until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula E

Winners and losers from Formula E’s frenzied 2023 finale

by Sam Smith
12 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

The 2023 Formula E season signed off in a fitting fashion in London, in a haze of on-track excitement, controversy and hurt feelings – even if the actual final race proved shockingly reserved given the remarkable conditions.

In many ways, those who’d had good seasons were good again here, and those who’d disappointed continued that trend as well – but there were exceptions, notably a stellar last hurrah from a driver aware he was set for his marching orders regardless.


The three standouts of 2023

Nick Cassidy Jake Dennis Mitch Evans Formula E

It was no coincidence that Jake Dennis, Nick Cassidy and Mitch Evans were the only drivers in town performance-wise at the London ExCeL Arena last weekend.

The trio dwarfed all around them like the nearby peaks of Canary Wharf. The cream of 2023 rose again when they needed to.

Dennis took the title as expected, albeit in intricately-achieved fashion, while New Zealand’s future Jaguar team-mates took wins apiece to end the season as the most successful drivers on victories alone with four each in 2023.

Over the season the trio broke away from Pascal Wehrlein – who’d made it a quartet until the penultimate events in Rome – to establish a mini-league of excellence all of their own.

This was born out in the final race where they never looked like letting anyone else in, despite hostile conditions throughout.

Evans and Cassidy will have subtler shades of colour to indicate success this season. Dennis has a bolder red-letter day to unpack. The reality is though that all three deserve the plaudits, although Dennis is just the standout on account of making fewer misjudgements over the course of the season.

Envision Racing

Nick Cassidy Envision Jaguar Formula E

Envision Racing took its first-ever Formula E title at the fifth time of the trying (nine if you also factor in the team’s old life as DS Virgin until the 2017/18 season).

The accomplishment will be analysed in days to come but right now some heady plaudits must go to the green corner of the paddock because what has been achieved this season was nothing short of sensational for a team that is dwarfed in terms of personnel and resource by many others it beat to the silverware.

Its accomplishments are plain to behold – four wins, four poles and a massive haul of 304 points, 12 more than manufacturer partner Jaguar.

It was far from perfect in London. A confused and disjointed race strategy between Sebastien Buemi and Cassidy cost the latter a crack at Dennis for the drivers’ crown, and while all that will be forgotten now, it left a fair amount of discord hanging in the air on Saturday evening.

Ultimately though the Cassidy, Buemi and Envision thread is the truest feel-good story of 2023 along with Dennis’s rise to becoming top dog.

“We got close a few times but I’m very acutely aware that it takes a lot of special ingredients to get there,” said Envision managing director Sylvain Filippi, who has been at the team from day one.

Sylvain Filippi Envision Jaguar Formula E

“It’s the first time in Formula E that we have a car that is pretty much quick everywhere. Without that we can’t really do it.

“It’s the team, it’s the drivers, the car and when it’s all put together, works, but as you saw it’s very close.

“I have every faith in my team, and after nine years of doing this, it took a while but we got it.”

Cassidy was magnificent on Sunday, and while it didn’t banish the nightmares of the second Rome and first London race, it did at least show the world that he is a champion in waiting.

Mitch Evans

Mitch Evans Jaguar Formula E London

Evans did pretty much everything to give himself a chance in his faintest of championship hopes in London.

Amid a still-persistent fog of dejection after his Rome error in taking out Cassidy, Evans showed arrow-like professional precision in taking pole and the win on Saturday. While that wasn’t enough to deny Dennis the title, it showed that he more than deserves his position at the top table when it comes to the triumvirate of the best 2023 performers.

Even when faced with the almost-impossible job of attempting to track Cassidy amid plumes of murky Dockland spray on Sunday he never gave up, chipping away at the Envision Jaguar as best he could with a car that was often right on the edge of pitching him into the barriers.

The 2023 season in many ways was a familiar story for Evans; massive highs, mostly unlucky and non-self-inflicted lows, a sniff of the title but as the credits rolled he was still not at the top of the screen.

It’s already feeling as if 2024 has his name on it. Consistency of an ultra-strong technical package will be the biggest of weapons for Evans. The only unknown is the arrival of Cassidy, who on the evidence of 2023 will become Evans’ biggest team-mate test ever.

Nico Mueller

Nico Mueller Abt Mahindra Formula E

It would be far too easy to underestimate just what an exceptional job Nico Mueller did last weekend in London.

Making it through to the duels in a Mahindra M9Electro is an impressive feat, and then following that up with a fighting eighth place to ensure a third points-scoring position from the last four races was outstanding from the Swiss.

“Normally, so far this season in double-headers, we struggle a lot on Sundays when there was more grip, the track was rubbered in – and today we really maximised our potential in qualifying, so that was really good,” Mueller told The Race on Sunday.

“The race was, obviously, in completely different conditions and I managed to keep it clean. I had decent pace as well, especially in the beginning, then I struggled a bit more when there was less water on the track, and had to kind of try and bring it home, which turned out alright.

“It’s a good way to end what’s been a tough season, that’s no secret, but the trend has been going into the right direction until the very end so that’s making me pretty happy.”

Norman Nato

Norman Nato Nissan Formula E London

Typical Norman Nato. A quietly skilful and proficient performance on Sunday brought more big points and consolidated his points advantage over team-mate Sacha Fenestraz in the final standings and meant Nato was comfortably Nissan’s top scorer by 63 points to 32.

If simple facts like that were sacrosanct, then Nato would be looking forward to a deserved second season. But he’s not.

While there is apparently little he can do to change Nissan’s mind about him being replaced for 2024, he has kept his side of the bargain with the marque’s strongest result of the season (second in Rome race two) and helped ensure that it was not embarrassed by customer team NEOM McLaren – though that was also down to a papaya-tinted points vacuum in the second half of the season.

In London, Saturday’s race produced a genuine injustice in Nato’s questionable penalty for his part in the red flag-inducing clash with Buemi, but on Sunday he took a solidly polished fourth.

“I was thinking maybe for a podium, starting from P3 and in these kind of conditions anything can happen,” Nato told The Race.

“But by lap one already when I saw the two in front were so much faster than anyone else, I didn’t even try to follow them. I was just focusing on my own race.

“Jake [Dennis] as well had more pace than me so he overtook me. From there, I was trying to check [pace] compared to Stoffel [Vandoorne], who was behind me.

“I had to manage, but basically we had the same pace. I just tried to really focus on making no mistakes because I knew if I was not doing any he wouldn’t pass me.”

NIO 333

Dan Ticktum NIO 333 Formula E London

NIO 333 looked as if it would be denied a chance to finish ahead of Mahindra in the teams’ standings after Sergio Sette Camara’s contentious disqualification from Saturday’s race.

This came just minutes before the free practice session before the next round on Sunday and perhaps it gave the team an extra cut in its jib to get the two points necessary to finish ninth in the standings ahead of the much more resourced Mahindra.

It was a much improved season for NIO 333 in 2023 with some occasionally scintillating one-lap pace.

Sette Camara was as tenacious as ever on Saturday and should have been rewarded for it but the messy ramifications on whether his car was fit for purpose or not on the restart will have to be looked at for future clarities on such scenarios. The team felt slighted by the outcome and it energised it.

Dan Ticktum again had a strong weekend, bringing home eight valuable points, with a brace of gutsy runs that also included getting through to the duels on both occasions.

NIO 333’s actual target this season was eighth, and while that was always going to be ambitious, failing to achieve it shouldn’t detract from a generally positive season. It plainly needs much more in terms of outright consistent race pace but in light of its previous fallow seasons 2023 should be viewed as a job well done.



Pascal Wehrlein Porsche Formula E London


Porsche had a similar wishy-washy end to the season as it had in 2022, but this time around there was a lot more to lose in terms of championship position and bragging rights.

But taking 11 points from the last four races while your rivals gather in 90-100 stands out.

The capitulation pinballed Porsche down from leader after Portland just a month ago to a distant fourth, even falling behind its customer team Avalanche Andretti – which was essentially fighting with one driver given Andre Lotterer’s limited contribution.

There will be a full range of furrowed brows in Stuttgart and Weissach in the coming days and weeks as they try to understand quite how they let their title-winning promise for three-quarters of the season erode so spectacularly.

Wehrlein perhaps said it best when he told The Race that he had “mixed emotions” over the season.

“Some really good highs. It was our best season so far in Formula E, therefore I think we can be happy, but also on the other side, I think we lost a lot of ground in the last couple of races

“I’d say the disappointing part is finishing the season in fourth place. Was definitely looking much stronger in the beginning and mid-season.”

In London it was again a mix of poor qualifying pace and misfortune in the races. The hard-luck story was sizeable this time in Antonio Felix da Costa’s controversial penalty on Saturday evening.

Antonio Felix da Costa Porsche Formula E London

This came when he ran over debris and damaged his right front Hankook. The team believed that it was told it did not have to change it, but the FIA thought otherwise. Da Costa’s heroic run from 17th to second was all for nothing.

In a way it fitted with Porsche’s season as a whole somehow – massive potential ultimately unrewarded.

“Due to that penalty, the 18 points, you would calculate the standings, with the top three within eight points and we would have a fight on for the team title within eight points, three teams, which would be amazing,” Porsche chief Florian Modlinger told The Race on Saturday night.

In the end it didn’t matter and in all likelihood Porsche’s intended appeal will now not happen. What will happen is a forensic debrief into how Porsche tailed off so badly in 2023 after initially improving and evidencing that it can scale the peaks.

For getting a true foothold in a craggy and hostile title battle, it was clearly a season too early.

DS Penske

Jean-Eric Vergne DS Penske Formula E London

A midfield position in the final standings and 141 points adrift of Envision Racing would have been an unfathomable nightmare of a prediction for DS Penske after it came away from a mostly positive pre-season test at Valencia last December.

Yet the reality is that more or often than not it was fighting for the smaller points in 2023.

That was a major surprise because although it was a new alliance between DS and the former Dragon Penske organisation, much of it was as it was with the multi-title winning DS Techeetah squad.

It simply didn’t have a good enough package in 2023 and again in London it showed. There were flashes of positivity, especially from Vandoorne this time, who for perhaps only the third time this season truly had the measure of team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne.

Vandoorne made both duel sessions over the weekend but had a messy incident with Edoardo Mortara on Saturday, which went astonishingly unpunished. In a solid race on Sunday he held his hard-earned fifth to the chequered flag.

While that will at least give the strangely quiet 2023-spec Vandoorne something positive for the off-season, DS Penske, like Porsche in a way, will go away and attempt to see how it can try to at least close the gap to the eight Porsche- and Jaguar-powered cars for 2024, so that its champion pair of drivers can be much more than just bit-part players.

Sacha Fenestraz

Sacha Fenestraz Nissan Formula E London

Fenestraz celebrated his 24th birthday on Friday but what has largely been a bright flame on his 2023 Formula E candles barely flickered into life at all last weekend.

It was his most disappointing weekend of the season with a poor qualifying on Saturday followed by a high-speed crash while battling with Sette Camara on Saturday.

That created work for his team in changing the tub for Sunday, but it didn’t change his pace – which was again alarmingly off team-mate Nato.

London was one to forget for Fenestraz, and one that gave his team-mate an extended points advantage in the final standings. Is that reflective of the whole season? Absolutely not, but at the same time Nissan and Fenestraz didn’t maximise all of the points opportunities available.

He was, though, probably the stand-out full-season rookie driver and, London apart, looks to be one of the key stars of Formula E’s future.

Unfathomable stewarding decisions

Formula E red flag London

A typically fraught and rambunctious Formula E race again had multiple talking points on Saturday.

The stewards were obviously busy with several investigations and incidents to mull over and analyse.

The aforementioned Vandoorne-and-Mortara clash yielding a ‘no further action’ decision was genuinely jaw-dropping. When a GIF of the incident circulates the paddock and is met with a mixture of resigned laughter and visible head-shaking, you know something isn’t right.

The rationalisation of the incident, which was clearly a slam-dunk penalty, by driver steward Paul Belmondo and others had Maserati MSG boss James Rossiter almost speechless with a mix of shock and anger.

The Da Costa penalty for not changing a damaged tyre was much more complex and seemed to hinge on precisely how it was communicated by the FIA technical team to Porsche. This rumbled on for hours after the race and would have done so for weeks had it not been for Porsche annulling itself from the teams’ title race on Sunday.

Other penalties also brought into question the application and consistency.

The Abt Cupra team was left furious after Robin Frijns was adjudged to have taken out Lucas di Grassi, and then there was Nato getting pinged for triggering an accident with Buemi – which was in fact rooted in Buemi lapping nine seconds off the pace while trying to complete his final attack mode.

The issues that teams have with the stewards were a mix of the actual decisions and a perceived lack of consistency.

But perhaps the bigger picture is one of resources. We don’t know what goes on in the stewards’ room because we never see it. But the suspicion is that with so much happening in a 40-minute time period that there is either a lack of resources or understanding in the intricacies of how drivers race in Formula E.

Frankly, also having driver steward advisors that have not raced for over a decade and have never driven in Formula E simply doesn’t make sense and now surely has to be changed for 2024.

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