The FIA Formula E season is looking like it’s been left for dead in 2020. While the series started racing back in November and has already completed its first five rounds, the remaining nine rounds of the series have been cancelled or postponed. Without running eight full rounds of the championship, it will not be eligible as an FIA World Championship this year. The last three rounds, which were to be held in New York City on July 11th and a double-header in London later in July, were officially called off on Friday afternoon.
The London Docklands venue where the race was to be held has been repurposed into an NHS hospital with 4,000 additional beds to care for covid-19 patients. Formula E organizers were in talks with the ePrix runners to find an alternative venue or to delay, but according to motorsport.com it has instead been cancelled outright.
While it has seen a decline in the number of daily coronavirus-related deaths, New York City remains the epicenter of the global virus. As such, it would not be a wise idea to dump a bunch of racers and their crews from all over the world into a hot zone. While it has not yet been confirmed by Formula E, reports indicate the New York City ePrix has also been cancelled. Formula E’s calendar no longer includes the round, and has classified July as a “Yellow Flag Month”, while May and June have been given a red flag classification.
Formula E is still in talks with permanent circuits like Silverstone, Brands Hatch, and Donnington to host a closed-doors ePrix in the UK. FE also wants to run a central-Europe race, potentially with a closed-doors run at Tempelhof Airport in Berlin. The Seoul ePrix was scheduled for May 3rd before it was officially postponed, but South Korea has only confirmed 10,774 cases of coronavirus and 248 deaths. If the country is willing to allow a travelling circus into their borders, it’s possible it could be done safely. Maybe.
Formula E is desperate to get three more rounds—and by extension FIA World Championship status—before the end of the 2019-20 season, possibly with another double-header worked in. The 2020-21 season is not scheduled to begin until November, so it’s possible they could squeeze a couple more rounds in there late in the year if it is safe to do so, particularly without spectators.
Unlike NASCAR, Formula E seems to be exercising the correct amount of caution for the safety of its drivers and teams. If it can be done safely, great. If, on the other hand, it is rushed into prematurely, it would certainly be preferable that the series simply write off this season as a loss, and hand the non-FIA World Championship trophy to António Félix da Costa, the current points leader.