Formula E Confirmed for London’s Battersea Park
By Automology July 3, 2014
Our guest writer, MAC, is a Brit (did you guess already?). So, he’s particularly interested that Formula E is (sort of) confirmed that it’s going to where he came from…
Whenever I think of electric race circuits, my mind harps back to the Scaletrix kids toy of yesteryear.
Formula E is almost with us and the media circus surrounding it is just now starting to ‘ramp-up’. The London event is the latest to gain the attention of the world’s media with the announcement that the inaugural London race will be held on a circuit laid out in London’s Battersea Park on 27 June of 2015. So, does a circuit around a park qualify as a street circuit? The Melbourne F1 race, which is billed as a “street race”, is in fact around Albert Park, so I guess it does.
Alejandro Agag, the CEO of Formula E, announced the location of the London ePrix at the Championships Global Launch which was held at another London landmark, the Camden Roundhouse, a railway engine shed back in the days of the steam locomotive and now one of the top venues in the city. Central to Agag’s presentation was the promotional footage of the electric single-seaters racing across Westminster Bridge, with the Palace of Westminster and Elizabeth Tower in the background (UK Parliament and Big Ben to those of you who don’t come from London). Thankfully, the bridge was closed at the time.
Although the calendar states that the London race will take place in June, there are still some hurdles to overcome, not least the feelings of local residents, before the event becomes a certainty.
‘We are now going to begin a process of engaging with all the stakeholders,’ Agag told reporters. ‘We will talk to the local residents and the Friends of Battersea Park association to reassure them on all their questions about the race, so they’re sure that disruption will be minimal and the race will be a good addition to the park.’
‘The city of London and the Mayor’s office are very keen for this to happen, but we won’t impose ourselves,’ he added. ‘We’ll only race there if everyone’s happy about. We really hope it happens, as whoever designed Battersea Park 200 years ago designed it with a racetrack inside!’ Also at the event being hosted by Agag was London’s deputy mayor for policy and planning, Sir Edward Lister, who said, ‘Boris Johnson made it absolutely clear he wanted city hall to help make this happen, and we’re very excited it’s becoming a reality. The city and the mayor’s office are fully supportive, but the details and local consultations are a matter for Formula E and Wandsworth Council now.’
Other news coming out of the launch event at the roundhouse was the announcement of several more drivers that are now confirmed for the Formula E series, including Brit Katherine Legge for the Amlin Aguri team; Le Mans stars, Nicolas Prost and Sebastien Buemi for e.dams Renault; and Italian Michaela Cerruti, who will partner Jarno Trulli in his TrulliGP squad. Ex-F1 racer, Nick Heidfeld, has also signed up alongside Toyota Le Mans driver, Stephane Sarrazin, with the Venturi team.
‘With the level of drivers involved and the cities we’re going to, I’m very excited to be part of this,’ Heidfeld said. ‘Formula E looks like the place to be right now. Everybody, even sponsors are more interested in it, because it’s a lot more environmentally friendly.’ Heidfeld, along with several other drivers, got his first chance to drive the Spark Formula E car at a shakedown recently. ‘There’s a lot of torque available early on,’ he explained when asked what it was like driving the e-race car. ‘With a normal engine, the torque increases gradually, but with an electric motor it’s available instantly and there’s a flat torque curve. We’ll be some way off F1 – there’s a bit more than 300bhp – but the cars are great fun to drive and quick enough for cities.’
The inaugural round is slated to happen in Beijing, China on 13 September of this year and thus far, events have been confirmed in places like Berlin, Monte Carlo, Miami, Long Beach and Paris, to name a few.
Unlike other racing series where the teams come from places far afield, all 10 teams for the opening season will be based at the series’ headquarters in Donington Park, Derbyshire, which is in the UK. To an old, seasoned race car fanatic, this does seem a bit incestuous, but at least this means members of the public can attend Formula E test sessions on 3 to 4 July, 9 to 10 July and 19 August free of charge to see the entire field come out and play.
images: iqtoys.co.nz, electricautosport.com