The latest COVID-19 vaccine news has bought optimism to those responsible for planning the Formula E calendar for the 2020/21 season.
The season is set to begin with a double-header event at the O’Higgins Parkland track in Santiago, Chile next month.
That’s one of only two events that have so far been confirmed from the original calendar which was ratified by the FIA last June, along with the Diriyah night races in February, while the Mexico City and Sanya rounds originally scheduled for February and March have been postponed.
Formula E Operations Ltd, in consultation with the FIA, recently implemented a tiered system for the scheduled races in which it would issue updates on tranches of races depending on the very latest situations regarding the pandemic and how it affected host territories.
This was designed to deliberately hold off the specific planning of E-Prixs to see how many personnel, guests, media or possibly fans could attend the events.
It works from one to five, with one being a totally closed and strictly health protocoled event such as the Berlin Tempelhof races in August, through to five. Races in the fifth tier would be a normal race as run in previous seasons.
Alberto Longo, Co-Founder, Deputy CEO and Chief Championship Officer at Formula E has told The Race that the season-opening race in Santiago has recently improved its status in regard to how the event will run.
“If we go to Santiago, Chile today, I know I can have ‘X’ number of VIP guests, ‘X’ number of media, etc,” he said.
“So in Santiago, for example, to give you an example, we are going from phase three to phase four now.”
Longo explained that although the confidence was returning for events in 2021 he also gave some caution about localised and national further waves of COVID-19 outbreaks that could affect the make-up of how individual events are run.
“Everything is improving but also some places they’re expecting the second wave, they’re expecting the third wave depending who and where you talk with,” he said.
“Is that going to change the scope of the event? Yes, I think totally, that’s why we have decided to put this window of decisions and basically postpone those decisions in order to get as close as possible to the event so then we don’t need to change the scope of the event.”
“So even Santiago, which is in six week’s time, we have a permit now to do an event in one way. But eventually, three weeks after, they can call me and say ‘unfortunately, you have to reduce the number of people coming.'”
This uncertainty until close to the event is causing major disruption for the organisation, strategising and marketing activations for all of the stakeholders in the championship.
The track build at O’Higgins Park begins on December 21, although some asphalt work is being carried this week. The races will take place over the weekend of January 16/17.