Swiss Formula E race facing financial difficulties

The organisers of this year’s Swiss E-Prix have fallen into financial difficulties, blaming vandalism by protestors ahead of the race in June for creating unforeseen costs.

Swiss E-Prix Operations AG, the promoter of the Formula E race, confirmed it had defaulted on payments but denied reports that it owed millions of dollars to creditors.

“This is a mid-six-figure amount that cannot be fully paid due to the current liquidity situation,” spokesman Stephan Oehen told the Keystone-SDA news agency. Oehen said the organisers had not defaulted on any payments to the city of Bern, which is also a creditor.

The race promotor said vandalism by protestors ahead of the race caused CHF400,000 (€364,000/$405,000) worth of damage. Thousands of demonstrators congregated on bicycles the day before the race to protest against the event, tearing down advertising banners and cutting television and power cables.

The promoter said it had also had to spend more than planned on security to protect itself from further damage and had filed a lawsuit related to the vandalism.

There is no Swiss E-Prix scheduled on the Formula E calendar for the forthcoming season, although Formula E is understood to be keen to host further races in the country. The electric car series enjoys the support of several Swiss sponsors, including industrial automation company ABB and Swiss bank Julius Baer, while four Swiss drivers are scheduled to compete in the 2019-20 season.

The first Swiss E-Prix took place in Zurich in the 2017-2018 Formula E season, followed by the Bern event this year. The Zurich race was the first time Switzerland had hosted a motorsport circuit race since 1954. Circuit motor racing was banned in the country following the 1955 Le Mans disaster in which 83 spectators were killed.