Templehopft Airport, Berlin
Season Six of ABB FIA Formula E racing was thrown into shambles earlier this year with the global lockdown due to COVID-19.
Racing continued in a virtual eRacing format, but those results will not form part of the championship results table. Even so, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) and Audi Sport Abt Schlaefer took the races very seriously as discovered by veteran German driver Daniel Abt, who was first fined by FIA and then suspended by the Audi team for faking it, ie: allowing a ringer gamer to race on his behalf (sim racer Lorenz Hoerzing.)
Abt's FE career is now over despite him previously competing in every Formula E race to date. To some, it seems too big a punishment considering the eRaces were just for fun. Audi continues the season with just one driver on the team: Brazilian, Lucas di Grassi.
Daniel Abt, Suspended for cheating during eSports race. image: Yahoo Sports
Formula E announced today that the season will continue from August with FIA approving six live races over nine days at Templehopf Airport in Berlin.
The historic German airfield has been chosen to close out the current season, hosting three double-headers in quick succession on August 5/6, 8/9 and 12/13. Each pair of races will use a different track configuration, presenting opportunities for distinct strategies and the conditions for Formula E’s unpredictable and exciting racing.
"The festival will feature three track layouts, presenting a new challenge and creating the conditions for an unpredictable and drama-filled climax to our season. The team at Formula E has been working incredibly hard over the past weeks to enable us to go racing again in Berlin. I’d like to thank the FIA, our manufacturers, teams and partners for their continued support, the city of Berlin for their cooperation and flexibility and our fans for their patience," says Formula E CEO, Jamie Reigle.
Track configurations and race start times will be revealed in due course on official Formula E digital platforms.
Before the season was suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak, FE had already completed five races with DS TECHEETAH driver Antonio Felix da Costa (Portugal) topping the standings, but only 11 points clear of nearest rival Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s Mitch Evans (New Zealand). In fact the top-four drivers in the championship are separated by fewer points than a single race win offers, so it’s still all to play for when the racing recommences in Berlin.
HOW WILL IT WORK
"We have emphasised a revised calendar which places the health and safety of our community first, represents Formula E’s distinct brand of city-centre racing and offers an exciting conclusion to the compelling season of racing we had seen so far," says Formula E CEO, Jamie Reigle.
Formula E and the FIA have been working in close consultation with teams and local authorities to define a robust plan to conclude the championship in a safe manner. To mitigate risk, Formula E is implementing strict safety measures including racing behind closed doors with only essential staff and competitors travelling to the event.
As per German government guidelines, there will be a maximum number of 1,000 people on site at any given time, including local suppliers and medical crews. All other operations will be carried out remotely.
Key health and safety protocol includes mandatory coronavirus testing prior to the races, as well as on-site screening every day upon arrival at the track. Formula E will also actively enforce the use of face masks, social distancing and limit movement across workspaces with clearly defined zones for different event populations.
Although it is disappointing to miss out on the indoor/outdoor finale originally planned for London, this revised plan at least allows the season to continue, and should please fans and drivers alike to be going back to the much-loved venue in Berlin.
Dates to mark in calendar: August 5/6, 8/9 and 12/13.
[Rachelle Tilsley - Better NZ Trust - 18 June 2020]