The 2022 Formula E season ended in mid-August – so long ago that pre-season testing for next year’s championship is now just days away. But despite the unusual calendar, it is a fitting time to look back at a season which saw some standout performances as drivers grappled with the end of the Gen2 era.
A renewed qualifying format did its intended job of generating a more representative championship battle at the front, rather than leaving more than ten drivers vying for the crown at the last round. In the second year of a double homologation for powertrains, it was still Jaguar and Mercedes-powered cars at the front of the field.
Stoffel Vandoorne and Mitch Evans’ title rivalry was refreshingly respectful – unsurprisingly give the friendship between the two – and ran until the end of the final race, the two pushing each other to the chequered flag. The teams’ championship was equally fierce, with Venturi not letting their powertrain supplier Mercedes run away with the title. What might look like straightforward dominance from Mercedes, taking both championships for the past two years, was anything but.
10 – Antonio Felix da Costa – Techeetah
A final season at DS Techeetah was a little anonymous for Antonio Felix da Costa. The car, homologated for the past two seasons, was never as dominant as its two predecessors – a mid-season powertrain swap last year leaving the team scrabbling for answers. But Da Costa still took a win in the second New York round and poles in Marrakech and the final Seoul race.
Quick though he obviously was over a single lap, the Seoul round summarised what Da Costa was up against, as the Mercedes-powered Venturi of Edoardo Mortara passed him easily, early in the race. Da Costa also didn’t quite seem to be able to find the performance team mate Jean-Eric Vergne could, this season, often finding himself bogged into the volatile midfield.
9 – Lucas di Grassi – Venturi
Lucas di Grassi has held a lot of records over the course of his Formula E career. This year, the one he comes away with is being the last remaining driver to have competed in every single round of Formula E – quite literally a participation trophy. However, impressive as it is, it’s a record he’s unlikely to particularly treasure.
Di Grassi was forced to switch teams for the 2022 season, the first time he had ever driven in Formula E outside of the ABT-Audi squad. Whether it was the trickiness of transferring to a new team’s setup (although very limited in terms of trackside personnel, every FE team is dramatically different operationally) it was a relatively slow start to the year for Di Grassi, with team mate Edoardo Mortara scoring three wins before Di Grassi had managed a second podium. However, he did make good on last year’s lost London win by taking the top step in the second race there this year.
Di Grassi has said he’ll stop racing when he thinks he’s no longer competitive, rather than carrying on for the sake of having a seat – but with his move to Mahindra for the coming season, there doesn’t seem to be any risk of that happening any time soon.
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8 – Nick Cassidy – Envision
Nick Cassidy stayed with the Envision team for his second season in Formula E, after a relatively quiet rookie season. He took his first win in New York, the only time the team took the top step this year. Cassidy’s increasing confidence with the format and series, as well as the team, seemed to iron out some early-season problems with race management, seeing a big uptick in his points haul towards the end of the year and some clever driving that saw him get to grips with the heart of the series.
Cassidy’s win had come under a red flag, after drivers left on what were essentially slicks by the final stages of a race helplessly aquaplaned off-track following a New York downpour. Before that, however, he’d had to bide his time and regain the lead from Di Grassi, managing Attack Mode with the patience to accept losing places.
7 – Robin Frijns – Envision
Never the driver to feature most in the limelight, it was as if Robin Frijns had donned camouflage for a lot of this season. Winless for the second year running, he nonetheless remained in title contention for the majority of the season and frequently at the sharp end of things.
Nonetheless, he finished with nearly double Cassidy’s points haul and was four places higher in the championship. Of the teams who’d found themselves abandoned by their powertrain manufacturer, Envision had a lot of the same struggles as Andretti in dealing with the loss of the Audi factory team.
Frijns’ laid-back approach to almost everything belies quite how formidable he is on track, even in machinery likely worse than the cars around him. He was one of the drivers most regularly in the qualifying duels and although he didn’t manage to lodge as many points as Stoffel Vandoorne, he was one of a very small number of drivers with no retirements. His four podiums (two second, two third) came from being able to take advantage of situations around him. Frijns’ skill, particularly in any kind of mixed-up weather conditions, was in keeping it on track and in the points, regardless.
6 – Pascal Wehrlein – Porsche
Porsche’s struggles in Formula E have hidden Wehrlein’s talents somewhat. A particularly clumsy operational error when the team failed to declare its tyre set correctly robbed him of the marque’s first win in 2021 but didn’t seem to dim his keenness to finally get there. A switchover in the team’s management following the opening Diriyah rounds this season seemed to prompt a change, with Porsche taking its first single seater win with Wehrlein this season at the third round in Mexico
Aside from a second consecutive season of making experienced team mate Andre Lotterer look relatively ordinary, Wehrlein seems to have found his feet and a renewed energy for development with Porsche. One of the many drivers who came to Formula E somewhat crushed – and in a trying contractual situation – from Formula 1, he still brought a ruthless competitiveness that both suits Porsche’s motorsport ambitions and heritage and has served him well on track.
The single win in Mexico was historic, for him and Porsche but his overall performance in the team, including and beyond that point, was more impressive.
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5 – Jake Dennis – Andretti
Jake Dennis technically didn’t move teams between the 2020 and 2021 seasons, remaining with the Andretti squad who he’d very nearly won the title with in his rookie year. The car, also, physically didn’t change, with the double-homologated powertrain.
It’s worth remembering where Andretti were before BMW joined up with them, however – scrapping not to come last. With the marque formally leaving FE, it left Andretti with a substantial technical gap to try and make up, which immediately impacted performance, despite a podium for Dennis in the opening round in Diriyah.
From what the team disclosed during the season, it seems they started with a car that was quick in qualifying but slid helplessly backwards in the race due to their energy management being a disaster. Mid-season that switched to being a car that was slightly better in racing, with Dennis putting in an impressive overtaking performance in Rome after a poor qualifying. That finally seemed to balance out to something much more predictable by the time the final London and Seoul rounds came about.
Still one of the less experienced drivers in Formula E, Dennis placing sixth in the championship is a genuine achievement. His double pole position at home in London, taking one win and another podium, as well as a final third-place finish in Seoul, were crucial to him beating Frijns on countback, the two drawing on points. Dennis’ ability to recover from setbacks and carve through the field when he needed to was an additional credit to his season.
4 – Jean-Eric Vergne – Techeetah
Vergne would no doubt be as annoyed with his position on this countdown as his results in general this year – but that’s because Formula E’s only two-time champion is frustrated by anything but winning. For his last year at the Techeetah team he helped found, Vergne was on the back foot in terms of pace compared to the Jaguar or Mercedes-powered teams – but able to post much, much better results than the previous seasons.
Using the same powertrain last year, Vergne posted his worst ever Formula E championship finish of tenth. This year might not have yielded a win for him but it did reverse those fortunes and see him claim both consistent podium finishes and fourth place at the end of the season. Especially given Da Costa’s struggle to haul results out of the Techeetah, JEV’s final score is impressive, beating his team mate by 47 points.
An end-of-season slump in results took him out of Evans and Vandoorne’s title fight but until the New York and London rounds he had remained one of the contenders, leading the points in the mid-stages. For someone driving a solidly midfield car, at best, it was a clear demonstration of the resilience Vergne has found in Formula E, to be able to come back after struggling. His stand-out performances include a second place in Berlin that saw him genuinely challenge Mortara, in a much faster car, for the win. Pole positions in Rome and Jakarta show that he’s also not lost the single-lap pace he’d always been able to find in the series, from taking pole on his debut eight years ago.
3 – Edoardo Mortara – Venturi
For all that Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries were the ones to claim the titles for Mercedes in the past two years, it’s Edoardo Mortara who has been arguably the strongest driver using the Mercedes powertrain in that time. Driving for Venturi, rather than the factory team, Mortara might have not felt like as much of a title contender as Vandoorne or De Vries but realistically, he could have taken either and probably should have been champion last year, bar Mitch Evans’ disastrous failure to start the final race that saw both of them wiped out of contention on the grid.
Mortara equalled Evans for wins this year, taking four and emerging strongly as Venturi’s lead driver, despite the intimidating opposition of Lucas di Grassi joining the other side of the garage.
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2 – Stoffel Vandoorne – Mercedes
Formula E’s second official world champion is probably its less controversial one. Although De Vries was one of many drivers who could have deserved to win the previous year’s title, Vandoorne’s campaign for Mercedes was more solid, thanks to the new qualifying format almost ending FE’s tendency to swing large points balances between teams.
Vandoorne wasn’t really deserving of any more humbling by the time he arrived in FE but still had to do a year in a largely uncompetitive HWA-branded car before he was allowed to put the three-pointed star on and really get going. Mercedes’ first race winner, he got foxed out of the 2021 title by reliability or more specifically, collision damage that was rarely anything to do with his driving.
So getting a year with a relatively clean run (Vandoorne is the only driver in the top six of the standings with no retirement) let him take the fight to an otherwise nearly-untouchable Mitch Evans. Mercedes probably had the slightly better car than Jaguar on a lot of weekends, but that shouldn’t take away from Vandoorne’s competitiveness. He only took one win, in Monaco, where Evans pushed him to defend to the finish line but consistency remains how to take a Formula E title and four second places and two thirds saw Vandoorne top the points.
1 – Mitch Evans – Jaguar
It was very difficult to separate the first and second positions for this list, as it was on track. In the end, bad luck probably decided it between Mitch Evans and Stoffel Vandoorne and the timing of Evans’ disastrous, final lap retirement in London in particular. Which isn’t to say Vandoorne isn’t a worthy winner, he clearly is – just that it could extremely fairly have gone to either of them, as the top spot in this list.
Evans’ title frustrations, although not as slow-burn as team mate Sam Bird’s, are obvious. Every year the Jaguar gets a little more competitive. Every year the team seems more nailed-on for success and then, as is the way in Formula E, small things unravel that see it slide through their fingers yet again. It seems unlikely (and unfair) that anyone not watching Formula E regularly would think Jaguar was one of the most successful and competitive teams, battering the VW marques that have come and gone and only really finding a fight with Mercedes.
But that’s how it is. And Evans drove a title-worthy season. Particularly stand-out moments are winning both races in Rome and a furious effort to win the first Seoul race and keep the title fight with Vandoorne alive to the end. The two are peers, in age terms, and seeing them get the chance to directly compete is one of the great things about Formula E, the sharp-end battle one of the most satisfying things about this year. Evans’ performances alone were excellent; in compliment to the competitiveness of Vandoorne, they’re a sublime – and unusually friendly – rivalry.
And the rest
Lewis Hamilton losing his record of winning at least one race per season of F1 he’s competed in was a bigger story but former Mercedes sim driver Sam Bird also lost his perfect record in Formula E. Bird didn’t lack competitive pace particularly this season but ghastly luck saw him finish the lowest he ever has in a Formula E championship and his season ended on the bench, after breaking his hand during the second London race. However, managing to drive an exhausting, 22-turn track that saw drivers relentlessly wrestle the wheel, with the break sustained in a first-lap collision to take home a final points finish, rather than accept a retirement, proves Bird’s continuing mettle.
Alexander Sims decided partway through the season was his final year in Formula E, still dedicated to the cause of electric vehicles but struggling to comprehend the ups-and-downs of the series. A largely uncompetitive Mahindra left him without much of a chance to go out on a high. However, a stint at the front in the second New York round, following a very strong qualifying there, showed how fast Sims is, given a chance.
IndyCar transfer Oliver Askew had a promising start, the only rookie to finish in the points in Diriyah, followed by an incredibly frustrating mid-season. He returned to form at the London Eprix, taking a fourth place finish, just moments too late to have any hope of saving his seat. The Andretti car, struggling without BMW’s trackside support, was difficult for even Dennis to get to grips with and Askew’s promise in FE was sadly disguised too long.
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- De Vries returns to Formula E with Mahindra after losing AlphaTauri F1 drive
- Bird joins McLaren’s Formula E team after losing Jaguar seat
- Cassidy wins delayed London finale from pole to seal teams’ title for Envision
- Formula E world champion Dennis “lost for words” after “mind-blowing” season
- Dennis crowned champion as title rival Cassidy collides with team mate
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