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After five long years, Formula E is back in London.
The all-electric series has turned the ExCeL Centre in the Docklands into the firs-ever indoor-outdoor world championship circuit – and it will present a raft of big challenges for the drivers.
Changing conditions in different parts of the track, coupled with lighting alterations, will create one of the most dynamic race weekends in motorsport history.
Britain's Sam Bird tops the championship heading into the weekend and is one of seven Brits who will be taking to the track.
Here, we take a look at some of the things to watch out for at the ExCeL London this weekend…
There are seven British drivers on the circuit in Formula E this season
London makes its calling
It has been a long wait but the London E-Prix is finally back on the streets of the capital.
This year’s event will signal more than five years (1,847 days) since London last hosted top-flight international motorsport, with last year’s race postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Before that you would have to go back to 1972 at the now disused Crystal Palace Race Track.
In fact, this is the first major event taking place at the ExCeL London venue in the city’s docklands since the location was repurposed as a Nightingale Hospital and Vaccination Centre early on in the pandemic.
Previous winners of the London E-Prix include Nissan e.dams’ Sebastien Buemi, Nico Prost – son of four-time Formula 1 World Champion Alain – and Britain’s Sam Bird, the Jaguar Racing driver currently leading the World Championship.
The high-profile event has attracted the likes of Will.i.am, Sarah Ferguson, Sir Richard Branson, Luke Evans and former London Mayor and now Prime Minister Boris Johnson – the latter taking to the wheel of the Formula E car back in 2015.
Will you be watching the London E-Prix this weekend? Let us know in the comments section.
Racing is taking place at London's ExCel Centre
(Image: Andy Hone/Motorsport Images / SplashNews.com)
ExCeL to host world first indoor-outdoor motorsport track
Having raced at Battersea Park last time out, the emission free Gen2 cars now have an exciting new venue to call home at London’s Royal Docks and a bespoke indoor/outdoor circuit – a world first in international motorsport.
Designed by British architect Simon Gibbons, in cooperation with the FIA & Motorsport UK, the 1.39-mile circuit features 22-corners and two substantial elevation changes as drivers negotiate incline and decline ramps.
Another cool quirk is that from the air, part of the circuit – a double hairpin section around Turn 10 – also coincidentally maps out a large ‘e’ shape.
Seven British drivers set to take the wheel in London
There will be a strong British presence both when the cars line-up on the grid at the ExCeL London and in the garages supporting them.
Seven of the 24 drivers will be competing on home soil that weekend with Sam Bird, Jake Dennis, Alex Lynn, Alexander Sims, Oliver Turvey, Tom Blomqvist and Oliver Rowland all hoping to make it to the top-step of the podium.
Jaguar's Sam Bird sits inside the ExCel Centre as he analyses the circuit
Championship leader Bird won his home race in 2015 – one of only two drivers to have ever done so – with the 34-year-old Dorset-based driver also the only one to have recorded victories in every Formula E season to-date.
Meanwhile, two British teams – Jaguar Racing and Envision Virgin Racing – will also be on home turf for the event, whilst both Mahindra Racing and NIO 333 teams feature all-British driver line-ups.
Channel 4 announce free-to-air partnership
Formula E recently announced that the London double-header will be broadcast live on Channel 4 from 14:00 BST on Saturday 24 and 13:40 on Sunday 25 July.
Vernon Kay will front four hours of coverage over the weekend, with extensive build-up and post-race analysis, and both races will also be available via its on-demand streaming platform All4.
Kay, who has been a part of the Formula E presenting team since 2017, said: “There’s nothing that quite beats the atmosphere of your home race and with seven British drivers to cheer on, the UK fans are going to love tuning in for this amazing weekend of racing. Fans can be sure of close, unpredictable racing on what is set to be a spectacular and unique track.”
The racing is going to take place at London's ExCel Centre
(Image: Simon Galloway/Motorsport Images/REX/Shutterstock)
3000 spectators to cheer from the stands
Formula E Cities Development Director Oli McCrudden confirmed that the track at the ExCeL will hold up to 3000 spectators for each round of the London double-header.
Although only 10 per cent of the crowd originally expected to be hosted at the event, the majority of the spectators will be indoors – which should provide a unique experience for motorsport fans.
The feat is even more impressive when you consider it was just over a year ago the site was making plans to build the Nightingale Hospital in response to the coronavirus pandemic.