This is probably the first time we go into a new Formula E season where there are some clear favourites for the title and we don’t think half of the grid can win the championship.
Jake Dennis‘ title defence begins on Saturday in Mexico City as he bids to become just the second back-to-back Formula E champion after Jean-Eric Vergne.
Dennis is clear that he needs a better campaign to win the 2024 title and faces a big challenge against the highly fancied duo of Mitch Evans and Nick Cassidy.
Friends become teammates at Jaguar
Evans and Cassidy pushed Dennis hard in the 2023 title fight but a collision in the third to last race of the season in Rome handed the championship to the Andretti driver.
Perhaps Dennis would have still won the title but we missed out on a big finale in London. Cassidy has joined Jaguar in the off-season and begins a new chapter in his friendship with Evans.
The pair grew up racing each other in New Zealand and are seen as two of the best Formula E drivers on the grid. It’s arguably the strongest driver pairing the series has seen.
“Nick has settled into the team very well, with both him and Mitch showing great pace in Valencia,” said Jaguar team principal James Barclay.
“We will be looking, as everyone is, to start the season off at the Mexico City E-Prix in the best possible way with a strong-points finish but we never underestimate the competition in Formula E.
“The team have been working tirelessly on and off the track to ensure we are prepared for lights out on Saturday.”
Cassidy was quickest on the last day of pre-season testing in Valencia in October and Evans was fast straight out of the blocks on the opening day, underlining the car’s strength.
Traditionally, Jaguar have started the season slowly and if they are fast immediately in Mexico City, it will certainly raise some eyebrows because the team often develop very well during the year.
Can Evans and Cassidy work together?
This is the big question. Sam Bird and Evans collided twice in 2023 which proved costly in the title race. While Evans and Cassidy are friends off the track, when the visor goes down, it will be so difficult to not go for the win.
Both drivers will know there is a championship on the line, so if they are running first and second, there’s a 14-point swing on the line with a change of position.
The early stages of the season will likely see the pair work together but there will naturally be a growing tension – look at Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in Formula 1 for example, where the childhood friends didn’t even speak to each other in the German’s 2016 title-winning season.
“Nick and I, from the driver side, we’ve got a lot of expectation on us as well,” said Evans. “But again, I think that’s a great feeling to have.
“I go into Mexico not really putting too much pressure on it. We started not great last year and we still managed to have a really strong year. So it’s not everything’s based off this one race.
“You kind of just want to start strongly, build some good foundations for the year ahead. But, not feeling too anxious or anything for the moment.”
Da Costa will be dangerous
Porsche are very confident going into Season 10 despite finishing behind Envision, Jaguar and Andretti in the teams’ championship. Antonio Felix da Costa struggled in his first races with Porsche but got better as the 2023 campaign went in.
Da Costa is the 2020 champion and, without doubt, one of the best drivers on the grid. The 32-year old feels he’s driving well and is full of confidence to challenge for the title again after a transitional season.
“I don’t want to throw fireworks in the air but at least to my own self and to my brain, I have to tell myself ‘yes’,” Da Costa told Total-Motorsport.com.
“I do really feel good to be honest. I feel like when I’m in the sim, the lap times are coming quicker. When I’m on the racetrack, the lap times are coming quicker.
“So essentially that’s what it’s all about, being quick on the lap times first. Then obviously there will be a lot of variables – operating well on race day, not making mistakes as a driver and team, that will all play a big part.
“But I think in terms of performance I can definitely see myself on a higher level than where I was 12 months ago.”
Maserati and DS to join the party?
The Jaguar and Porsche powered teams are favourites with DS Penske and Maserati the only other teams to get a win on the board in 2023.
Vergne maximised what he had under him at DS Penske but they lacked raw speed while his teammate Stoffel Vandoorne never got on top of the car.
Maximilian Guenther was fifth fastest overall in Valencia pre-season testing and won the 2023 Jakarta E-Prix. After a slow start to the season, Guenther found form and Maserati also improved.
“I’m very much looking forward to kicking off the season in Mexico City,” said Guenther. “We’ve had a great off-season, made some good steps forwards and the spirit within the team is strong.
“The track in Mexico City is a challenge that I enjoy a lot, the layout is fast, and we have this amazing section through the Foro Sol stadium where you really feel the passion and the energy of the fans.
“The difference in altitude plays a role as well. I’m looking forward to the fantastic welcome that we always receive from the Mexican fans, and we will try to begin our season with a good weekend.”
De Vries already on the backfoot on return
Nyck de Vries‘ return to Formula E has been a nightmare after a fire broke out on the first day of pre-season testing. De Vries was unable to compete in the rest of the test due to damage on his car, so his Mahindra team were given a compensation test.
But, the extra testing time was held in wet weather so De Vries has by far the least amount of mileage in a Gen3 car he didn’t drive last season.
“I did a couple of tests just before I left Formula E, but that was a while ago, and it was very early days for the Gen3 car, so a lot has moved on since then,” said De Vries.
“It’s a little bit different in terms of its characteristics, and there are a lot of new things that I’m getting up to speed with. I would say I’m still adapting to the Gen3 car, but the team is very supportive and we’re making steps all the time.
“I hope that I will be quickly up to speed with everything, but I would say it’s still a learning process, especially when we go racing because it has changed significantly and, of course, we do our homework, but I also need to go through it to learn and to experience it.”
Formula E 2024 driver line-up
|Antonio Felix da Costa
|Sergio Sette Camara
|Nyck de Vries
|Lucas di Grassi