Mercedes boss James hopes FE avoids repeat of ‘challenging’ Season 6 finale
Ian James and Jean Todt © FIA Formula E
Ian James and Jean Todt © FIA Formula E

Mercedes boss James hopes FE avoids repeat of ‘challenging’ Season 6 finale

Mercedes EQ Formula E boss Ian James says a repeat of the six-race season finale forced upon teams last season is ‘not something any of us would like to see’ in 2021.

When the spread of COVID-19 accelerated throughout Europe and North America earlier this year, Formula E was left with little choice but to put its season on hold with seven major cities unable to stage races that had been scheduled for the summer.

A five month gap between races was the end result as Formula E made plans to complete its season with a hectic run of six races in nine days at the Berlin Tempelhof Circuit in August.

With COVID still a major concern for much of the world, Mercedes boss James says Formula E deserves praise for the way in which it handled the pandemic this year, but hopes a repeat of the calendar disruption can be avoided in the coming season.

“2020 and the end of Season 6 was a very unique situation. We were all faced with this challenge and really nobody knew the direction it was going to take,” said James.

“The work that everybody involved did in getting Berlin up and running deserves maximum credit. I think both FEO (Formula E Operations Limited) and the FIA did a phenomenal job in giving us an opportunity to finish Season 6 with a decent number of races.

“Having said that, it was a challenge for everybody involved in it and would I want to see a situation again where we ended up again with six races in such a short space of time? No, I think it’s not something any of us would like to see.”

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Formula E’s new season will commence in Santiago this coming January, however, races in Sanya and Mexico City scheduled for the spring have now been postponed indefinitely.

James believes Formula E has made a sensible decision in leaving a six week gap before the European races commence in April, as this leaves the series room to maneuver if further disruption becomes unavoidable.

“FEO are taking this pragmatic approach at the moment and breaking up the Season 7 calendar into various sections and choosing points on the calendar where we can then confirm the next section and how that’s going to be approached.

“They’ve been very open with the fact that we have to keep a close eye on how the pandemic progresses. At the end of the day, the safety of everyone involved and should we be in a position to have spectators at the races, the safety of those spectators is of paramount importance.

“I know that they’ll do everything in their power to make sure that’s very much at the forefront of the planning, so I think we’re going to have to wait and see.”

James confirmed that Formula E has communicated more than one strategy to the teams on how they’d handle further postponements and the Mercedes team principal believes we’re unlikely to see races condensed together in a similar fashion to what happened in Berlin.

“I know that there’s a Plan A, if you like, which [Formula E have] communicated and we know which cities and which venues we’re likely to race at next year,” said James.

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“Of course there’s also work going on in the background to think about a Plan B should it not be possible to race in the kind of city centre locations we’ve enjoyed in the past. None of that [plan] though goes in a similar direction to what we had in Berlin.”

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Written by
Rob Watts
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