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Formula E seeks ‘five or six races’ to end season

Antonio Felix da Costa leads at the start of Formula E's 2020 race in Marrakech, Morocco (by ABB FIA Formula E/Handout/Getty Images)

The Formula E electric car-racing series is seeking to end its 2019-20 season with five or six races, with founder and chairman, Alejandro Agag, stating that behind closed doors events would not seriously impact on its business model.

Having completed five races as part of four events, Formula E, together with the International Automobile Federation (FIA), last month moved to temporarily suspend its season for two months due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Three further events are currently scheduled – Berlin (June 21), New York (July 11) and the double-header season finale in London (July 25-26) – but two of these are in question. The hub for London’s race, the Excel Exhibition Centre, is currently being utilised as a Covid-19 field hospital, with Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, part of the New York site, also being used in a similar capacity.

Concerning the planning for the remainder of the season, Agag told the Autosport website: “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 organise 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.”

The Jakarta and Seoul races involve the payment of race fees. When asked whether this aspect would mean they are prioritised on a revamped calendar, Agag said: “If we’re going to go to Jakarta and Seoul, that’s more complicated. We want to and we may try to.

“Particularly Seoul would be really very important because the number of (Covid-19) cases there has dropped a lot. But the question is, is everybody going to be allowed to fly there and come back no problem with quarantines and so on and so forth? It will depend very much on the situation at the moment with permissions.”

Agag highlighted the fact that planning may be made easier as Formula E’s business model does not rely on revenue from ticket sales. He said: “The big advantage of our model is that we don’t depend on ticketing revenue so we can have races without (the) public. We are kind of flexible, we can go to places with no public and maybe that’s what we will do. I think we’re in an OK position.”

In September 2019, Agag revealed that Formula E would exceed revenues of €200m ($217.3m) when it lodged its accounts for the 2018-19 period and report a profit for the first time since its launch in 2014. Having reported operating losses of €26.4m and €20.8m in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 periods respectively, Formula E announced that it would return a positive figure.

Formula E yesterday (Wednesday) launched a nine-week esports competition featuring all of its drivers and teams and will donate the proceeds from the new event to Unicef’s efforts to support children during the Covid-19 crisis.

Regarding the organisation’s overall financial health, chief executive Jamie Reigle told Reuters: “I fundamentally believe that Formula E’s proposition is sound for the medium term. There’s a trend toward electric vehicles, consumers want them, there’s regulatory pressure for auto manufacturers to shift towards electric vehicles.

“With people stopping moving around, the pollution levels have come right down… it’s really demonstrated that human activity has a direct impact on the climate and not just in the long term but the very short term.

“We think that lends credibility to our story. So the business model for Formula E is sound. There’s no doubt we face headwinds though. I don’t want to sugar coat that in any way.”