85 days have passed since Jake Dennis and Envision Racing were victorious in the season nine finale in London, with the duo having won their respective championships.

The opening campaign of the Gen3 era is old news now though, with pre-season testing for Formula E’s centurion campaign getting officially underway on Tuesday in Valencia. All 11 teams have three days of running (Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday) to get everything ready for the season-opener in Mexico City in January.

As per usual, each day of testing will be split into a morning and afternoon session, ultimately equating to 18 hours’ worth of running for each car, that is if each car doesn’t endure any problems.

With a full season of Gen3 having now been completed, testing will allow the teams to put everything they learnt during season nine into action. There are a few things to watch out for, most notably the introduction of fast-charging pit-stops, which will be trialled in two mock races set to take place on Wednesday.

Fast-charging pit-stops are set to be introduced in season 10, something which will add a completely new dynamic to a traditional E-Prix.

Several new liveries will also be seen, with a handful of the outfits having unveiled a new design ahead of testing getting underway. Andretti’s new livery is particularly special, not only because Dennis is running the No.1 plate but because they’re rocking the team’s new colours since rebranding as Andretti Global.

Above: Andretti’s new livery for season 10 – Credit: FIA Formula E

It’s not just Andretti who’ll be looking drastically different, as NIO 333 Racing are now a team of the past, having successfully rebranded as the ERT Formula E Team. Chinese manufacturer NIO have left the all-electric series after seven seasons.

As well as new liveries, testing will offer a glimpse of all the driver transfers which unfolded after the season nine finale.

Driver transfers

Nine driver transfers took place in what was a chaotic silly season, with the full class of season 10 having only recently been confirmed. Robin Frijns has returned to Envision to replace new Jaguar TCS Racing driver Nick Cassidy, whilst Lucas di Grassi has taken Frijns’ spot at ABT CUPRA.

Frijns and Di Grassi aren’t the only drivers to have returned to a former side of theirs, as Oliver Rowland is back with Nissan, having replaced Norman Nato who now races for Andretti. Rowland and Di Grassi having moved left two seats at Mahindra Racing, which have been filled by Edoardo Mortara and Nyck de Vries, who has returned to the series after a year away.

André Lotterer wasn’t the only German driver to leave Formula E, as did René Rast. He’s been replaced by Sam Bird, whose seat Cassidy has taken. Mortara joining Mahindra left a spot for Maserati MSG Racing to fill, something they’ve done by signing the only rookie of the 2023/24 season.

Jehan Daruvala has successfully graduated from Formula 2 and will compete for Maserati. He also left his reserve role at Mahindra to switch to Monte-Carlo. Whilst Daruvala is the only rookie on the season 10 grid, he won’t be the only one driving in pre-season testing.

Above: Daruvala (L) will partner Günther (R) at Maserati – Credit: Maserati MSG Racing

Rookies in action

In Valencia this week, each team must use a rookie driver for at least three of the 18 allocated hours of testing. Maserati do still have to use another rookie driver despite season 10 being Daruvala’s first.

With the exception of Gabriela Jilkova – who’ll be completing three hours for the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team – and Taylor Barnard who NEOM McLaren are using, all the rookies being fielded appeared in last season’s Berlin rookie test.

Andretti have opted to use F2 driver Zane Maloney, Mahindra have chosen Jordan King, Envision will be fielding Jack Aitken, ABT CUPRA are using Adrien Tambay and Tim Tramnitz once again, Robert Shwartzman will be at DS Penske, Sheldon van der Linde at Jaguar, Mikel Azcona Troyas at ERT, Yann Ehrlacher at Maserati and Nissan are using both Victor Martins and Luca Ghiotto.

With the exception of Daruvala, no rookie driver can compete in either mock race.

The venue

As has been the case for years, Formula E’s official pre-season test will take place at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, which is most famously the season finale on the MotoGP calendar. The circuit has hosted an E-Prix once, back during the COVID-19 impacted season seven.

The 3.376km circuit consists of 15 corners and runs anti-clockwise, whilst it also features an artificial chicane down the start/finish straight to mimic the tight corners usually seen at a typical Formula E street venue.

Credit: Sam Bloxham courtesy of FIA Formula E

Some drivers have been critical of Valencia being used for testing, as the circuit isn’t very representative of a street track. However, testing on a street venue in a city for a week is clearly not practical nor logistically possible.

Last season’s test saw a variety of wet and dry weather. Thankfully, the current forecast is that the drivers will be met with sunny skies throughout the week.

What to expect

Given that it’s pre-season testing, that’s difficult to say! However, with the hardware still being under homologation until the end of the new season, the Jaguars and Porsches will likely look competitive.

A true picture of the pecking order may not be seen until the end of the week, when a surge for hot laps unfolds. Software can be played around with though, something Mortara admitted can make a huge difference.

As proven in testing ahead of season nine, not too much attention should be given to the timesheets, given that the leading places were dominated by Maserati and DS Penske almost 12 months ago. Come the season nine opener in Mexico City, both were nowhere to be seen.

Maximilian Günther was the outright pacesetter in testing last year. Can he repeat that this week?

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