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Formula E

Formula E's super-sub plan for race cancellations

by Sam Smith
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula E is considering having a bespoke substitute race that it can call upon if events are cancelled, even at short notice.

The championship has been on the receiving end of local politics and local promoter difficulties in two of the last three seasons with planned Vancouver and Hyderabad races respectively.

While the cancellation of the Vancouver round led to a last-minute scramble to plug in a race at Marrakesh in June 2022, this season there is no replacement for the Hyderabad fixture that became a fallow weekend in the schedule.

That left Formula E with a seven-week gap between rounds in Diriyah and this Saturday’s Sao Paulo E-Prix at a time, particularly in February, when there is little other racing on, meaning it not only lost momentum in the early part of its season but also could not capitalise on what are, according to Formula E, strong media figures from the Diriyah double-header and Mexico opener that made up its first three races.

Speaking to The Race about how Formula E can try to preserve a set number of races in future seasons, CEO Jeff Dodds said that a specific circuit could be allocated reserve status.

“It's complex, but if you choose to keep going down that route [of hosting street races in major cities], you do accept there's volatility that comes with a calendar because things can happen,” said Dodds.

“A lot of the conversation we're having here now is: Do you accept disruption is part and parcel of having street circuits? Or instead, do you say, ‘Look, there's options, we could pre-book fixed circuits, on certain dates, and pay small holding deposits if something goes wrong'?”

The reality though for Formula E is that logistics are complex. Additionally, Formula E doesn't want to be a pure out-and-out permanent circuit racing series.

It has to be racing and taking its product to a percentage of city-centre or close-to-city-centre facilities, whether they are pop-ups or semi-permanent layouts.

At the same time, Formula E can’t keep accepting that, as Dodds put it, “you might end up with a six-week gap in the calendar, because that's good for nobody”.

That is why a substitute event is being considered, but where that might be is yet to be ascertained.

Valencia's Circuit Ricardo Tormo recently became a logistics and operations hub for Formula E and has hosted pre-season testing every year since 2017, as well as the series' first-ever double-header on a permanent facility in April 2021.

“The teams know it and that's definitely one on the shortlist,” admitted Dodds. “But the challenge is that if you lose a race, and it's on the other side of the world, it's logistically tough [to get everything to Valencia].

“You might actually need one over in Asia, and one in Europe. But definitely this is something on our to do list.”

Sao Paulo could host another race this year

This weekend’s Sao Paulo E-Prix could be the first of two staged this calendar year as the venue eyes the possibility of kicking off the 2024-25 season.

A South and North American leg is currently the favourite to start the next campaign, which at present looks likely to begin either at the end of November or in early December.

It could start Formula E's biggest-ever schedule, with potentially as many as 18 races being looked at for what will be Formula E’s 11th season and the first of the Gen3 Evo era.

Negotiations with a new US venue, which is believed to be potentially in and around the Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles, as mentioned by Michael Andretti in the media last year, are believed to be ongoing about a race in either December 2024 or January 2025.

The Race understands that this could possibly be in conjunction with another motorsport series should plans come to fruition.

Asked about a race in Los Angeles, Dodds said: “LA would be an amazing city to race in and, if you think about it, we’ve got shareholders and investors based out of North America [Liberty Global].

“LA is a great city for a race but it is one of a number of cities we've been talking to in North America. There's some super cool options available at the moment and LA is definitely one of them but it's not the only one.

“I think you have two logical options in LA. What Michael talked about was Dodgers Stadium, so that's out there.

“We've obviously worked in Long Beach before [Formula E raced there in 2015, above, and 2016], and I think it's a cool street circuit.

“But you look around North America now, particularly with Formula 1 actually opening up the interest for single-seater motorsport outside of IndyCar in North America, there are a lot of interesting cities.

“We've had a lot of direct approaches from the US.”

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