Formula E 'testing' with added action, champion Tanak's shock rumours and Chadwick returns
Testing commences ahead of Formula E return
With less than a month to go until lights out at the Ad Diriyah ePrix, it's shaping up to be the most exciting Formula E season yet. Jean-Eric Vergne, reigning champion and driver of the DS Techeetah, finds himself on the eve of his sixth campaign in the Formula-E Championship, still with DS Techeetah but alongside new teammate Antonio Felix da Costa.
Porsche and Mercedes are joining the 2019/2020 Formula-E Championship grid, there’s been a big driver shuffle across the constructors, new venues in South Korea and Jakarta are supplementing the calendar and London will host the finale in an epic double header in July. That's just for starters.
There can be no mistaking the competitive nature of the series on the eve of the new campaign. In fact, it has already begun!
Following on from a year that had eight different winners in the first eight races, it’s fair to say Formula-E prides itself on being the most unpredictable four-wheel racing category on the planet. That went to a whole new level last week, too, with drivers clashing and cars sustaining significant damage during pre-season testing in Valencia.
There was certainly no love lost out on track in what is supposed to be a warm-up for the teams and stars.
Trialling new changes for 2020, the Formula-E governing body introduced two ‘race-like’ exercises at Circuit Ricardo Tormo, which inevitably led to multiple incidents of contact, a rogue wheel cover and even Felipe Massa shunting his front wing into the wall while battling for the so-called ‘lead’ of the session. Let racing drivers loose, and they'll find any excuse for a scrap.
In the aftermath, the drivers admitted to their racing hearts ruling their head in what was supposed to be a straightforward few days of gathering data.
But if nothing else, this sets the tone for a thrilling season ahead. Roll on Saudi Arabia in less than a months' time!
What a journey it has been.. BUT WE DIT IT!— Ott Tänak (@OttTanak) October 27, 2019
WE ARE THE WORLD CHAMPIONS! 🏆🎉🥇☝️
⁰#WRC #Champions #OttTänak #MartinJärveoja #GoOtt #TanakFanArmy⁰
*Subject to the official publication of the results by the FIA. pic.twitter.com/5NmdfdHGWD
Tanak takes title, but Toyota left feeling bittersweet
Ott Tanak has secured his maiden WRC drivers' title after coming home in second place at Rally Spain last weekend.
The Estonian was beaten by closest championship rival Thierry Neuville on the day in Catalonia but did enough to bring it home and seal his first crown – with his rival a fourth consecutive year as runner-up.
Tanak's triumph also means Sébastien Ogier is dethroned for the first time since 2013, and that the ultimate prize lies in the hands of a non-Frenchman for the first time since 2004. It really is the end of an era.
With the drivers' battle won for another year, the final chapter, Rally Australia in mid-November, will now decide the outcome of the manufacturers' standings. And an unexpected twist has stoked that particular fire over the last week or so.
Hyundai remain in pole position to claim it for the first time – sitting 18 points clear of Toyota. But it's set to be a double whammy for the leaders to finish 2019 if they can hold on, following the sensational murmurings over the weekend that Tanak is to join them from Toyota and partner Neuville next season.
If those very strong rumours come to fruition, it's a bittersweet end to the campaign for Toyota, who could well miss out on silverware AND lose their star man, just after they helped him achieve his lifelong ambition.
***UPDATE Those rumours did come to fruition! Tanak joins Hyundai Motorsport on a 2 year contract.
Chadwick to return for 2020
Maiden W Series champion Jamie Chadwick will attempt to defend her title next season after confirming she’ll retake her place on the grid for 2020.
The 21-year-old Briton was the standout performer in the series’ inaugural year – winning the championship to add another accolade to an impressive racing CV.
Alongside her British GT championship, MRF Winter Series title and Williams F1 development drive, the leading light in female motor racing has also signed up for the Extreme E series set to begin in 2021 – further highlighting her big presence across motorsport.
Before embarking on that innovative electric journey, though, she'll look to continue her dominance in the W Series and earn more crucial points towards gaining that coveted super license, that could one day see her in Formula 1.
At such a young age, with an impressive resume and big future projects already in the making, she has a great chance to become an ultimate sporting icon.