Formula E and the FIA have announced today that the suspension of the 2019/2020 FIA Formula E Championship season will be extended by two months with the decision causing the postponement of the Berlin E-Prix.
Due to the strict containment measures that have been put in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus, Formula E has been heavily affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The Sanya E-Prix was the first race in the international motorsport world to be called off after China where the coronavirus originated implemented a set of travel restrictions.
When the COVID-19 continued to spread across Europe, further rounds were postponed. Among those races were the Rome, Paris, Seoul and Jakarta events. On March 13, the championship announced a temporary suspension of the season from March to May in response to the coronavirus.
At the same time, the organizers also introduced a flag-based system to determine the status of each race. A red flag representing that no races will happen, a yellow flag indicating a time window to potentially restart racing and a green flag meaning we are ready to race again.
By extending the shutdown period, the red flags have been applied to the months of May and June, meaning the Berlin E-Prix can no longer take place as originally planned on June 21.
“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,” read the Formula E announcement.
Race behind closed doors?
Formula E Founder and Chairman Alejandro Agag explained before the announcement that the series is still aiming to hold another five or six races this season in which only five races have been staged so far. After the postponements, only two rounds have kept their original place on the calendar – the New York Ciry E-Prix and the London E-Prix with the latter set to host a double-header.
"For us, it would be great if we can finish the season with more races. That's the objective. Will we be able to? We don't know. Right now, it seems that probably or maybe yes.”
"We may be able to get going in July, in August, in September. So we have those months to organize races. I think another five or six races in Europe or in one of those places [Jakarta or Seoul] is our objective and anything is achievable at this point,” Agag is quoted as saying by Autosport.
The London E-Prix, set to make its comeback after a four-year hiatus, is scheduled to take place in the Excel Centre. With the location currently being used as a temporary hospital, it is uncertain when it will be transformed back, enabling to host a motorsport event. According to the series CEO Jamie Reigle, Formula E has already worked on plans to reschedule the London E-Prix or switch it to an alternative location.