The FIA’s all-electric open wheel racing series is on the ropes for the 2019-20 season. Having started in November, the racers have already completed 5 rounds of the championship, but with Thursday’s announcement that all races in May and June have been indefinitely suspended, there are only two race weekends remaining on the schedule.
Back in January, we first reported on the Coronavirus threatening to cancel a round in China, but we had no way of knowing we’d be in this position just three months later. In the time since the Sanya ePrix was first in jeopardy, the series has pushed out races in Rome, Paris, Seoul, Jakarta, and Berlin.
The next race weekend on the calendar is New York City on July 11th, which for obvious reasons seems a bit more than inadvisable right now. The virus keeps spreading across New York, with the state reporting 8,400 new cases of covid-19 as of this writing today. The threat of spread doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon, and certainly won’t be in any position to hold a massive event like this by summer.
With New York out of the picture, the next viable option is the London race set for the weekend of July 25th. This one is a double header, which would get the series up to 7 races on the 2019-20 season. In order to be considered an FIA world championship, 8 races must be run.
If the season is closed with just the 5 rounds having been run, DS Techeetah’s António Félix da Costa would be the championship winner with 67 points over Jaguar’s Mitch Evans on 56 points. If this does happen, da Costa would be awarded the Formula E championship, but would not technically go down in history as an FIA World Champion.
In a statement made Thursday afternoon, Formula E had this to say:
July has now become a yellow flag month, with the opportunity to host events or reschedule races remaining open should the coronavirus situation stabilize.
We aim to return to racing as soon as possible, but our priority in all decision-making must be the health and safety of our staff and the entire Formula E community of teams, manufacturers, partners, drivers and fans, as well as the citizens and residents of the cities in which we race.
We are assessing all available options in order to finish the season with the highest number of races possible. This contingency planning continues to explore staging races behind closed doors, using permanent track facilities, introducing new double headers and extending the season beyond its original end date.
This season had so much promise with new additions from Mercedes-Benz and Porsche. The first five rounds featured an incredible mix of racing and saw five different winners. It was great to watch, and while I hope it does continue, I get less optimistic by the day.
Admittedly, the 2019-20 season does have a good bit of leeway to extend the championship out later into the year. While the last race of the season is currently scheduled for late July, the 2020-21 season is not scheduled to begin until at least November. Maybe the series can find somewhere to run a race without spectators later this year, but even this seems a tough ask from 2020.
I’ve already lost hope for the completion of the 2019-20 season. I’m not far off from losing hope for the 2020-21 season. My favorite racing series has been kneecapped for now. I hope it can rebound when we get to whatever the new normal will be.
In the meantime, allow me to be the first to congratulate Portugal’s António Félix da Costa on being the season 6 Formula E champ. You know, provisionally.