Since its first race in 2014, Formula E has been known for breaking the mold and doing things a little differently – and that’s true of track design. The early part of the current campaign saw new stops in Hyderabad (India) and Cape Town (South Africa), with Sao Paulo in Brazil being the third new track in a record calendar.
For Season 10, Formula E heads to the heart of Tokyo, Japan to mark the first time the city has hosted a world championship motorsport event. The challenging 18-turn, 2.582km street circuit will circle the Tokyo International Exhibition Center – Japan’s largest venue also known as the Tokyo Big Sight – just minutes from downtown Tokyo.
How to choose a Formula E road circuit?
Unlike other circuit-based championships, most of the tracks visited by Formula E are temporary rather than permanent race tracks, built in the heart of some of the world’s leading cities and built and homologated on the eve of the event thanks to a closing. collaboration between the FIA, Formula E, the National Sporting Authority (ASN) and the local sponsor.
CALENDAR: Where Formula E is scheduled to race in Season 10
The process of joining the series usually starts about 18 months before the planned race, when an expression of interest from a representative of the Host City is registered with the sponsor of the Formula E championship.
Oli McCrudden is Formula E’s City Development Director in charge of city relations for this initial phase. “It’s just like dating. Both sides have a clear idea of what they want the future to look like, but first of all they need to make sure they are with someone who shares the same vision. It requires open communication, collaboration, understanding and compromise. All the qualities that are important for a successful personal relationship really apply on a large scale in our world and lay the foundations for a strong, fruitful partnership.
What is the process of designing and building a Formula E race track from start to finish?
A track designer was appointed to draft a proposal for the circuit, which was then evaluated by Formula E through a feasibility study – taking into account the preconditions set out in Appendix O of the International Sporting Code of the FIA, the level of the civil work required and the installation of the main structures. Contracts are exchanged when all deliverables are clearly understood.
Nine months before the event, ASN sent a formal request for homologation to the FIA Safety Department, which in turn appointed an FIA Circuit Inspector and conducted simulations based on the drawing provided by the designer to validate the various aspects of circuit safety – from obstacles. to run-off areas – while suggesting any necessary changes.
The FIA Circuits Commission – an organization made up of circuit safety experts from ASNs around the world – further evaluates the document produced by the Safety Department, and with four months left until the shutdown , the official FIA Circuit Inspector, FIA experts and Formula E staff visit the site to approve the circuit layout and all peripheral structures, including the locations of the pit garages, race control and the medical center.
The next step is to define the event safety plan together with the local ASN, calculating the number of marshals and firefighters needed for potential recovery situations. The FIA Technical Department then conducts simulations with the latest circuit layout about a month and a half before the E-Prix to determine the length of the race; if there are not enough braking zones for energy regeneration, additional changes may be requested.
Once the final layout of all the parties has been confirmed, the FIA Sporting Department shares it – a month before the event – with the championship teams, who then start their own preparations in the simulator and have the opportunity to report any significant concerns.
How to build and safely sign a street circuit in the FIA World Championship?
Two weeks before the race and managed by Formula E, the construction of the track begins, with FIA experts participating in the final phase to sign off on the circuit’s safety features and effect any last-minute practical changes, such as adding safety barriers, changing efficiency. vehicle access.
On the Thursday morning of the race weekend, a track walk was held with all the relevant stakeholders – the FIA Race Director, Safety Car Driver, Sporting Delegate and e-Safety Delegate as well as the circuit builders and Formula E staff – to ensure everything. familiar with the layout and allowing any 11th-time corrections.
The following day, FIA Circuit Inspector Scot Elkins – who also fulfills the role of FIA Formula E Race Director – confirmed that the track was built according to the final reference plan approved in principle by the FIA’s Circuits Commission. He made a complete inspection report and, if all the criteria were met, asked for the release of the circuit license – signed by the President of the FIA - ahead of the Shakedown. Action tracking may occur.
A few months later, a track review group – made up of members of the FIA, Formula E and three driver representatives – met to discuss potential improvements to the circuit for future editions.
“Formula E is unique in the world of motor sport in that it races mostly on temporary inner-city tracks,” Elkins acknowledged. “That requires a completely different approach to track construction and approval, all of which takes place in a short period of time.
“During that time, a lot needs to be done to ensure that the circuit in question is above all safe and built in accordance with the general standards expected of an FIA World Championship. Throughout the process, the FIA is working with Formula E as both the local sponsor and ASN, and the success of the new new races in Hyderabad and Cape Town proves the effectiveness and efficiency of close collaboration.”