Formula E

Why the timing is perfect for a radical London E-Prix return

Four years on from the last time London played host to a Formula E race, the UK capital will return to the calendar to host the 2019/20 season finale in a radical fashion.

FE has not been a series to follow convention, but it will be one of the first major categories to hold a race in a convention centre, with the new-look London E-Prix to be held on a partially-indoor circuit which will weave around the Royal Victoria Dock and through the ExCeL London building.

Formula E London track map

Image credit: ABB FIA Formula E Championship


The Likelihood of London

The London Grand Prix has been somewhat of a pipe dream for a while now. After all, the idea of a race on the streets of the capital seems highly unlikely and while the cinematic videos show a magnificent spectacle, the proposed circuit seems just the slightest bit impractical, to say the least! However, David Cameron announced yesterday that new legislation will allow motor racing on public roads to take place in the future, which does open up the potential for a London Grand Prix to be held. The pipe-dream is now just that little bit closer to reality, but is still surly nothing more than a distant vision.

Ready for Formula E

While the legislation does open up the opportunity for a London Grand Prix, it seems that this law has been passed with Formula E in mind instead of Formula One. The all-electric series is planning a race in Battersea Park next summer, but without this new legislation, this event could not be held. Hence, it seems to be more of a coincidence that the new law would allow a London street race, as Cameron has not alluded to such an event.
Despite this, the government’s support for the motorsport industry was evident during the announcement. Cameron stated; “I can announce today that we are going to enable more road races for GB motor sport. We think this will be really useful to British motor sport: more races, more events, more money coming into the country and more success for this extraordinary industry.” Its certainly a positive that the government are recognising the industry as an important one – lets not forget that eight of the 11 Formula One teams are based in the UK, so it is somewhat of an expectation.
However, the fact that the announcement came during a visit to Williams’ factory at Grove was perhaps another contributory factor to stimulating the rumours and speculation as to London. If we take a moment to consider the logistical issues, its unlikely that the Greater London Assembly would agree to a race. Firstly, hosting a Grand Prix would mean shutting down the centre of London for at least four days – the likelihood is that anything up to a week would be needed for preparation and then the eventual de-rigging of the circuit furniture. While the event would potentially stimulate investment in London, this would surly not compensate for the costs of the race, both to the commercial rights holder and the money lost due to the shut-down of industries. It is far easier for Singapore and Monaco to close the streets as the location of the races are not at the economic heart of the country. A London Grand Prix would cause more disruption than it would be worth.
Therefore, there is certainly not an imminent announcement of a London Grand Prix, and I doubt there will ever be. Its an intriguing vision and while it would be interesting to see happen, its probably better off in our imaginations. Let’s just be glad that we have Silverstone for now!