From the deserts of Saudi Arabia to an exhibition hall in East London, the Formula E calendar is one of the most diverse in motorsport. Allow electrifying.com to explain more…
The current Formula E season started last December in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia and ends in London, UK in late July. If you’re wondering why the season runs over two years, it’s to avoid clashes with the Formula One calendar and provide live televised racing action at a time when most other series are having a winter break. The current 2019-20 season consists of 14 races in 12 locations. Two of the races (Diriyah and London) are double-headers, which means two E-Prix are held over the same weekend.
One of the undoubted highlights of the current season is the return of the British E-Prix after a break of four years. Having been one of the most high profile races in the first two seasons of Formula E when it was based in Battersea Park, 2020 sees the race headquarters move across London to a bespoke course that will be built in and around the ExCel exhibition centre in the heart of the Docklands area.
The London E-Prix (July 25/26) is a landmark event for a number of key reasons. Firstly, it will be the first time an FIA-sanctioned championship motor race will take place on the streets of London. Thanks to a law change in 2019, public roads in the UK can now be closed and used for motorsport. Before the change in the law, Formula E had to use park areas – which was both expensive and disruptive to other park users who, quite rightly, argued that open green spaces are for people and animals rather than cars (even zero emissions ones).
The second big talking point about the London E-Prix is the course itself. In addition to running on closed public roads, part of the track will weave its way inside the ExCeL London exhibition centre – another Formula E first. This, of course, is only possible because the Formula E cars have zero tailpipe emissions. Indeed, the spectators inside will generate more CO2 through breathing than the cars will.
London should also be the venue where the Formula E titles are decided. Unless a driver or team suddenly dominates all season (an unlikely scenario given the closeness of the racing so far), the two London rounds will play a pivotal role in deciding who gets to drive off with the championship top spot. Expect some seriously competitive (or combative) driving as the drivers strive to finish the season with the most points.
The rest of the 2019/20 calendar is largely the same as the previous season, albeit with a few significant tweaks. The Mexico City E-Prix that took place in February ran at the gloriously titled Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit - the same track that hosts Formula One. Although the course has been modified to better suit Formula E cars, the race proved that Formula E tech has reached the point where the series can stage competitive races and fill grandstands with fans.
Other highlights for the 2019/20 season include a couple of races that have become firm fan favourites over the years. The Rome E-Prix (4 April) has served up some incredible racing over the course of the last two seasons and promises more of the same this year. One of the longest tracks on the calendar, the Circuito Cittadino dell'EUR races around the Obelisco di Marconi, against the backdrop of the iconic Colosseo Quadrato. The circuit comes with a host of challenges for the drivers, including a section of road that wouldn’t look out of place on a rally.
The New York E-Prix is another must-watch – even if you only have a passing interest in Formula E. The track winds its way around the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal site in the heart of the Red Hook neighbourhood of Brooklyn. With 14 corners, the track is lined with miles of unforgiving concrete, with views across the Buttermilk Channel and over towards Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.
Okay, now you know the key races to watch, what can you expect if / when you go to an E-Prix? If you’ve been to a Formula One race, expect something a little more interactive. Every round features an Allianz E Village area, which is a lot more engaging than its name suggests. The E Village is a fan hub where visitors can see Formula E cars up close, grab an autograph or two from the drivers and discover more about the technical side of things – if that sort of thing butters your bread. It’s also home to locally-sourced food outlets that give a real flavour (pun intended) of the local cuisine.
In terms of costs, Formula E is considerably more affordable than Formula One. Tickets for the London E-Prix start at £49 for a grandstand seat. Even the best seats in the house are under £100, while the Allianz E-Village can be accessed for an additional £15. Given that the cheapest grandstand seat at the British F1 Grand Prix is £255, you could take a family of four to the London E-Prix for the cost of one Silverstone ticket. Another reason for joining the EV revolution, right?
2019/20 Formula E Season calendar:
1. Diriyah E-Prix (1), Saudi Arabia, 22 November 2019
2. Diriyah E-Prix (2), Saudi Arabia, 23 November 2019
3. Santiago E-Prix, Chile, 18 January 2020
4. Mexico City E-Prix, Mexico, 15 February 2020
5. Marrakesh E-Prix, Morocco, 28 February 2020
6. Sanya E-Prix, China, 21 March 2020
7. Rome E-Prix, Italy 4 April 2020
8. Paris E-Prix, France, 18 April 2020
9. Seoul E-Prix, South Korea, 3 May 2020
10. Jakarta E-Prix, Indonesia, 6 June 2020
11. Berlin E-Prix, Germany, 21 June 2020
12. New York City E-Prix, United States, 11 July 2020
13. London E Prix (1), United Kingdom, 25 July 2020
14. London E Prix (2), United Kingdom, 26 July 2020