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Formula E renews Rome deal until 2025, continues to waive hosting fee

Formula E team driver, Switzerland's Sebastien Buemi during practice for the 2018 Rome E-prix (Filippo Monteforte/AFP via Getty Images)

Rome has renewed its hosting agreement with Formula E until 2025, with the electric series agreeing to underwrite all of the organisational costs for the race.

Formula E operates a hybrid hosting model under which it charges certain promoters and host cities an event sanctioning fee but is also prepared to waive this charge and carry all of the race costs in certain strategically important markets.

SportBusiness understands Rome will not pay a direct financial contribution to host the E-Prix because the race has assumed an important position in building Formula E audiences in Europe. The electric series’ Italian broadcast rights-holder Mediaset shows all races live on its Italia 1 channel while Italian audiences, famous for their knowledge of motorsport, have shown a strong appetite for the races.

City Council members signed the new agreement on Friday in spite of the temporary suspension of the current Formula E season because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This year’s Rome E-Prix was scheduled for April 4 but did not take place after Formula E and the FIA took the decision on March 13 to suspend racing for a two-month period.

Italy is one of the countries to be hit hard by the crisis and has introduced strict lockdown measures, including in its capital city.

Virginia Raggi, Mayor of Rome said: “Rome is once again a key reference for Formula E and remains a key attraction for big events. When we exit the health emergency, we will need to come back much stronger than ever before.”

“Our city is ready for this challenge and the Italian capital will be the symbol of the series until 2025. This agreement will bring many investments in urban areas and make our collaboration much stronger. This is a contract that will offer Romans many benefits, which will help with starting again. Our city is very proud to be hosting the E-Prix – a sporting event pioneering sustainable ideas and innovative technologies.”

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Rome has featured on the Formula E calendar since season four of the racing series (2017-18) and offers one of the longest circuits in the season.

Formula E favours city centre circuits which bring the sporting action to fans, and families in particular, and remove the requirement to travel out-of-town to watch a race. But this racing model also brings huge organisational challenges, as evidenced by the cancellation of the 2020 Hong Kong E-Prix, before the coronavirus pandemic took hold, because of demonstrations in the city.

Alejandro Agag, founder and chairman of Formula E said of the Rome renewal: “We are proud to announce such an important achievement and the start of a new long-term cooperation.

“We thank the Mayor of Rome Virginia Raggi and the whole administration for being able to make it happen. Italy is a strategic market for us, and we are determined to keep working with the country to grant a further growth of the championship, in terms of popularity and competitiveness.”

Formula E recently launched a 9-week esports series to overcome the lack of live races during the lockdown. The virtual series will feature all of its drivers and teams and the organisers will donate the proceeds from the new event to Unicef’s efforts to support children during the health crisis.