Shanghai E-Prix Preview: Formula E’s return to where it all started

The Formula E Championship returns to the country where history was made 10 years ago, with the inaugural race being held in the Chinese capital, Beijing, in 2014.

While the all-electric series will not be heading to Beijing this weekend, the sport is returning to China after a five-year break due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead of Beijing, Hong Kong or Sanya, Formula E heads to Shanghai for a double round at the famous Shanghai International Circuit, which Formula 1 has recently used.

Two extreme races are expected but with 58 points on offer, Nick Cassidy has a chance to extend his championship lead. After missing three races due to injury, Sam Bird will return this weekend.

A trip down memory lane

With China being the world's largest consumer of electric vehicle technology, the country is of great importance to Formula E.

Not only does the sport have a Chinese team in ERT, it also represents one of Porsche's biggest markets. China occupies an important place at the heart of Formula E, as the Asian country hosted the first-ever championship race in 2014.

Lucas di Grassi was the victor on the day, after Nick Heidfeld was involved in a horrific airborne crash at the final corner, due to a collision with Nico Prost – the son of Alain Prost.

Seven Formula E races have been held in China, the last of which was in Sanya in 2019. Covid-19 has halted China's ability to host the championship, although Formula E is keen to return as soon as possible.

A lot has changed since the first race in Beijing, but even for reasons away from the track, a race in China is essential to the series. Return is an important tick in the box.

© Sam Bloxham / Formula E

Route planning

As mentioned earlier, the doubleheader takes place at the Shanghai International Circuit, which is the traditional home of the Chinese Grand Prix.

It is, of course, a permanent circuit that is expected to host two of the most energy-efficient races the sport has ever seen, meaning the peloton will be even more chaotic. Most drivers do not support this.

Not all path is used. Formula E will use the first eight corners of the normal layout, before moving to the infield section for the final four corners.

The full circuit consists of 14 turns and is 4.603 km long, while the shortened version used by Formula E consists of 12 turns and is 3.051 km long.

The attack position will be placed on the outside of the famous second corner, which is expected to result in minimal downtime.

© Formula E

© Formula E

Favorites for victory

With two extreme races expected, predicting a winner is very difficult. However, some drivers stand out.

First up is championship leader, Cassidy, who has mastered the peloton more than any other driver since the start of the Gen3 era. A win in either race would be a huge boost to his title hopes.

His closest rival, Pascal Wehrlein, is another driver who could do very well in Shanghai, having won the Peloton at Misano earlier in the season. Porsche is expected to perform well this weekend.

In his current form, Antonio Felix da Costa is considered a favorite to win, after he drove excellently on his way to victory in the second race in Berlin two weeks ago.

© Simon Galloway / Formula E

© Simon Galloway / Formula E

Black horses

The dark horse for victory is undoubtedly World Champion Jake Dennis. Andretti appeared to have sorted out his qualifying woes ahead of the second race in Berlin, with Shanghai set to prove whether that performance was just a fluke.

Qualifying won't matter in Shanghai, but the three points awarded to the pole-sitter could be crucial when the London championship gets underway at the end of July.

Mitch Evans is another driver to take into consideration, having finished second in the opening race in Berlin. Evans is in good form and will likely be up front.

Oliver Rowland is another driver who could win this weekend, with the Briton showing excellent aggression in the peloton's recent races. Its energy management is also exceptional, which may be a deciding factor.

What do tournaments look like?

As previously reported, Cassidy heads to Shanghai as the championship leader, with Weherlein 14 points behind the Jaguar driver. Rowland is a further six points behind in third, while Dennis is fourth but 38 points behind Cassidy. Evans is in fifth place.

In the teams' championship, Jaguar boasts a huge lead of 54 points over Porsche. Nissan is far behind in third place, 93 points behind the championship leader. One point separates DS Penske and Andretti in fourth and fifth places.

Check out the full tournament standings here!


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