Battersea Park had previously staged the London ePrix in 2015 and 2016, but protests about the disruption it caused and the potential environmental impact of such an event in a green space area forced Formula E bosses to look elsewhere.
The calendar has since expanded from 10 races in 2015-16 to 13 in 2018-19, with further growth planned for the future. A street circuit in Seoul is set to host South Korea’s first ePrix in 2020, while hopes are high that the event in London will be both ground-breaking and capture the public’s imagination more than ever before.
The New Home of Formula E in the UK
The ExCeL’s big debut as a Formula E venue has been pencilled in for the weekend of July 25/26, with races scheduled for both days to bring the season to a finish. The circuit announced for the race is 2.4km long, with drivers set to navigate in a clockwise direction around a challenging track consisting of 23 corners.
Starting and finishing in the ExCeL, the circuit also runs along the Thames waterfront and will go close to both the Custom House and Prince Regent train stations. A multi-year agreement has been signed, setting the ExCeL up to be not only the new home of Formula E in the UK but also a key part of the sport’s future.
"I’m extremely excited to be bringing the ABB FIA Formula E Championship and electric racing back to the UK," said the series' founder and CEO Alejandro Agag. “Every motorsport series would love to host an event in London - this has been our desire for quite some time now and we’re delighted to have found a new home at the ExCeL.”
Promoting Clean Technologies
Series organisers and ExCeL bosses are also optimistic that the sport’s return to London will have a wider significance, highlighting the positives of electric-powered cars at a time when the toxicity of air in major cities remains a major talking point throughout the world.
Agag said: “Formula E coming back to the UK extends beyond pure racing excitement, it’s also a strong message for London to tackle inner-city air pollution by promoting clean technologies and electric sustainable mobility.”
When the fans gather down by the Royal Victoria Dock and watch the Gen2 cars at close quarters, it could even be that they witness a homegrown winner. Sam Bird, of the Virgin Racing team, won at Battersea in 2015 and is set to be among the favourites when Formula E returns to London.
He has become much more consistent in recent years and is in contention to win the Drivers’ Championship in 2019, having got his first win of the season at the Santiago ePrix. He faces stiff competition from early season pacesetters Jerome d’Ambrosio and Antonio Felix da Costa, as well as defending champion Jean-Eric Vergne and highly-rated German newcomer Pascal Wehrlein, but Bird himself has admitted that he is relishing how open it is with everyone taking points off each other.
The thought of racing in London again in 2020 has also given Bird extra motivation. He said: “It's massively exciting that Formula E is coming back to London. I was fortunate enough to win one of previous London ePrixs, in my hometown. It's great that motorsport is coming back to the UK, with such a large fanbase.”
Drivers Championship Odds
|Antonio Felix da Costa||4/1|