Formula E’s flying start

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Credit:_ chrisUK [CC-BY-SA 2.0], via Flickr.
As the Formula 1 season draws to a close with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix taking place on Saturday the 1st of December, racing eyes turn to Formula E, whose season only started on the 22nd of November and runs through to the 26th of July, with the 13th and 14th race taking place in London.

14 races across 12 cities in 5 continents. That’s how much Formula E has grown. Only in its sixth season, interest in Formula 1 has grown almost as fast as the cars around the track. This season starts in Saudi Arabia on the Riyadh street circuit, starring a distinctive second sector, with the track overall featuring 21 turns. Narrow sections of track, 40 oC desert heat and dusty conditions form a tricky triumvirate for racing engineers, but the 2 month Christmas break allows them to recover and strategize for the third race of the season held in Santiago, Chile.

Saudi Arabia have a 10 year deal to host formula E, and are reportedly discussing a Formula 1 race as part of their ‘Saudi Vision 2030’ tourism ambitions. The Times suggests the Saudi race could be a reality as soon as 2021, but the lengthening of the Formula 1 season is bound to cause difficulties both logistically and financially. The Middle East is home to two other hotly anticipated races, the early season Bahrain GP, and the Abu Dhabi finisher. Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE hosts the closing race of the season at the Yas Marina circuit. Going strong since 2009, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is the first-ever day/night race, as the race starts in daylight, but by chequered flag time, the circuit and stands are cloaked in darkness and lit only by floodlights.

Credit:CaterhamF1 [CC-BY-SA 2.0], via Flickr.
After Santiago, Chile Formula E heads to Mexico City which also hosts a Formula 1 Grand Prix. This year, Hamilton dominated after avoiding a first-lap collision. He could have secured the championship here, but did not. Formula E then heads to North Africa for the Marrakesh ePrix, being held in place of Hong Kong due to the ongoing protests. FE goes to China, Italy, France, and then to South Korea and Indonesia which are both making their debuts on the calendar, in Seoul and Jakarta respectively, both street circuits

FE returns to familiar territory in Berlin and then New York City, the former finale. London, which hosted the 2015 and 2016 seasons at a temporary track in Battersea Park, will host the closing races on the 25th and 26th of July 2020 in and around the Excel. The 2.4 km tracks features 23 turns and will be Formula E’s first indoor/outdoor track, as cars segue from the Halls of the Excel to the roads of Royal Victoria Dock.

In the 2019 season, Monaco and Switzerland featured, but will not make an appearance this year as the Monaco ePrix is a biennial event occurring every two years, and the Swiss event was a one-time show. Overall, this makes this season a single race longer, pushing Formula E in the same direction as the soon to be 22-race Formula 1.

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Nathaniel Ogunniyi is a second-year Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) student at the University of Southampton. He writes mostly about rugby, F1 and politics. He's also a SUSU Trustee, so chat to him if you have any concerns.

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