Montreal cancellation: Why FE's big weakness is a necessary evil

Formula E must often overcome problems to race in iconic cities, but sometimes faces hurdles too big to clear - witness the collapse of the 2017/18 season finale in Montreal

Montreal cancellation: Why FE's big weakness is a necessary evil

The Canadian city is the second race to be lost this season, after Sao Paulo was postponed to 2018/19 and replaced by Punta del Este.

They join Buenos Aires, Brussels, London, Moscow and Miami as cities dropped due to political problems of some ilk.

However, the 2017/18 FE schedule still includes new races in Santiago de Chile, Rome and Zurich, as well as returns to Hong Kong, Paris, Berlin (albeit still forced off city streets) and New York.

That's probably why series CEO Alejandro Agag says the coming and going of races is "not the end of the world".

"This is our life," he told Autosport at the start of December. "We race in cities and cities are like living entities.

"It's not like a track that you can rent for 10 years and you know you have the date. Cities change.

"This is what we do. We go, we talk to the city, we see what the best solution is, we try to be practical, we try to help."

FE seemed to genuinely try to help Montreal. After an inconclusive meeting last week, it is understood FE personnel thought they had until just before mid-January to find an alternative to the 2016/17 location and keep the race in the city.

New Montreal mayor Valerie Plante pushed for a postponement ahead of a 2019 return, something FE considered unacceptable. This led to what FE called a "unilateral" decision from Plante to break the agreement for 2018, and a brewing legal storm to work out the consequences (with the promoter already owing FE millions in unpaid bills).

FE's response to the "surprising" cancellation must be to try and keep the schedule at 11 events, either with a race elsewhere in Canada - Toronto has been mooted as the IndyCar race takes place two weeks before the planned FE finale - or in another country altogether.

Such instability does not reflect well on the series externally, and creates internal tensions too: places like Sao Paulo and Montreal are valuable for manufacturers, Punta del Este and 'no race' less so.

But life as a city-centre race series is about compromises, not perfect, dream scenarios.

The races that do come off take the manufacturers to the heart of major world cities, and FE can boast victories like bringing motorsport back to Switzerland after a 64-year absence.

"It is important to get stability in the calendar," Audi motorsport boss Dieter Gass told Autosport in Hong Kong. "We shouldn't have these movements once the season has started.

"Having said that, if I have to prioritise between running in the capitals of the world and having a stable calendar, I would prefer running in capitals.

"I don't think FE is made for running on normal tracks. It needs to be in the centre of the city."

shares
comments
Montreal cancels planned 2017/18 Formula E season finale
Previous article

Montreal cancels planned 2017/18 Formula E season finale

Next article

Rossiter, Porsche's Makowiecki get Techeetah FE Marrakech test drives

Rossiter, Porsche's Makowiecki get Techeetah FE Marrakech test drives
Load comments
The sharing mentality that transformed the fortunes of two Formula E teams Plus

The sharing mentality that transformed the fortunes of two Formula E teams

Electing not to share data with its competitive customer team would have been a straightforward means of gaining an edge on at least one of Mercedes' Formula E rivals last season. But by reciprocating the relationship forged under its initial HWA guise, when it was a customer to Venturi, both teams have reaped the rewards

Formula E
Nov 30, 2021
How Mercedes's Formula E squad replicated the F1 team's best trait Plus

How Mercedes's Formula E squad replicated the F1 team's best trait

With its ultra-successful sister team in Formula 1 and a support network providing some of the best minds and resources in the business, Mercedes Formula E team principal Ian James knew his squad had all the winning ingredients. But mixing it together was no easy feat and required key attributes to be grown from within

Formula E
Nov 29, 2021
How Formula E's polarising newcomer can prove himself Plus

How Formula E's polarising newcomer can prove himself

OPINION: Few figures in racing today divide opinion like Dan Ticktum. The Formula 2 race-winner now has the chance to wipe his professional slate clean with his move into Formula E, but it won't be easy at the squad which has brought up the rear for the past three years. Here are the three key criteria he must meet to make a lasting impression on the series

Formula E
Nov 27, 2021
How Mercedes pulled off a silent coup in Formula E Plus

How Mercedes pulled off a silent coup in Formula E

By virtue of its Formula 1 success, Mercedes was expected to rise to power in Formula E before long. That it won both the drivers' and manufacturers' championships this year, after only two seasons as a full works effort, belies a tricky path littered with potential pitfalls

Formula E
Nov 26, 2021
Why electric racing cars should be four-wheel drive Plus

Why electric racing cars should be four-wheel drive

OPINION: Circuit racing has traditionally favoured front- or rear-wheel-drive setups, eschewing the equal distribution of power. But for Formula E and other electric-powered series, our columnist believes it’s a perfect fit

Formula E
Oct 13, 2021
How motorsport's most prominent power couple found joint success Plus

How motorsport's most prominent power couple found joint success

The Wolffs have carved their own paths in motorsport, leading their respective teams to success in Formula 1 and Formula E. But the two came together last month as their drivers finished first and second in the FE drivers' championship - a feat they are hugely proud of. In a rare joint interview, they reflect on a remarkable season

Formula E
Sep 21, 2021
The top 10 Formula E drivers of 2020-21 Plus

The top 10 Formula E drivers of 2020-21

OPINION: The 2021 Formula E campaign was one without a narrative for much of the season, with no single car or driver able to break away from the pack. That makes choosing a top 10 especially difficult, particularly as the qualifying format meant some worthy performers were unable to enjoy their day in the sun

Formula E
Sep 19, 2021
How Mercedes and De Vries achieved Formula E glory the hard way Plus

How Mercedes and De Vries achieved Formula E glory the hard way

When Nyck de Vries dominated the first race of what would be the most controversial and unpredictable Formula E season to date, it looked as though Mercedes was in for a cakewalk. But as the campaign wore on, the path to a title double became increasingly rocky. Neither driver or team would be assured of the crown until the closing stages of the very final race on a weekend of struggle in Berlin

Formula E
Sep 17, 2021