Formula E has finally committed to running its traditional pre-season group test at Valencia next month.
The move to host the test at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo comes after weeks of serious deliberation on how FE will begin its seventh season amid the chaos triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As reported by The Race yesterday, the four-day test is now scheduled to begin on Saturday, November 28 and run through until Wednesday, December 2, with one day allocated to media collation on Monday, November 30.
Initial plans had identified Donington Park as the most likely venue to host the pre-season test but teams are believed to have preferred the more temperate climate of Valencia for more relevant preparations.
Despite a significant second wave of the pandemic resulting in recent lockdowns in some Spanish cities, including the capital Madrid, teams and suppliers have been notified that the test will go ahead.
Previous Formula E group tests, which are run by promoter Formula E Holdings, have been held over four days but only three days of have been allocated this year.
The confirmation of next month’s Valencia test means that the race freight for the first round of the 2020/21 season at Santiago in January is now likely to leave on schedule in the first week of December direct from Valencia.
The circuit is scheduled to host the final two rounds of the 2020 MotoGP schedule just before the Formula E test.
At present plans are to let fans attend these races, but no details on protocols or planned numbers have yet been given by organisers.
It is thought likely that the Formula E test will be conducted behind closed doors. Last October the 2019/20 pre-season preparations were also not accessible to spectators but previous similar events at Donington Park in 2014 and 2015, and also the first test at Valencia in 2017, did allow spectators.
Nissan e.dams’ managing director Francois Sicard told The Race yesterday that organisationally, teams were working to the end of November date for the group test and then planning to see off race freight shortly after for the scheduled first race in Chile on 16 January.
“What we are doing now is preparing as if we were doing the test and then straightaway we are flying [freight] to Santiago,” Sicard said.
“The equipment and cars are being readied for the end of November, so we don’t expect to have the cars back in between the pre-season test and the first race, and we are considering to do as we were doing in previous seasons, meaning that straight after the collective test everybody will send freight directly.”
The timing of the test could be a blow to new Envision Virgin driver Nick Cassidy due to a clashing commitment.
Sam Bird’s replacement at the team is scheduled to be racing at Fuji Speedway over the weekend of 28-29 November in the last round of this season’s Japanese Super GT series.
Cassidy is unlikely to get significant testing mileage with his new Formula E team prior to the start of the season but should he remain in contention for this year’s Super GT crown it could mean he goes in to his first campaign severely underprepared.
Currently, the Kiwi sits third in the standings with TOM’s team-mate Ryo Hirakawa but just five points from the early-season leaders – Koudai Tsukakoshi and Bertrand Baguette.