The sixth Formula E season kicked off early this morning with the Diriyah ePrix, and one of the biggest talking points was, how are newcomers Mercedes and Porsche going to fare when competing against some of the series’ more experienced teams? The answer, it turns out, is really fucking well.
You can tell just by looking at the podium. While Envision Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird—a team and driver combo who have been together since season one—secured first place, Andre Lotterer from Porsche and Stoffel Vandoorne from Mercedes rounded out the top three.
While both Lotterer and Vandoorne have experience in FE, having raced in previous seasons, their teammates are relatively new. Neel Jani at Porsche contested a single race weekend two seasons ago for Dragon Racing. Mercedes’ second driver, Nyck de Vries, is totally new to FE. They scored 17th and 6th, respectively.
It’s obvious that driver experience also played a role in the teams’ high finishing positions, but it’s important to note that neither Porsche nor Mercedes struggled with the reliability issues that inflicted some of the other teams. Both Techeetah and Nissan had a car retire with technical problems. GEOX Dragon didn’t even get one car to the starting grid.
It’s tough to predict the future, but the fact that both new teams have proved strong right out of the gate bodes well for the rest of the season.
The second round of the season takes place tomorrow as part of the Diriyah double-header event. If Porsche and Mercedes can make it through yet another race both dominant and unscathed, we might just have two new championship contenders to pay attention to.