Six calendar dilemmas to solve for Formula E 2025

Formula E was supposed to have largely completed its deals to set out the 2024/25 calendar this week before submitting it to the FIA ​​shortly before it is ratified at the World Motor Sport Council meeting next month.

The tournament is juggling many factors as it tries to shape its 11th season. Here are six big questions.

When did you start?

Formula E wants to start its next season at the end of the 2024 calendar year to return to the real year it was used before the coronavirus.

The reasons for this strategy are largely to be able to cram more races into the approximately seven-month period of their schedule and also to maximize time when there are few other races.

So it is eyeing a December start, possibly in Sao Paulo, which would mean holding two European Championship events in Brazil's largest metropolitan area in 2024, as the current season's race was held there in March.

But it's not easy. It's not because Sao Paulo is a particularly difficult place to hold a race; In fact, the Sambadrome in Anhembi is one of the simplest stadiums to be implemented according to EU standards.

Even more so because in a perfect December there would also be no Formula 1 race (there, in Abu Dhabi, on December 7) and no glitzy FIA awards ceremony in Kazakhstan (there, on December 14).

The latter is particularly difficult because of the governing body's insistence that its champions be present on the night they hand out all their shiny pots and pans. This has caused a major headache for Formula E executives as they put the schedule together.

The latest is that Sao Paulo is likely to be held on December 7 and Formula E will only accept a conflict with Formula 1's final weekend, although nothing has been decided yet.

This will be followed by the traditional mid-January date for Mexico City to start 2025, followed by the first two matches of the season in Diriyah at either the end of January or February.

Miami, Portland, or both?

The question of the United States is a complex one for Formula E.

She must have at least one US event on her calendar and it's currently in Portland. While it was largely due to necessity rather than choice, Portland was actually a successful event when it made its Formula 1 World Championship debut last June and will earn another spot next month on the current schedule.

Whether it would be enough to retain Portland for 2025 is debatable, but there appears to be a stipulation that would allow it to have a third event, although the appearance of a potential race at the Homestead facility south of Miami appears to usurp that.

If Formula E were to go for just one race in the United States, it would appear that NASCAR and sometimes the IndyCar circuit – which also includes an indoor track – would be the favourites. In Homestead, Formula E held a media event in March 2015 when founder and Chairman Alejandro Agag among others enjoyed the Gen1 car.

Relations between Formula E Holdings and Homestead president Al Garcia are strong and recent discussions are said to have been productive.

Paddock's appetite is mixed, though. The Homestead is a good walk from Miami and the surrounding area east of the property is mostly rural and located in the middle of the Southern Glades.

But Formula E has evidence from this season that location is not the organizers' primary goal now. Misano and Shanghai are at least an hour away from major city centres, and although the manufacturers are not talking about them, it is clear that Formula E is juggling some aspects of its calendar in terms of cost and feasibility, with the swap being made from the streets of Rome to Misano. Key case study.

But is it also possible that there is something more attractive and closer to the heart of Miami? It is also believed that some talks have taken place regarding a stadium within Miami itself, although that is likely to be with an eye to 2026 rather than next year.

The possibility of holding a race in Los Angeles, particularly around the home stadium (believed to be the home of the Los Angeles Dodgers), is believed to have fallen by the wayside in recent months.

There is still great ambition to return to a major American city. This is largely because Formula E's majority shareholder, Liberty Global, is based in the United States.

However, it is believed that Portland will do very well in terms of ticket sales for its race next month, and Formula E CEO Geoff Dodds recently told The Race that he “certainly wouldn't write off Portland as a venue.”

“On the other hand, North America is the market where we get the most interest from elsewhere to organize racing,” Dodds added. “There are some top-tier US cities that are showing interest.

“If you asked me to write a list of obvious places, we've raced in New York before, I think Los Angeles is an obvious place, I think Miami is an obvious place, I think Atlanta is an obvious place, [so are] Phoenix, Austin.

“I also love the idea of ​​places like Denver, where there's this real juxtaposition between this history and heritage in the auto industry and the future of cars.”

China question

When Dodds took office about a year ago, he was, as he put it, “quite interested in getting us back into the race in China.”

Mission accomplished then, as racers gather in Shanghai this weekend for the first FE race on the Chinese mainland since 2015.

But the slight caveat is the fact that the quickest, and perhaps only, way to achieve this was to use a permanent circuit. The most notable of these was the Shanghai International Circuit, which has been used by Formula 1 and the World Endurance Championship for the past 20 years.

Dodds was present at Formula 1's first Chinese Grand Prix in 2004 as Honda's chief marketing officer. He knows and loves China, having spent a week there earlier this year with ERT team manager Alex Hui to whip up the promotional excitement.

Formula E should be in China for several reasons. The world's largest electric vehicle market should have an E-Prix, and almost all current manufacturers have interest from the point of view of car sales in the country.

But the Shanghai Formula 1 circuit is clearly a stopgap. Possibilities in downtown Shanghai, Guangzhou and Szenzhen are thought to be a melting pot of future Formula E racing, as could Hainan Island, whose largest city Sanya hosted the Formula E championship in 2019.

Dodds admits that the Shanghai Formula 1 track is not the best fit for Formula E.

“I think they have the capacity to hold 100,000 people there,” Dodds said. “It's a very large space, it won't be in the city centre, that's our heritage and part of our DNA.

“I'll be very interested to see the response we get in Shanghai. Shanghai is a great city for us to race in, and I'm not going to lie to you, if I had the opportunity, would I rather race on the Bund? [district in central Shanghai]? maybe yes.

“But let's see what happens at the racetrack next week and what kind of show we will put on.”

It seems likely that at least three Asian events will be held from next May until the end of June.

That should start with the second Tokyo E-Prix – a little later than this year, with a possible May 17 date – and end with a return to China in mid-to-late June.

In between is likely to come a return to Indonesia's Jakarta – which will return to the schedule after a year off due to complications related to this year's national elections.

However, there may be an added Asian bonus with rumors of a race in the Thai city of Chiang Mai, which has a big push for renewable and sustainable energy currently underpinning its eco-tourism initiatives.

Thai Prime Minister Sritha Thavisin and Soft Power Strategy Committee Deputy Chairman Pitongtarn Shinawatra met with Dodds in March and talks are said to be ongoing about future cooperation, although 2025 may be too early for the first event to begin.

A race in Thailand in 2025 will be seen as a bonus by Formula E, although some space remains after Shanghai's place ahead of the London final in July. A gap in March is also possible, but with a less attractive logistical situation.

Italian racing needs work

For all its charm, charm and great location, Misano Adriatico is not a place that will interest Formula E teams and drivers in the long term. It's also not a place that makes much commercial or marketing sense for Formula E moving forward.

That's why different cities are being looked at to replace them next season, with cities such as Bologna, Modena and Turin mentioned as potential ideal locations for a little more Formula E racing. Fini, Vidi, Vichy Back in one of the true global homes of racing.

Along with Diriyah, the Eurozone's Roma Street track was the most challenging venue in Formula E, and its absence was keenly felt. But it lost a significant amount of money to the promoter and got a big slice of the teams' collision damage.

There is no doubt that Misano will serve as a safety net for Formula E, and it is likely that if Formula E were to have Italian races, the MotoGP track could remain in March or April in 2025.

Elsewhere in Europe, there will be some surprises, with a Monaco fixture expected in early May, and two matches in Berlin already signed and sealed for mid-April.

Last year in London?

Formula E talks with Silverstone fell through earlier this year as it looked to secure a permanent UK home outside the current London venue ExCeL Arena which has hosted a race since 2021 and will do so until at least 2025.

The final year of the contract expires next year, and while flirting with Silverstone and others could be seen as covering all the bases, the UK, and ideally its capital, is a necessity for Formula E.

The promoters are based on the road, a third of the drivers live in or around the place, and half of the teams have bases within a two-hour drive.

ExCeL works at all levels except the sporting level. Its infrastructure, ambiance, corporate amenities, fan interactions, and in/out quirks are all great USPs.

But it is the stop/start and winding nature of the track that concerns Formula E and the FIA. Breaking away from the current rules, ExCeL will become Formula E's Monaco, where the Gen4 cars are getting faster. Too narrow to overtake and too contained to have clean racing, it is likely a Formula 1 testament to Nelson Piquet's legendary Monaco quote in Formula 1: “It's like riding a bike in your living room.”

The key point for Formula E now is whether it can find a suitable replacement in the UK for 2026. Could another venue be built such as the Olympic Park in Stratford or use one of the capital's many stadiums?

The Olympic site has been examined before and it is believed that some other stadiums have been visited and examined in recent years.

Ajaj's dream of racing in the mall or in the horse guards' parade was always just a dream. More realistic is a stadium race using the surrounding roads in early summer when Premier League football teams are on the beach.

Or Formula E could endure the short-term pain and accept that its cars can't stretch their legs in ExCeL but it's a good place to plug and play, and thus decide to build its legacy there by extending its contract with the paddock beyond the summer of 2025.


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