São Paulo E-Prix preview: Samba time for Formula E


After an unplanned six-week break following the last-minute cancellation of the Hyderabad E-Prix, Formula E is finally back this weekend with the second ever São Paulo E-Prix.

With the last Formula E race having taken place at the end of January in Diriyah, the all-electric series has experienced somewhat of a second off-season, potentially damaging Nick Cassidy’s momentum.

The championship leader has finished on the podium in all three races this season and will be looking to continue his fine form in Brazil at the São Paulo Street Circuit.

The venue

The fourth round of Season 10 will take place at the same location in São Paulo as last season, at the Anhembi Sambadrome which is the home of the city’s world-famous carnival celebrations.

Formula E got a taste of the carnival last year, with floats and samba dancers having been present across the E-Prix. The same 2.96 km track as 2023 is also being used, consisting of three long straights and 11 corners.

The first corner caught several drivers out last season, resulting in them having to skip it and rejoin at Turn 3. However, the punishment for skipping the first corner was that they had to come to a complete halt in the run-off area, before rejoining the circuit.

			© Sam Bagnall / Formula E

© Sam Bagnall / Formula E

What happened in São Paulo last year?

The peloton-style of racing was on show in São Paulo 12 months ago; however, before the race, qualifying threw up a handful of surprises. Season 8 World Champion Stoffel Vandoorne secured pole position after defeating Antonio Felix da Costa in the final duel. Da Costa was the only Porsche-powered driver to qualify in the top 13.

Mitch Evans was victorious in the race and led a Jaguar powertrain 1-2-3, with Nick Cassidy having finished second for Envision with Sam Bird in third, in what was an epic fight for victory. The Jaguar powertrain was the strongest in Brazil last year, with the same being expected this weekend.

Vandoorne led the bulk of the race but dropped to sixth, as a result of those around him having more energy. Da Costa was the top Porsche-powered driver in fourth, whilst reigning World Champion Jake Dennis retired following a collision with Dan Ticktum.

The key feature of last season’s event, was that it was the first that nobody wanted to lead and was in many ways the first of the Gen3 peloton-style races.

			© Simon Galloway / Formula E

© Simon Galloway / Formula E

Who are the favourites for victory?

For victory this Saturday, the favourite has to be Cassidy. The Kiwi has made a dream start to life with the factory Jaguar outfit and finished second in São Paulo last season. He is the only driver with any real momentum also, and has past experience of being one of the best when it comes to energy management.

His teammate Evans is another big favourite for victory, given that he won the inaugural E-Prix in Brazil. Evans was fast in São Paulo in 2023 and has demonstrated excellent pace so far in 2024, with things outside of his control having gone against him. The 29-year-old will be confident ahead of the race, which he will know is an excellent place to truly kickstart his title pursuit.

Despite enduring a disastrous race in Brazil last season, Dennis is a driver who always performs well in the peloton-style races. The Andretti driver has made a mediocre start to his title defence, having finished ninth in Mexico City, first in the opening race in Diriyah and 12th in the second. Nevertheless, Porsche’s efficiency is very good and Dennis will be in contention if he qualifies well.

Who else to watch out for?

The big talking point coming out of Diriyah at the end of January was the incredible efficiency of the Nissan powertrain. Nissan’s efficiency was one of the worst in 2023, yet they have dramatically turned it around.

Nissan’s customer team McLaren actually had the strongest efficiency in the Middle East. Because of this, Oliver Rowland, Sacha Fenestraz, Hughes and last season’s third place finisher Bird are all genuine outsiders for victory. Porsche’s Pascal Wehrlein also cannot be ruled out.

His teammate da Costa is another potential outsider, not only because he has been working hard since Diriyah to understand why he is yet to score a point, but also because he was excellent in São Paulo last season.

Given the strength of the Jaguar powertrain in South America last year, Envision’s Robin Frijns and Sebastian Buemi also cannot be forgotten.

			© Sam Bagnall / Formula E

© Sam Bagnall / Formula E

How does the championship look?

Ahead of Formula E’s trip to São Paulo it is Cassidy who sits comfortably at the top of the Drivers’ Championship, with a healthy 19-point advantage over Wehrlein. A further five points behind is Jean-Eric Vergne in third, with Dennis and Evans occupying fourth and fifth in the standings.

Following Cassidy’s supreme start to the campaign, it should come as no shock that Jaguar are leading the Teams’ Championship by a healthy 31 points ahead of DS Penske. Porsche are nine points behind DS Penske in third, whilst Envision and Andretti are both a further point behind in joint-fourth.

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