Formula E is one of those racing series that actually kicked off its season before the COVID-19 pandemic postponed the meat of its mid-season races. So, in response, FE rescheduled its entire European stretch in a span of nine days at a single track. And their plan for it kind of rules.
Every race series around the world has sorted out a different rescheduling plan, but FE’s is perfect in that “last ditch effort to get this championship over” kind of way. It should have been wrapped up last month, because the series designs its seasons in such a way that some races this season took place in 2019 while the rest were supposed to take place in 2020.
For FE, it didn’t make sense to try to revisit all the tracks that had initially been on the calendar. The whole purpose of FE is, after all, to host races in the middle of the city and draw fans. If the fans can’t come, why not just schedule all the races in one place?
But instead of just racing six races on the same track, Formula E decided to switch it up.
Races 6 and 7, which took place in the middle of last week (August 5 and 6), were run backwards around the usual Tempelhof Airport Street Circuit used by FE in Berlin. Races 8 and 9 (on August 8 and 9) will be run in the regular counter-clockwise direction.
Rounds 10 and 11 (August 11 and 12) are on a completely new circuit. Yes, it still takes place on the Tempelhof surface, but the middle section of the track has added corners to make things more challenging and more technical. So, instead of the usual 10 corners, there will be 16.
It’s a great idea. FE is all about efficiency, and what’s more efficient than wrapping up your championship in a stretch of exciting races that all take place in the same confined area while still utilizing different track configurations?
I’m thinking about IndyCar here as we see Formula E’s scheduling work out well. The American open-wheel series is aiming for 14 races at least this season, but even the rescheduled calendar has been marred with cancelled and postponed races as a result of both civil unrest and local COVID-19 spikes. IndyCar has tried to compensate by turning some of the remaining races into doubleheaders, but it’s still pretty likely that we’re going to see further schedule changes before the end of the season.
Why not adopt the Formula E method? If it hits the end of the season and IndyCar still has races to make up, why not find a fitting track, isolate all the drivers in a local bubble, and run a handful of doubleheaders on different track layouts? Ever since IMSA announced it will be running races at the Charlotte ROVAL, I’ve been dreaming about an IndyCar event there. Two oval races and two ROVAL races, and boom: there’s your Astor Cup right there.
Hard times bring ingenuity, and Formula E has probably come up with the best solution to condensing motorsport schedules.