The FIA Formula E Championship, despite only being in its sixth season, has already managed to race in some pretty impressive locations around the world. From bustling New York City to the beaches of Punta del Este, or even a race around the Moscow Kremlin, Formula E has been able to race where other series simply could not.
With its quieter electric powertrains, the championship is able to bring racing ‘to the fans’ through street circuits in big cities to help encourage the fight against climate change as well as offer unrivalled entertainment on four wheels.
As the championship grows, more and more cities are wanting to be involved and now a more recognisable calendar of events is being distinguished. Saudi Arabia reached an agreement to host the first race of the Formula E championship until the 2027/28 season, and with European cities like Rome, Paris, and Berlin all becoming popular fan-favourites, the mix of locations we visited in the first few seasons now seems a distant memory.
Looking back at some of the earlier rounds of the championship that only hosted a race or two, Inside Electric wanted to take a trip back and pick the races we would love to see Formula E return to in the future.
This location is one of the most common answers to the question, “where should Formula E race again?”. The Canadian city, which is the most populous in Québec, hosted one of the greatest events in Formula E history back in 2017 for its double-header season finale.
It was a race that gave us everything – Lucas di Grassi was crowned as the new drivers’ champion, we had a memorable Sebastien Buemi meltdown in the pitlane, and tonnes of excellent racing action. The races became instant classics but the opportunities for future Montreal E-Prix were cut short when a new Mayor to the city cancelled any future events for the all-electric series citing the ‘costs to the taxpayer’. A race around the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was mooted but nothing ever materialised..
The track proved to be both exciting and challenging to drive, with Formula E themselves being able to produce a six-minute crash compilation video from that weekend alone. Even the most experienced drivers on the grid like Buemi were caught out on parts of the circuit like the tricky bus stop chicane.
This huge shunt which occurred in free practice was not only one of the biggest impacts we’ve ever seen in Formula E, but it also likely cost Buemi the championship that weekend as the car needed to be rebuilt and was ultimately disqualified after the race for being underweight.
His championship rival di Grassi, who started the weekend 10 points adrift, managed to extract everything he could from those two races to come out on top and be crowned Formula E’s third drivers’ champion.
Formula E brought motor racing back to Switzerland in 2018 with the first official race of any kind being held in the country since 1954. The track, located in the heart of Zürich, was wonderful and the true epitome of a ‘street circuit’.
Hosted parallel to the city’s lake, it wound around the older parts of the city and even included tram lines across the track. The pitlane was also made from a temporary wooden structure and featured cobblestones which were most unusual.
The race itself was chaotic, with Mitch Evans trying to attain his and Jaguar’s first Formula E win after he secured pole position earlier in the day. The track offered great opportunities for overtaking and saw drivers like di Grassi take full advantage as he climbed up the grid from sixth to win the inaugural event.
A mid-race shunt from Mahindra’s Felix Rosenqvist meant a full course yellow was deployed to collect the debris which led to most of the front runners getting drive-through penalties for ‘overspeeding’ during the FCY. It made for nail-biting few laps and left Jean-Eric Vergne’s championship chances hanging in the balance.
Overall, a brilliant location for a race which makes it a great shame that Formula E looks uncertain to return there in the near future. It was reported after the event in Zürich, the city’s officials didn’t like the high congestion in the neighbourhood and the large crowds that gathered to watch the event. It was suggested that the event was attended by over 150,000 people which would make it one of the most popular E-Prix in Formula E’s history.
Formula E did return to Switzerland the following year with a race in the capital of Bern, so for now, we’ll just have to be content with watching replays of Zurich’s one and only appearance on the Formula E calendar.
Who doesn’t want to watch racing along the coasts of California? The famous Long Beach location which is home to a Grand Prix circuit often used for the IndyCar Series, hosted two Formula E races in the 2014/15 and 2015/16 seasons. Although Formula E races on a smaller version of the Grand Prix circuit, lots of the drivers still loved the track.
Long Beach was bigger and wider than a lot of circuits Formula E had been to before as it was a professional street circuit, not something that had been temporarily erected just for a Formula E weekend. The smoother surface of the track as well as the mix of fast chicanes and long straights which allowed for overtaking maneuvers proved popular.
Turn 1 was a big challenge which made for highly entertaining racing, as did the hairpin at Turn 7 which caught out several drivers. Although the track itself was only made of the seven turns and was quite box-like in its design, the racing produced some memorable moments and we’d love to see the track return with the faster, wider Gen2 cars.
The location of the race in California also made the events quite glamorous as they often attracted celebrity guests. Leonardo Di Caprio being one such attendee, as the American movie star has ties to Formula E as a shareholder with Venturi and also went on to produce the film ‘And We Go Green’ based around the championship.
This street circuit held in the Puerto Madero district of Buenos Aires hosted races in the first three seasons of the Formula E championship. Both races were held in the first and second seasons and provided excellent action on the track, cementing themselves as iconic races in the championship’s early history. It also became the only race on the calendar to have hosted a race each season by the end of the 2016/17 season.
For Buenos Aires’ first appearance, pole-sitter Buemi, as well as his rival di Grassi, both made rare mistakes during the race. Their incidents, as well as various other accidents and retirements during a chaotic race, handed Antonio Felix da Costa his maiden Formula E win.
The second race hosted at the circuit goes down as one of the best overtaking masterclasses of recent times. Buemi, who was contending for his first Formula E drivers’ title, started the race from the back of the grid. Throughout 35 laps he climbed from last on the grid to an incredible second place – just missing the win by +0.716s to Sam Bird.
The track itself featured a wide left-hand corner, in addition to a mix of hairpins and chicanes making it a demanding but rewarding circuit. Its location was close to the waterfront, nearby to a local nature reserve with most of the track being lined with trees.
Unfortunately, the race was dropped from the calendar for season three and Formula E hasn’t been back since.
Battersea Park, london
Although we are due to return to London for our season finale later this year at the ExCeL Arena (although that appears unlikely at the time of writing), the original London E-Prix took place in the picturesque setting of Battersea Park.
For those who attended the two events hosted there, you’ll know what an incredible track it was. Formula E used the roads that existed around the park to create a challenging circuit that was adored by drivers and fans alike. With the addition of some temporary chichanes and big sweeping corners, the track helped create excellent action and has been home to some of the best races in the championship’s history.
Despite welcoming large crowds for the season finales it hosted for the 2014/15 and 2015/16 season, time at Battersea Park was short lived and had its five year agreement cut short because of campaigners threatening legal action.
The park is Victorian, was built between 1854 and 1870 and is a London Grade II listed park. So, despite Formula E trying to keep everything as temporary as possible for when it hosted its races, many locals were unhappy with the park being used by the championship.
An agreement was met that Battersea Park would no longer be a host for Formula E and instead the championship would seek a more city-central location for the race.
Wandsworth Council, who were responsible for giving Formula E the necessary permissions to race there, made a statement in 2016 unveiling formal plans to invest £820,000 in Battersea Park “mainly as a direct benefit of staging Formula E at the park for two years”.