The Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia is set to be used by the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship this spring as a replacement race if further events are postponed or cancelled.
The Race can reveal that senior Formula E track overlay and sporting staff spent time during the recent pre-season test researching a potential circuit to be used for a substitute event.
Both Formula E Operations and FIA staff completed extensive track walks and have identified a track which has since been formally scoped out by FEO’s senior track and overlay manager Agus Delicado Zomeno on further visits to the facility.
Both he and sporting director Frederic Espinos were joined by FIA race director Scot Elkins to look at a suitable FE race configuration at the test.
Zomeno has been an instrumental element in the vast majority of Formula E track designs since the championship’s formation in 2014, when he joined FEO after gaining an engineering degree from Valencia University.
He is known to have visited the Valencia track since the test ended last month to continue in-depth feasibility studies on the proposed circuit outline.
Formula E’s deputy CEO and co-founder Alberto Longo confirmed to The Race this week that Valencia was an official substitute venue in case some events are unable to run due to the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Valencia has always been a plan for us, obviously as a plan B,” said Longo.
“We are still very focused on racing in the heart of the cities, but as a plan B and taking into consideration the situation that we’re in at the moment Valencia has always been an amazing place for us.
“They have always treated us very well and bringing a lot of flexibility in terms of dates.
“So definitely it is a very clear option for us and if it is to happen it will be communicated in two or three weeks.”
The Ricardo Tormo track is available on both the Rome and Paris races’ originally scheduled dates of April 10-11 and 24-25 respectively.
It is believed that either of these weekends are the most likely dates for a first ever Formula E race in Spain.
The Race understands that the track configuration that is being worked on will somehow bypass the entirety of the main straight and reconfigure corner radiuses to create a track never before used at the facility.
An announcement on the next races to follow the Diriyah openers next month is expected before the end of January.
Drivers back Valencia race plans
The Valencia circuit has often been derided for being an unsuitable track for Formula E cars during test sessions.
Several versions have been used since Formula E first went to the Spanish MotoGP venue in 2017.
The most recent 1.67-mile configuration featured the deletion of two temporary chicanes on the long main straight that were used in both 2018 and 2019 and contributed to several accidents.
The Race gauged several opinions from drivers in the championship this week after it became clear that Valencia was being lined-up as a replacement venue for an E-Prix this spring.
“It’s not an ideal situation to have to run there but on a more positive note, they’ve got a slight blank canvas at Valencia,” said NIO333’s Tom Blomqvist.
“It’s important, in my opinion, to keep an element of that ‘Formula E-esque’ feel, with the kerbs and so on, and I think they’ve got the scope to do that.
“Changing the radiuses on some of the corners a little bit could be looked at maybe, and I think they’ll have to look at the [main] straight as it’s not going to be fun with the current layout and the amount of energy saving required, which is quite high.”
Audi driver Lucas di Grassi has raced in every Formula E event held so far and has previously been a consultant to an informal track advisory group along with Oliver Rowland and Jerome d’Ambrosio.
Although not so far part of the initial phase of talks on the proposed potential Valencia E-Prix track, di Grassi believes that a reconfigured 2021 calendar is inevitable for the whole campaign.
“I think the situation this year is going to be a tricky one again for events in general and there will be many restrictions and many difficulties to host events all the way through, at least until July,” he told The Race.
“Formula E has the best capacity to make decisions which are effective for us to finish a championship.
“I don’t think the best solution is to do six races in one place like we did last year [at Tempelhof].
“That was a one off, but we will face difficulties to get the races done this year, so it’s going to be again a kind of adapted championship.”
Formula E newcomer Sergio Sette Camara also gave his backing to a proposed Valencia E-Prix, telling The Race that racing in a safe environment should be the top priority.
“These are special times and of course, it’s much easier to install safety protocols and so on in a closed environment, such as Berlin or a Valencia,” said the Dragon Penske Autosport driver.
“Of course, I’d prefer to be racing on the original Formula E tracks, but it’s much better to go racing in a normal race circuit than to not go racing at all.”