Written by Vyas Ponnuri
With pre-season testing for Season Ten of Formula E on the horizon, the World Motorsport Council (WMSC) recently announced the all-new calendar for the tenth installment of the all-electric racing series.
And it is certainly one that features a few tweaks, with late retentions, yet more new venues, and a tough dropping for a starring location from last season. In addition, one double-header is yet to be confirmed.
A quick look at the calendar tells a story: The same 16 rounds headline the calendar, as many as season nine, and commencing at Mexico City in January, and concluding in a double-header around London's ExCel Arena, the same case as the debut season of the Gen3 era.
Formula E kicks off its decennial season at Mexico City in January, at the famous Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, before making its sole trip to the Middle East, the familiar Diriyah street circuit, for the first double-header of the season.
The teams will then return to Hyderabad for the second running of the event, after a largely successful inaugural edition of the event. Hyderabad proved to be a late confirmation onto the schedule for 2024, after late concerns arose over the event's continuity.
A month's break then ensues before the Formula E caravan heads to South America for the second running of another event, the Sao Paulo E Prix, before venturing into the Land of the Rising Sun for the first time, taking to the streets of Tokyo for the inaugural Tokyo E Prix.
A two-week break brings Formula E onto European soil for the first time, the first of the European races set to take place in an Italian double-header in mid-April. Although, no location has been confirmed yet, when the calendar was released.
The Crown Jewel then follows, as the series then heads to the stunning locales of Monaco once again, for the Monaco E Prix in late-April. Another staple on the Formula E calendar rounds out the quintet of European races, as the series heads to the familiarity of the Tempelhof Street Circuit, for the Berlin E Prix in mid-May.
Formula E then flies to China for the first time since the 2018-19 season, the centre of action being the Shanghai International Circuit this time. The all-electric racing series previously raced around the streets of China's port city Sanya.
Another month-long break then ensues, before Formula E returns to the starring Portland International Raceway once again, after a largely successful run on a road course in 2023. The event will be the penultimate weekend of Season Ten.
The Union Jack will once again play host to the finale of the season, a double-header, at that, around a track that is quickly becoming a familiar destination for Formula E.
So then, with the calendar broken down, let's look at some major takeaways from the 2024 calendar, with additions and omissions outlining the next few points:
Formula E expands further into Asia, ventures into Japan and China
Two major powers of the world enter (or return, as is the case for China) the Formula E calendar for Season Ten: Japan and China
The confirmation of a Japanese round on season ten's calendar came through even before season nine reached its conclusion, being confirmed as soon as late June. Plans had already been in place to bring Tokyo onto the calendar in 2024.
Initially slated to take place around the waterfront, the track could be situated around the Big Sight Convention Centre, set to be 3 km (1.8 mi) long. Although, an official track layout hasn't been revealed yet.
Formula E will only add to Japan's wealth of motor racing history, the country known for hosting Formula One at Suzuka every year, formerly hosting races at Fuji, a track that now hosts a round of the WEC championship. Elsewhere, MotoGP takes place around the Motegi circuit.
Two famous racing series take place solely on Japanese soil every year, Super GT for sports cars, and Super Formula for single-seaters, the latter regularly seeing Formula 2 graduates take part.
Coming to the Chinese double-header on the calendar, the popular Shanghai International Circuit has been pencilled in as the location for the event. The track has been famous for hosting Formula One between 2005 and 2019, before dropping off the calendar due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and resulting government restrictions.
Formula E last raced in China in the 2018-19 season, in the southernmost town on the Hainan Island, Sanya. The port city held only a single race, in the 2018-19 season. Beijing is a famous location in Formula E's books, having hosted the first-ever Formula E race back in 2014, before hosting another race a year later. Formula E also raced in Hong Kong four times between seasons two and five.
The addition of China to the calendar adds another interesting dynamic to the calendar, as it will be exciting to witness the Gen3 cars race around a modified layout of another permanent road course.
Hyderabad Remains on the Calendar After Late Intervention
Hyderabad was a location that was initially not on the provisional calendar published by Formula E for 2024. It was indeed a surprise to see the event initially not marked out as a host city for 2024, given the immense economic and sporting success of the event.
The Hyderabad E Prix attracted a sell-out crowd of 31,000 in its debut outing in February. The event also created an economic impact of $84 Million to the Hyderabad economy, based on reports.
However, despite its success, the chances of hosting a second running of the event dwindled further, when the organising team at Greenko, the official sponsors of the event, was disbanded in August.
Yet, a ray of hope emerged, in the form of an intervention by the local Telangana government, in an attempt to keep the event running on the banks of the Hussain Sagar lake.
Alberto Longo, co-founder and Chief Championship Officer, Formula E, expressed his gratitude to the Telangana Government for stepping in at the eleventh hour, amidst excitement to race in China:
“Without doubt our Season 10 calendar is the most compelling yet for drivers, teams, fans and viewers around the world. We are taking Formula E to Shanghai for the first time and are honoured to return to India thanks to the support of the Telangana Government and Minister K. T. Rama Rao. The combination of street circuits, which is in Formula E’s DNA, and established race tracks will allow drivers to push the capabilities of the GEN3 car harder and further after a first season that beat all expectations with triple-digit overtakes in most races and the world championship titles decided on the final weekend."
This announcement also marks the first instance of Formula E racing in three of its biggest markets: India, China, and the USA, with Portland and Hyderabad continuing to extend support to host Formula E for another season.
Cape Town and Jakarta Dropped
While three of 2023's debut events stay on the calendar, the Cape Town E Prix will be a major miss from the calendar, despite an extremely successful maiden outing for the event.
Set in the backdrop of the Signal Hill, with the coast also in the vicinity, the Cape Town E Prix circuit was the location of the fastest lap in Formula E's history, when Nissan's Sacha Fenestraz's lap time hit an average speed of 154.987 km/h. The following day also played host to an enthralling race, which witnessed a spectacular overtake from Porsche's Antonio Felix Da Costa for the race victory.
The race was also voted by the fans as the best race of the 2023 Formula E season, in a poll organised by Formula E after the season concluded.
The Cape Town E Prix also attracted a sell-out crowd, and resulted in an economic impact of R1 Billion to the Cape Town economy. Despite the acclaim and impact of the event, organisers were cautiously optimistic of the event returning to the calendar.
Despite Cape Town being a last-minute addition to the calendar for season nine, a potential five-year contract was also in the works, which didn't come into fruition. The event becomes the latest casualty of motorsport in the region, with the Intercontinental GT Challenge at Kyalami too given a miss for 2024.
Iain Banner, Chairman of Formula E Cape Town, expressed optimism over a return to the calendar in 2025:
“Building on the phenomenal success of this year’s event, we plan to surprise and delight South Africans when we do it again in 2025. We wish all the teams a fantastic season as they bring the Formula E fever to China, India, and the US. As a local promoter, we’re on a drive for 2025”.
Likewise, the Jakarta E Prix slated for 8th June, 2024, has also been cancelled, following the Indonesian presidential elections set to coincide with the timing of the event. With rigorous campaigning on the streets of the Indonesian capital, it would be logistically difficult to stage the event at the same time. The event organisers are also looking to host the race on an alternative date.
The Italian question: Who will host a Race on Italian Soil?
The provisional calendar for 2024 had inserted a double-header scheduled for April 13th and 14th around the streets of Rome, continuing the tradition for the series as per the years gone by.
However, this was before Formula E's Gen3 cars took to the Rome Street Circuit. And as it would seem, the general consensus of the weekend would be the fact that the newer, more powerful Gen3 machinery proved to be too quick for the narrow, sharp turns of the Rome Business District.
In addition, the street circuit's bumpy characteristics were also responsible for a multi-car pile-up at turn six, caused by Sam Bird hitting a bump at the high-speed left-hander.
Following conclusions from reviews undertaken by experts from Formula E as well as the FIA, Rome will not be hosting a race in Season Ten, despite initial confirmation on the Formula E calendar.
Alternatives to the historic city include the famous Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, the scene of MotoGP's yearly Italian race, and the famous Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola, scene of Formula One's Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix. The Autodromo Vallelunga Piero Taruffi, better known as Vallelunga, is also in the fray to replace Rome.
Formula E has recognised Italy as a key market, and are working on finding an alternative host for the event at the earliest.
All in all, Season Ten is set to be another thrilling year of racing in the Gen3 era, and races can once again be expected to witness overtakes in triple-digit figures. Do tune in for pre-season testing at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, Valencia, from October 24th to 27th, and Season Ten, which gets underway at Mexico City on Saturday, January 13th.
What is your take on the calendar for Season Ten? Do let us know in the comments below.