Written by Vyas Ponnuri
After a hat trick of exciting races at new venues, Formula E returns to trademark fixture on the calendar. Yes, this track is none other than the Tempelhof Street Circuit, situated amidst the Tempelhof airport in Berlin. The German capital has hosted at least a race every year since the inaugural season of Formula E in 2014.
The Tempelhof Street Circuit is also known for having hosted six races in nine days during the covid-hit 2020 Formula E season, as the pandemic affected Formula E action between February and June. The races were grouped as three double-headers, each double-header hosting races on different configurations of the circuit (the normal layout, the reverse layout, and a revised layout with changes between turns five and six, as well as a new section between turns eight and 14).
The current configuration of the circuit used since 2017 is an anti-clockwise 2.375 km (1.475 mi) long street circuit, around the Tempelhof airport. The airport is one of the oldest in Berlin, and was shut down in 2008, now used for other purposes, including hosting the Berlin E Prix.
The lap starts along the slightly angled start-finish straight, the straight curving ever-so slightly to the left to kick off the lap. The “straight” leads into a 270-degree left hander, one that tests the patience of the drivers. This turn is followed by tricky right handers of turns two and three, leading into a section of the track under an indoor tunnel. As drivers emerge from the tunnel, they are met with a left hander, followed by a quick sweep to the right leading onto the back straight.
This straight leads into a wide left-hander of turn six, the biggest overtaking opportunity on the track. Drivers have the opportunity to take multiple lines into the corner, leading to battles along the next section of the circuit, two quick sweeps to the left and right. The attack mode is also along the outside of turn six, and drivers tend to rejoin onto the racing line, leading to battles along the next stretch of track. The right hand hairpin of turn nine is an unorthodox overtaking zone, yet it is possible to make a move, should battles carry on till turn nine. Another short straight leads to the final corner, the left-hander of turn 10, onto the main straight, and back towards the line.
The Tempelhof Street Circuit is also the only one that sees cars run on a concrete surface, rather than the usual tarmac surface for other Formula E locations.
With the tight nature of the circuit, as well as a number of overtaking opportunities, the circuit has played host to many thrilling races over the years. 2020 saw six races being held on as many as three different layouts, providing thrilling racing action across nine days. The success of the races held on the reversed layout of the track meant the layout was used for the second race of double headers in the following Berlin E Prix. This practice is set to continue into the Gen3 era, with the eighth round of the season to be held on the reverse layout on 23rd April. The title deciding weekend of the 2021 season saw two thrilling races held at the circuit, with Nyck de Vries eventually coming out on top after chaos prevailed in the early stages of the deciding race.
However, the prior races held at the track were from the previous Gen2 era, and the grid heads into the unknown, the first race at this track in the Gen3 era. As such, teams will be looking to make full use of the first practice session on Friday, as well as subsequent sessions on Saturday and Sunday, to prepare for both races on different track layouts.
And if anything is to be expected from the weekend, do expect it to be another action-packed weekend, continuing the trend for this season. Last race at São Paulo, the first E Prix to be held in Brazil, lived up to all expectations, being a thriller from lights to flag. Mitch Evans won out in a tight finish, defending from Nick Cassidy, with Sam Bird making it an all-Jaguar podium. Porsche’s Pascal Wehrlein still leads the standings by 24 points, whopping by Formula E standards, from Andretti driver Jake Dennis, despite the pair having underwhelming races across the previous three rounds.
With multiple winners across the season, and unpredictability reigning supreme, any driver from the top ten can reign supreme across the Berlin double header. Do make sure to tune in for the weekend’s action, free practice 1 kicking off the weekend at 17:00 local time (15:00 UTC). What are your predictions for this weekend? Do let us know in the comments section below.