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Formula E

Six calendar dilemmas to solve for Formula E 2025

by Sam Smith
9 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula E should have pretty much completed its deals to put in place its 2024/25 calendar this week ahead of submission to the FIA shortly before it is ratified at the World Motor Sport Council Meeting next month.

The championship is juggling a lot of factors as it tries to shape its 11th season. Here are six big questions.

When to start?

Formula E wants to start its next season at the end of the 2024 calendar year to return to the genuine year straddle that it was used to pre-COVID.

The reasons for this strategy are largely so it can get more races crammed into the roughly seven-month period of its schedule and also to maximise the time when little other racing is on.

So it is eyeing a December start, probably in Sao Paulo, meaning two FE events in Brazil’s biggest urban sprawl in 2024 as the current season’s race there happened in March.

But it is not proving easy. Not because Sao Paulo is an especially tricky place to put a race on; in fact, the Sambadrome venue in the Anhembi district is one of the simpler ones to execute by FE standards.

It is more because in an ideal December there wouldn’t also be a Formula 1 race (there is, in Abu Dhabi, on December 7) and there wouldn’t be a glitzy FIA Awards in Kigali in Rwnada (there is, on December 14).

The latter is especially difficult because of the insistence of the governing body on having its champions present on the night it hands out all its shiny pots and pans. This has given Formula E executives a decent-sized headache as they put the schedule together.

The latest is that Sao Paulo is likely to happen on December 7 and Formula E will just accept a clash with F1’s finale weekend, although nothing is fixed quite yet.

That would be followed by the traditional mid-January date for Mexico City to begin 2025 itself, followed by the first double-header of the season in Diriyah either at the end of January or February.

Miami, Portland, or both?

The United States question is a complicated one for Formula E.

It has to have at least one US event on its calendar and presently that is at Portland. While that was largely through necessity and not choice, Portland was actually a successful event when it made its FE debut last June and it gets another slot next month on the present schedule.

Whether it will be enough for Portland to be kept for 2025 is debatable but there seems provision for it to get a third event, although the emergence of a possible race at the Homestead facility south of Miami appears to be usurping it.

Should Formula E plump for just one US race then the NASCAR and sometime IndyCar venue - which also has an infield course - appears to be a favourite. It was at Homestead that Formula E conducted a media event in March 2015 when founder and chairman Alejandro Agag among others had some fun in a Gen1 car.

Relations between Formula E Holdings and Homestead’s president Al Garcia are strong and recent discussions are said to have been fruitful.

Paddock appetite for it though is mixed. Homestead is a good hike from Miami and the surrounding area east of the facility is predominantly rural, sitting amid the Southern Glades.

But Formula E has evidence from this season that location is not the primary optic for the organisers now. Misano and Shanghai are at least an hour from major city centres and while the manufacturers are not waxing lyrical about them, Formula E is clearly juggling some aspects of its calendar in relation to cost and feasibility, with the swap from the Rome streets to Misano being a key case study.

But could something more appealing and closer to the heart of Miami be possible too? Some talks are also believed to have taken place with a stadium within Miami itself, although it is likely that this will be with an eye more on 2026 than next year.

The possibility of a race in Los Angeles, in particular around a major stadium (believed to be the LA Dodgers' home), is believed to have fallen by the wayside in recent months.

There still remains a big ambition though to return to a major American city. That is largely because the majority shareholder of Formula E, Liberty Global, is based in the US.

That said, Portland is believed to be doing very well on ticket sales for its race next month and Formula E CEO Jeff Dodds recently told The Race that he “certainly wouldn’t write off Portland as a venue”.

“On the other hand, North America is the market where we have the most incoming interest to us from other places to put on races,” added Dodds. “There are some proper tier-one US cities that are showing an interest.

“If you said to me to write down a list of obvious places, we raced in New York before, I think Los Angeles is an obvious place, I think Miami is an obvious place, I think Atlanta is an obvious place, [so are] Phoenix, Austin.

“I also like the idea of places like Denver, where there’s this real juxtaposition between this history and heritage in automotive manufacturing and the future of automotive.”

The China question

When Dodds took up his position pretty much a year ago he was, in his own words, “absolutely fixated on getting us back racing in China”.

Mission accomplished then, as the paddock congregates in Shanghai this weekend for the first FE race on the Chinese mainland since 2015.

But the slight caveat is the fact that the fastest, and probably only, way of achieving that was by using a permanent circuit. The obvious one was the Shanghai International Circuit, used by F1 and the World Endurance Championship over the last 20 years.

Dodds was at F1’s first ever Chinese Grand Prix in 2004 in his role as a head marketing honcho for Honda. He knows and loves China, spending a week out there earlier this year with ERT team principal Alex Hui to stoke up the promotional fervour.

Formula E has to be in China for all sorts of reasons. The biggest EV marketplace in the world must have an E-Prix, and the present manufacturers pretty much all have an interest from an automotive sales standpoint in the country.

But the Shanghai F1 circuit is clearly a stopgap. Possibilities in downtown Shanghai, Guangzhou and Szenchen are believed to be in the melting pot for future FE races, as could be the island of Hainan, where its biggest city Sanya hosted FE in 2019.

Dodds admits the Shanghai F1 track is not the best fit for Formula E.

“I think they have a capacity for 100,000 there,” said Dodds. “It’s a very large footprint, and you’re not smack bang in the middle of a city, which is our heritage and part of our DNA.

“I will be very interested to see what response we get in Shanghai. Shanghai is a brilliant city for us to race in, and I won’t lie to you, given the option, would I rather be racing down in the Bund [district in central Shanghai]? Probably yes.

“But let’s see what happens at the racetrack next week and what kind of show we put on.”

Asia's triple- or quadruple-header

It looks likely that an at least triple header of Asian events will take place from next May through to the end of June.

That should start with the second Tokyo E-Prix - slightly later than this year, with a possible May 17 date - and end with a return to China in mid-to-late-June.

Between that will probably come a return to Indonesian venue Jakarta - which will come back on to the schedule after a year off was triggered by complications with national elections this year.

However, there could be an added Asian bonus with rumours about a race in the Thai city of Chiang Mai, which has a huge push for renewable and sustainable energy currently underpinning its eco-tourism initiatives.

Thai PM Srettha Thavisin and deputy head of the Soft Power Strategy Committee Paetongtarn Shinawatra met with Dodds in March and talks are said to be ongoing about a future collaboration, although 2025 might be too soon to get a first event off the ground.

A 2025 Thai race will be seen as a bonus by Formula E, although provision remains with some space after the Shanghai slot before the London finale in July. A gap in March could also be a possibility, albeit with a less attractive logistics situation.

Italian race needs work

For all its quirks, charm and wonderful location, Misano Adriatico is not a venue that tickles the fancy of Formula E teams and drivers for the long-term. Nor is it a place that makes much commercial or marketing sense for Formula E going forward.

That is why various cities are being scoped out for a replacement next season, with the likes of Bologna, Modena and Turin being mentioned as possible ideal locations for Formula E to go a bit more veni, vidi, vici again in one of racing’s true global homes.

Along with Diriyah, the Rome street track in the EUR district was Formula E’s most challenging venue, and its absence is felt keenly. But it lost a large chunk of money for the promoter and gained a large slice of crash damage for teams.

Misano will no doubt be a safety net for Formula E and the likelihood is, if FE absolutely must have Italian races, the MotoGP track could stay for a March or April date in 2025.

Elsewhere in Europe there will be few surprises, with an early May date for Monaco expected and a double-header in Berlin already signed and sealed for mid-April. 

One last year in London?

Formula E’s talks with Silverstone cooled earlier this year as it looked to lock-in a permanent UK home beyond the present London ExCeL Arena venue that has hosted a race since 2021 and will do so until at least 2025.

The final year of the contract next year will be seen out and, while the flirting with Silverstone and others could be seen as a cover all bases exercise, the UK, and ideally its capital, is a necessity for Formula E.

The promoter is based down the road, a third of the drivers live in or around the place, and half of the teams have bases within two hours’ drive.

ExCeL works on every level apart from the sporting. Its infrastructure, atmosphere, corporate amenities, fan engagements and inside/outside quirks are all great USPs.

But the stop/start and sinuous nature of the track is what Formula E and the FIA are concerned about. Beyond the present ruleset, ExCeL will become Formula E’s Monaco as the Gen4 cars get faster still. Too tight for overtaking and too contained to have clean races, it is likely to be FE’s testament to Nelson Piquet’s legendary quote about Monaco in F1: “It’s like riding a bike in your living room.”

The key point for Formula E now is whether it can find a viable UK alternative for 2026. Could another venue like the Olympic Park in Stratford or utilising one of the many stadiums in the capital be possible?

The Olympic site has been looked at before and it is believed that some other stadiums have been visited and looked at in recent years.

Agag’s dream of racing up The Mall or on Horse Guards Parade was always just that: a dream. Much more realistic is a stadium race using perimeter roads in early summer when premier league football teams are on the beach.

Or Formula E could take short-term pain and accept that its cars can’t stretch their legs at ExCeL but that it’s a fine plug-in-and-play venue, and so decide to build its legacy there by extending its contract with the arena beyond the summer of 2025.

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