CAPTION: Formula E cars will return to London in 2020
Since its inception in 2014, Formula E has become one of the most popular single seater race formats outside of Formula 1. It has grown a worldwide following and has a race calendar that sees racing on most continents.
During its 5 seasons, the Formula E paddock has visited nearly all of the world's major cities including Moscow, Beijing, New York, Berlin, Paris, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong and Montreal. London also featured on the calendar of the first and second seasons, with the Formula E championship ending with a double race weekend in the British capital’s Battersea Park. However, the sport has not returned to London since due to the logistical issues of holding a race in the busy, narrow streets of Britain. This was partly due to concerns over the noise and disruption affecting the nearby residents.
It was announced recently that the 2019-20 season will see London return to the Formula E calendar, but with the race held in a different location. Instead of the busy, residential area of Battersea, the 2020 London E-Prix will see drivers battle for victory around London’s Royal Docks and the ExCel exhibition centre. Like the event at Battersea Park, the new London track will hold two races over a weekend in a season finale double-header. The track will feature significant changes in elevation, a long straight, tight and twisty hairpins, and a narrow section. It is hoped that this combination will create some exciting action during the two races.
The circuit’s pit lane will be on the edge of the Royal Victoria Dock, with the race track passing inside and under the exhibition centre, using its service roads. Although races were held in 2015 and 2016, the circuit was inside the confines of a park. This means that the 2020 London E-Prix will be the first official FIA event to be held on the streets of London since non-championship Formula 1 races stopped being held in Crystal Palace in the early 1970s.
Significant work will need to be undertaken to get the facility ready for the E-Prix, with steel and concrete barriers erected, vehicle barriers removed from roadways, and the large store of wheelie bins removed from what will be the race track. The team in charge of the organisation of this work will be facing a significant challenge, as they will need to ensure that the circuit is safe for homologation by the FIA but also ensure the facility can be returned to its original state easily after the races are over. Like with many street circuits, some of the barriers will be installed weeks in advance with the final work to close off the roads undertaken just days or hours before to minimise disruption.
CAPTION: The Formula E cars will race around the ExCeL London Exhibition Centre
For fans that are looking to add more excitement to the London E-Prix, services like Fox Bet can be used to place bets on sporting events right from a mobile device. Other entertainment will also be available at the race, with the typical funfair attractions and opportunities to get up close and personal with the Formula E cars.
The announcement of the 2020 London E-Prix is a blow to Formula One. Former boss Bernie Ecclestone had been trying for decades to arrange for a Grand Prix to be held on the streets of London. Since their takeover of the sport in 2017, new owners Liberty Media have continued this push. Formula E is at an advantage over Formula One for organising these street races in busy capital cities, since a whole race weekend is compressed into a single day, rather than the Friday to Sunday format of Formula One. This creates less disruption, for a shorter time and can limit road closures to a weekend, limiting the effects on commuters.