While American racing series pushed forward with returns to on-track action over a month ago as this country’s coronavirus numbers continued to worsen, European series have been a bit more apprehensive to jump back in. Where NASCAR has been racing twice a week for a month, travelling throughout the Southeast, Formula E remains in stasis. On Wednesday the global electric open wheel series announced its plan to hold six races to end the 2019-20 season. It’ll happen in August with all six races at the same venue over a nine-day period.
The racing will go down in Berlin at the closed-for-business Tempelhof with three different race course layouts hosting a double-header each. August 5-6, 8-9 and 12-13 will be the dates for those races, held without fans or even grandstands in place. As per German rules, to limit contact transfer of the virus, only 1000 personnel will be allowed on-site for the event, and each FE team will be limited to 20 staff total, including the drivers.
The series will test each of the 1000 people prior to the event, and everyone will be re-tested every single day. That adds up to an impressive 10,000 tests! Obviously the hope is that nobody will get sick, but if they do test positive they can be isolated and removed from the herd in quick succession.
That’s an ambitious plan for the series, which completed fiverounds of this season prior to lockdown for the global pandemic, and would bring the season six race total to 11 races, down from the initially planned 13.
In the pre-lockdown races the series saw five different winners from five races, meaning the points standings are incredibly close. The current points leader is Techeetah’s Antonio Felix da Costa on 67 points, just 11 points clear of Jaguar’s Mitch Evans. With these six races remaining and each win paying out 25 points, even drivers with no points yet are still mathematically eligible for the championship. There’s everything to play for at the moment.
While it’s obviously important that Formula E get its championship decided, it’s interesting the lengths that the series is willing to go to make that happen. Thankfully it has decided against travelling all over the world to finish Season Six out. Given the choices, this is possibly the safest way that FE could make it happen. It’s taking minimal risks, testing vigorously, travelling minimally, limiting contact between teams and drivers, and blocking out as many people as possible.
All of this is happening in a country that has largely managed to contain and reduce spread of the virus to a minimum. Germany was once a hot zone for the covid-19 virus, and has since reduced daily new cases to under 500 and daily deaths to single digit numbers. To put that in perspective, all of Germany saw less than a quarter as many new cases as Florida yesterday despite having a population roughly four times as large.
Personally, I look forward to seeing this six-race whirlwind go down in real time. Formula E continues to be my favorite racing series right now, and this relatively safe move to finish out the season only helps that case. Let’s GO!