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Special feature

The problem Formula E may face by sticking to its current calendar DNA

The 2024-25 Formula E calendar features plenty of familiar locations as well as some exciting new prospects. But at its core, the all-electric championship is trying to focus on remaining in the heart of cities despite the future issue this might cause

Sam Bird, NEOM McLaren Formula E Team, e-4ORCE 04, Mitch Evans, Jaguar Racing, Jaguar I-TYPE 6

Sam Bird, NEOM McLaren Formula E Team, e-4ORCE 04, Mitch Evans, Jaguar Racing, Jaguar I-TYPE 6

Photo by: Andrew Ferraro / Motorsport Images

Since taking on his new role almost one year ago, Formula E CEO Jeff Dodds has been vocal on several topics as he looks to guide the all-electric championship to bigger and better things.

The latest noise has centred around the 2024-25 Formula E calendar that was released earlier this month, having been approved by the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council and which features a scheduled 17 races across 11 locations.

The campaign begins in Sao Paulo in December this year, races across two calendar seasons - something which hasn’t happened since before the pre-COVID era - and stretches until July 2025, where it will once again finish in London at the ExCeL.

Tokyo, a popular new addition for this year, and Monaco both upgrade to double-headers given the appeal of both, while Jakarta in Indonesia returns after a one-year hiatus caused by local politics.

Delving deeper, though, Dodds has made no secret of the fact that he sees Formula E as a “city racing series” and “of those 17 races, less than 25% of them will be on fixed circuits.

“Meaning from a sticking to our DNA point of view, three-quarters of our races will be on street circuits or built circuits,” says Dodds. “It’s a real mixture of old favourites. Lots of the feedback we get from teams, manufacturers, from fans, is this kind of desire for hardcore calendar continuity.”

Of the 11 locations listed on the calendar, only three of them are at permanent facilities including Mexico City’s Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, the Shanghai International Circuit in China and the latest US addition, the Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Formula E added Shanghai to the calendar for the current season

Formula E added Shanghai to the calendar for the current season

Photo by: Andreas Beil

While nine of the venues have been raced at previously by the championship, two new places will be visited for the first time, including Miami’s speedway, along with a TBD listed for 8 March, which Dodds confirmed will be new and Autosport understands is Chiang Mai in Thailand.

The American race will be held on 12 April and takes place on the majority of Homestead’s infield road course section, as well as potentially part of the oval, becoming the fifth different venue used for a Formula E race in the US after previous visits to a purpose-built Miami circuit, Long Beach, New York and, most recently, Portland.

“We think it’s a really good circuit, well-suited to our style of racing. The Miami name that comes with it, from a global television audience, the Miami name is a big draw, perhaps a bigger draw than cities such as Portland,” says Dodds, who admits that a second location in the US is being sought.

"The reality is for the location [Misano], which is quite a way from the nearest airport and the style of racing which not everyone loved, it didn’t feel to us like that was going to be the permanent, long-term home" Jeff Dodds

“We actually have probably seven or eight different large US cities currently talking to us about putting a race on in their city. So those conversations are live and always ongoing. I think our calendar can sustain two races in North America and probably two races in China.”

But while Dodds is already looking to expand Formula E’s growth in markets where sales of EV technology is on the rise, a notable absence from the calendar next term is there will be no race in Italy.

The Misano World Circuit hosted a double-header earlier this year for the first time, but drew criticism, as the wide, flowing expanses of the Italian venue produced frenetic racing that has become disliked by many drivers, while the generally remote location meant Formula E organisers did not seek a return.

“The reality is for the location, which is quite a way from the nearest airport and the style of racing which not everyone loved, it didn’t feel to us like that was going to be the permanent, long-term home,” admits Dodds. “We think we need to be closer to a large city and ideally we would be on a built or street circuit, not a permanent circuit.”

Misano has been dropped in part due to its remote location

Misano has been dropped in part due to its remote location

Photo by: Andreas Beil

While the push for more street circuits closer to the heart of cities makes sense on paper, given that was one of the unique selling points of the championship when it formed 10 years ago, in reality, it now poses a growing problem due to the ever-increasing speeds of the cars.

The Gen3 Evo which will be used next season is due to be faster than its predecessor, while the planned introduction of the Gen4 machine, featuring nearly double the power and slick tyres for the first time, will greatly compound the problem Formula E faces if it wishes to continue racing on tight and twisty street venues.

Not only would these locations limit the true potential of the machines, but greater costs would also need to be spent to ensure the venues are up to a suitable safety standard. The increased speeds of the Gen3 machine was one of the reasons why the long-standing Rome venue was dropped from the calendar this season, the layout deemed redundant and even unsafe following a nasty multi-car accident on the last visit.

“Formula 1 is introducing street circuits into their calendar and the cars are much bigger and more powerful than we are, so it can be done,” says Dodds. “We are going to locations we’re really keen to race at but if it’s not practical to build a race circuit in the middle of the city, we will look at permanent circuits but it’s about finding the right permanent circuits.

"Good example of that, I would love to have a race on the Bund in Shanghai, but the reality is 50 minutes away you’ve got a world-class race circuit with world-class facilities with a willingness to make the track fit our needs in the future.

“The ambition would be to have a retention of our DNA, racing in cities, but to bring appropriate fixed circuits in where we think we can show the capability of the car and we can attract the fanbase.”

For now, at least, Formula E’s focus has moved back to street and city circuits which will be welcome news to drivers, many of whom have grown to dislike the peloton style of racing that permanent circuits generally produce because of the current breed of car.

But how long that remains a viable option for the future of the championship is up for debate as it continues to push EV technology that may mean current venues risk becoming a non-viable option.

City tracks are back in vogue after Formula E flirted with permanent facilities

City tracks are back in vogue after Formula E flirted with permanent facilities

Photo by: Andreas Beil

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