While flags and banners still adorn the streets of London for the Queen's Jubilee, the world’s electric racing elite is getting ready for some royal racing on the last weekend of July. That’s when the 2022 ABB FIA Formula E Championship returns to the UK capital. The double-header on 30-31 July promises nail-biting action: the ExCeL circuit features both indoor and outdoor sections, guaranteed to keep the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team on their toes – and all fans on the edge of their seats.
The distinctive ExCeL track was unveiled in 2021, as an alternative to the original Battersea Park circuit that was closed by residents after the 2016 fixture. Hard to believe that not everyone shares our love for the sport! But on the bright side, the current track takes the spectacle to a whole new level.
The first thing you’ll notice is, it runs right through the world-famous ExCeL Exhibition Centre, in East London’s Docklands. Considering the notoriously unreliable English weather, this is quite splendid for spectators; arguably, less so for drivers and cars. Switching from indoors to outdoors means instant, dramatic changes in driving conditions. Continuous fluctuations in lighting, track surface and weather markedly affect traction, braking and overall handling.
And that’s just for starters.
An exciting race poses more than one challenge for drivers and crew: the 2,141km track is narrow – providing precious few opportunities for overtaking. And did we mention, there are no run-off zones? So, drivers are locked into a white-knuckle contest right from the start, with literally no breathing room. For André Lotterer and Pascal Wehrlein, it will require absolute commitment and focus every microsecond of the way. Both men will be eager to beat their performances last year, where they peaked at P4 and P5 respectively.
The track layout has remained mostly the same since then: only T10 and T11 have changed significantly. Formerly a set of wicked double-hairpin bends, they have been contracted to create a hard-right, hard-left switch instead. While this somewhat tempers the hairpins, T10 still doubles back slightly on itself, making it the hardest-braking corner in the entire circuit. The only other change is that the loop previously between T16 and T18 has been bypassed, replaced by a smoother, faster U-bend at T16, that accommodates the crucial Attack Zone.
It may be one bend shorter now, but with 22 curves and turns to contend with, the ExCeL circuit is no less tricky – providing ample room for pure thrills in the stands as well as behind the screens. Throw in a tarmac surface that undulates to the extent that even jumps are possible and you know you’re in for an e-racing spectacle of note.
Be sure to join us at the ExCeL circuit for the 13th and 14th races on 30-31 July. While London celebrates a royal Jubilee Year, who knows what Formula E history will be made?