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Zurich Formula E race confirmed, Switzerland’s first since 1955 motorsport ban

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Switzerland will host its first circuit race in over 60 years when Formula E hits the streets of Zurich next June.

Switzerland banned circuit racing and most motorsport activities in 1955 following the Le Mans disaster in the same year, only for a relaxation of the law two years ago to open the door for a Formula E race to be held.

Swiss racer Simona de Silvestro took part in a special showrun through the streets of Geneva in a Formula E in 2015, with the all-electric series pushing to get a race on the calendar.

Following the latest meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Paris, a race in Zurich was approved for June 10, 2018, acting as the fourth new city on the season four calendar.

“I am very pleased that circuit racing is returning to Switzerland next year with the FIA Formula E Championship event in Zurich,” FIA president Jean Todt said.

“To be able to reintroduce this discipline to a country where it has been absent since it was banned in 1955 is an exciting prospect and the achievement of an important goal for the FIA.

“I would like to congratulate everyone involved in making it a reality, as it is important for us to continue to bring motor sport to new audiences around the world.

“Together with the other new events on the calendar in Santiago, Sao Paulo and Rome, I believe we have a very strong season of Formula E ahead of us.”

Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag added: “The calendar for next season is shaping up to be one of the most exciting yet with four new venues – including Zurich. I’m thrilled that Formula E is bringing racing back to Switzerland for the first time in over 60 years.

“This wouldn’t have been possible without the core fundamentals of Formula E – driving the electric revolution and sustainable mobility. Following the recent law changes this race was also made possible with the instrumental support of our Swiss partner, Julius Baer.

“I would like to express our gratitude to their CEO, Boris Collardi, and his entire team for their continued belief in Formula E – we’ve again been able to break new grounds in the world of motorsport.”

The schedule also features inaugural events in Santiago, Sao Paulo and Rome, and will once again conclude in Montreal, Canada at the end of July.

The only other change to the calendar is the shift by one week of the New York City ePrix date, moving to the July 14-15 weekend.

2017/18 FIA Formula E Calendar

1. Hong Kong – December 2
2. Hong Kong – December 3
3. Marrakesh – January 13
4. Santiago – February 3
5. Mexico City – March 3
6. Sao Paulo – March 17
7. Rome – April 14
8. Paris – April 28
9. Berlin – May 19
10. Zurich – June 10
11. New York – July 14
12. New York – July 15
13. Montreal – July 28
14. Montreal – July 29

Jaguar signs Nelson Piquet Jr. for Formula E season four

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Jaguar Racing has confirmed the signing of Nelson Piquet Jr. for the fourth FIA Formula E season, partnering Mitch Evans.

Piquet was crowned Formula E’s inaugural champion back in 2015 with Team China Racing, which evolved into NextEV from season two onwards.

Continual struggles caused Piquet to question his future with the team, leading to a deal being struck with Jaguar for season four as it looked to replace Adam Carroll.

Jaguar returned to the international motorsport scene in 2016 by entering Formula E, with Evans leading its charge by scoring 22 of its 27 points as it finished at the foot of the teams’ championship.

Now aiming to move up the field thanks to more time to prepare and plan for season four, the arrival of Piquet looks set to bolster Jaguar’s hopes thanks to his experience and success in Formula E.

“It’s a great honour to join Panasonic Jaguar Racing. Jaguar has such a strong history in motorsport and it’s an exciting time to become part of the team,” Piquet said.

“Their commitment to electric motorsport is inspiring and I’m looking forward to working with the team.”

Jaguar team boss James Barclay added: “We are hugely excited to have Nelson on board for season four. Mitch was one of the outstanding rookies of the season with some great qualifying and race performances.

“With our new driver line-up we are aiming to be a strong challenger on the grid, regularly competing for points. We have taken a lot of learnings from season three and the team have been working extremely hard throughout the off-season, focusing on the design and development of the new Jaguar I-TYPE 2.”

The new Formula E season kicks off in Hong Kong on December 2.

Rosenqvist, Heidfeld retained by Mahindra for Formula E season four

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Mahindra Racing will enter the new FIA Formula E season with an unchanged driver line-up after confirming Felix Rosenqvist and Nick Heidfeld in race seats on Wednesday.

Mahindra charged to third place in the teams’ championship in the 2016/17 campaign, taking its maiden victory with Rosenqvist in Berlin and nine further podium finishes.

The team had long been expected to run with an unchanged line-up for the 2017/18 season, with confirmation arriving two weeks before pre-season testing begins in Valencia, Spain.

“We’re thrilled that both Nick and Felix will remain with Mahindra Racing next season,” team boss Dilbagh Gill said.

“With them, we’re confident that our new race car, the M4Electro will prove to be our strongest yet and Mahindra will consistently be fighting at the front of the field for wins and championships.”

“I am proud to be part of Mahindra Racing where we have been going from strength to strength in Formula E,” added Heidfeld.

“It’s exactly where I want to be and I am delighted to extend my contract and commitment to target even more success. I am thrilled and can’t wait to compete in my M4-Electro in this ever-improving championship.”

Rosenqvist finished season three as Formula E’s top rookie, and despite links with an IndyCar drive after a successful test at Mid-Ohio over the summer, the Swede is relishing the chance to continue his development in the series.

“I’m thrilled to be back for a second season in Formula E and to extend my relationship with Mahindra Racing That was our mutual intention from the very beginning, and we’ve already completed a series of promising tests with the M4Electro in recent months,” Rosenqvist said.

“Moving into season four, I will draw on everything I learned in 2016-17 to try and lift us to the next level. It will be a massive challenge with stiff competition, but we have a solid foundation and are all fully committed to taking the fight to the very best.”

Formula E’s fourth season kicks off in Hong Kong on December 2.

Lucas di Grassi named new CEO of Roborace

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FIA Formula E champion Lucas di Grassi has been named the new CEO of Roborace, the autonomous electric driving platform.

Roborace was unveiled in November 2015 as a new project to advance autonomous vehicle technology in conjunction with Formula E, the world’s first all-electric single-seater championship.

A series of tests have taken place with a modified Ginetta LMP3 chassis, dubbed a ‘DevBot’, at Formula E events through season three, with the futuristic-looking ‘Robocar’ set to appear at season four events.

Di Grassi was named as Roborace’s new CEO at the Frankfurt Motor Show earlier this week, expanding his business interests outside of his racing career.

“We want to take Roborace where motorsport cannot go, focusing the platform on future road-relevant autonomous technology. The future of mobility is autonomous, that’s an industry consensus now,” di Grassi said.

“In the same way, I believe that motorsport is about the driver, who is the best human being behind the wheel. I want to develop the Roborace series to be complimentary to traditional motorsport, and not to replace it.

“We invite the OEMs, suppliers, technology companies and universities to use our platform to showcase their technology and intellectual capacity in driverless systems. With the technology evolving so fast we must remain flexible on the events, races and challenges we are promoting.”

Di Grassi takes over as CEO from Roborace founder Denis Sverdlov, who will move into an advisory role in order to focus on other projects.

Formula E to launch Jaguar I-PACE support series from season five

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Formula E will add a new support series to its race weekends from season five featuring the new all-electric Jaguar I-PACE road car.

Formula E has grown rapidly since launching in 2014, and will feature a more substantial undercard from the start of its fifth season in the winter of 2018.

The Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY will boast a 20-car grid, with drivers being offered ‘arrive and drive’ packages for 10 Formula E race weekends.

“With the launch of the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY we have strengthened our commitment to battery electric vehicles, international motorsport and Formula E,” Gerd Mäuser, Chairman, Jaguar Racing, said.

“As a British team, we are proud to announce today the launch of the world’s first production battery electric vehicle championship.

“We’ve always said we want to prove our electrification technologies on the track – this is the proof. I am looking forward to seeing a full grid of Jaguar I-PACE racecars in late 2018, soon after the first Jaguar I-PACE hits the road in Europe.

“Formula E has grown exponentially since we joined as the first premium manufacturer last year, with commitments from Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche. The Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY will improve the spectacle for the fans and gives young drivers a ladder into Formula E.

“We expect our series to be a sell-out and an exciting international sporting event.”

Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag added: “Jaguar has been a welcome addition to Formula E and a fantastic advocate for electric street racing.

“I’m delighted that in addition to the Panasonic Jaguar Racing team competing on the Formula E grid, we will be adding to our race day schedule with a competitive new support series for season five.

“The Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY will bring more entertainment for fans in-between sessions and will be a further testament to the advances in battery technology and exciting electric performance.

“I hope Jaguar will allow me to bring my race suit and helmet… and maybe get behind the wheel myself!”