A gap on the ten round calendar of the all-electric FIA Formula E Championship was the result of the FIA’s decision made in April to remove Rio de Janeiro from the inaugural calendar. Rumours about a replacement city are popping up. But what will happen?
One thing is clear: Formula E tries to incorporate a tenth city. But it is not a ‘must have’. “It isn’t an easy process. In comparison with a concert, you can’t decide two weeks in advance that you’ll go to another city. There are a lot of things to evaluate and the a thorough process needs to be completed,” Jaume Sallares, Formula E’s Chief Marketing Officer said during an exclusive media meeting ElectricAutosport.com attended.
A promotion poster showed ‘ten iconic cities’. Nine of them are on the existing calendar, but Mexico City was new to most. ElectricAutosport.com heard rumours about this city earlier this year, but still no one was able to comment on this topic. “There are many cities on our radar. But if it doesn’t work out, we’ll be comfortable with nine,” Sallares said.
A possible tenth city should be relevant to the championship. “For example we look at the level of pollution, market for our partners and the interest in motorsport which we find important. But some Nordic countries aren’t large, do not have a legacy in motorsport but they are a reference in terms of EV sales. So, there are a lot of things to consider,” Sallares explains.
A tenth race is considered to be hosted somewhere in the Americas. As logistics partner DHL and Formula E agreed, they will try to reduce the amount of the carbon footprint as much as possible. “So flying from South America to Paris in February is nonsense because then we’ll need to fly everything back to Miami one month later,” he arguments.
When cities meet Formula E’s criteria, they will consider the feasibility of a city track like technical possibilities and costs. “An interested city can offer a location. Then we’ll go there with drivers as advisors to see if there is a possibility to create an interesting track layout. The streets are what they are, so we don’t have all the freedom to make changes. Once we have a proposal we’re happy with, we will contact the FIA. They will send their engineers and architects and sit down with the city to see if it fulfils the safety requirements. Then we also need to find a suitable date,” Sallares explains.
Formula E aims to create a long-term partnership, initially up to four years. This is not only to create a solid basis for the championship, but also to spread costs over a number of years. From what ElectricAutosport.com understands from other city centre events, the costs for fences and concrete blocks can easily reach two or three million euros.
Going back to Rio
Rio de Janeiro is likely to get a spot on a future calendar. “The mayor of Rio was the first mayor that personally committed to the championship. We try to go to Rio in the second season. Whenever it is available, we would like to go,” Sallares knows. But they might have an alternative in Sao Paolo.
On the long term Formula E tries to increase the amount of races by two each season until 16 events are on its calendar. New race events are likely to be held in key markets for car manufactures. “Japan is an important country as Honda, Toyota and Nissan are located there, which are developing electric vehicles. India and the Middle East are important for us too,” Sallares believes. But he can’t guarantee anything. “It is already a big challenge to put nine or ten races together.”
Preparation for a city centre racetrack takes, preferably, more than six months. So if Formula E proceeds with a tenth race, it wouldn’t take long before an announcement will be made. The missing venue is originally planned for February 14, 2015.