Montreal ePrix

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Prost stresses importance of keeping Formula E on city streets

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MONTREAL, Canada – Four-time Formula 1 world champion and Renault Formula E team chief Alain Prost has moved to clarify comments regarding this weekend’s event in Montreal, stressing the importance of it taking place on the streets of the city instead of a permanent circuit.

The all-electric Formula E championship visits Montreal for the first time this weekend, with a course being created using the city streets instead of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve that hosts Formula 1 race annually.

The Montreal ePrix acts as the season finale for Formula E’s third campaign, with Prost’s Renault e.dams operation in contention for both championships.

Formula E has enjoyed a strong ethos of racing on city streets instead of typical race circuits in a bid to promote electric vehicles and technology in the areas they are most needed for the future.

Reports in the Canadian press earlier this week claimed that Prost had said Formula E should have used the F1 track, but the Frenchman has moved to counter these comments and stress the importance of racing on inner-city street courses.

“I’ve never said that we should have gone to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, even if I love this place and I love the circuit. I think it is not adapted to the kind of race that we are doing at the moment,” Prost told NBC Sports.

“Obviously it’s too long and we need a shorter track, but most importantly we need the concept that we have from the beginning, supported by the FIA, that we want to be in the center of the cities. That is very important and I really support that.

“From the beginning that we heard about the project and we met the mayor two or three times, we were very happy and very positive to be in Montreal because we know the place, we know the fans that they love motor racing, and that will be something very different.

“We obviously give credibility to the electrical technology. We bring new people to watch the race. Maybe they are not interested by another sort of motor racing.

“We need a younger generation, maybe some children, they can see what is the car and technology for the future. So I’m very positive about that.

“I feel a bit sorry that I could be in the middle of a polemic. We want to be here for racing and we want to win the championship and celebrate in one of the best cities in the world.”

Buemi’s FE points lead intact despite New York no-show

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RED HOOK, NY – Sebastien Buemi will head into the final double-header round of the third FIA Formula E season with his points lead intact despite missing last weekend’s races in New York City.

Defending Formula E champion Buemi was forced to skip the inaugural New York City ePrix due to his clashing commitments with Toyota’s LMP1 team in the FIA World Endurance Championship at the Nürburgring.

Despite late attempts from Buemi and his Renault e.dams team to try and take some part in the New York weekend, Toyota refused to budge, giving title rival Lucas di Grassi two races to try and cut down the 32-point gap.

Di Grassi struggled through qualifying, starting P10 on Saturday and P9 on Sunday, but was able to battle back through to fourth and fifth in the respective races.

Leaving New York with a haul of 22 points, di Grassi sits 10 back from Buemi in the drivers’ championship with two races remaining, but the Brazilian nevertheless feels good about his chances.

“I think 22 points, I’m not disappointed with it. We have to improve a lot if we want to win in Montreal,” di Grassi said.

“I feel more confident than ever. With the experience that I have with Formula E, you know that it can go from hell to heaven any weekend, any race. We just have to do our best, try and win both races and see how it goes.

“It will be difficult, but nevertheless, we’re going to try very hard. The championship is in my hands. If I win both races, I am champion – no mathematics to be done. To win both races, that’s the aim. Let’s see how it goes.”

Buemi’s race at the Nürburgring seemed to be over before it had begun when he suffered a fuel pump issue on the formation lap, forcing Toyota into a lengthy repair of its TS050 Hybrid car.

Alongside Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima, Buemi was able to battle his way back to fourth place, trailing the three other LMP1 hybrids.

FIA confirms track layout for Montreal Formula E race

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The FIA has confirmed the street course layout that will be used in Montreal for next July’s Formula E race.

Montreal will become the first Canadian city to host a Formula E race on the July 29-30 weekend, acting as the final round of the all-electric racing championship’s third season.

A street course has been formed close to Downtown Montreal, comprising 14 corners and running to a length of 1.71 miles.

“Formula E wants to bring fully-electric racing to the streets of the world’s leading cities and Montreal is another fantastic new addition to the calendar,” Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag said.

“Montreal is a great city with a great vibe – the perfect place to conclude the third season of Formula E. I’m sure the drivers will revel in the opportunity to fight for the title against the backdrop of Montreal.”

“I’m very pleased that Montreal is now among the host cities for Formula E,” Mayor of Montreal Denis Coderre added.

“In Montreal, we wish to promote transportation electrification. This race, which speaks to this wish, will be conducted on an urban circuit and will be a festive family event where everyone will be able to admire the prowess of electric vehicles.

“It will give us, in 2017, at the climax of the celebrations for the 375th anniversary of Montreal, the opportunity to demonstrate that high performance can go hand-in-hand with sustainable development.”

Tickets for the Montreal ePrix will be on sale from December 3.

New York, Montreal switch dates on revised Formula E calendar

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The planned Formula E races in New York City and Montreal have swapped dates on a revised calendar for the all-electric series’ third season issued by the FIA on Wednesday.

On the first calendar issued by Formula E over the London ePrix weekend in July, Montreal was slated for July 15-16 with New York set on July 29-30.

The New York race was officially launched last week, but no date was set amid ongoing discussions regarding its best placement.

Following a meeting of the World Motor Sport Council this week, a revised calendar for season three has been revealed with New York moving to the July 15-16 weekend.

Montreal now becomes the season finale on July 29-30, with both races remaining double headers and subject to the track being homologated.

The calendar also sees the removal of the two ‘TBA’ rounds, understood to be Singapore and London, leaving a 12-race calendar set for season three.

The new campaign starts in Hong Kong on October 9.

2016/17 Formula E calendar

1. Hong Kong – October 9
2. Marrakesh – November 12
3. Buenos Aires – February 18
4. Mexico City – April 1
5. Monaco – May 13
6. Paris – May 20
7. Berlin – June 10
8. Brussels – July 1
9. New York – July 15
10. New York – July 16
11. Montreal – July 29
12. Montreal – July 30

July 2017 remains a question mark for North American Formula E dates

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NEW YORK – Next July 2017 figures to be an interesting time in the motorsport calendar given that two new FIA Formula E Championship cities are joining the calendar, the FIA World Endurance Championship returns to action following the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June and given that this year, the FIA Formula 1 World Championship had four Grands Prix.

Given the high crossover of FIA WEC drivers into Formula E – roughly half the FE grid is comprised of FIA WEC drivers – it behooves the two series not to clash. FE, as it stands, has three races in July – July 1 in Brussels before the double dip of North American rounds. In season one, Miami and Long Beach ran both in the U.S., but several weeks apart. The same was true this year with Mexico City and Long Beach.

At the moment, though, there is a clash with the Nürburgring FIA WEC race on July 16, same date as the second of two races for the new Montreal ePrix, July 15-16.

According to FIA President Jean Todt, who was in attendance at today’s formal New York City ePrix launch at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, clashes are inevitable.

“I would not call that a conflict,” Todt told NBC Sports this afternoon. “Clearly, there are 52 weeks in the year… and a number of categories of motor racing for the FIA. There is Formula 1, Formula E, (World) endurance, touring car championship, rally, rallycross, Moto Grand Prix, which indirectly linked to FIA… it’s just touching the same kind of crowd. We do have to find the best compromise.”

ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport ace Lucas di Grassi, who was on hand for the event as well, expressed the concern over the date clash as it stands because it would affect any and all drivers who compete in both championships.

“Right now, it’s a bad clash for us,” the Brazilian told NBC Sports. “There’s about half of the grid, 10 drivers, so it’s bad with WEC and FE.

“They’ll do the best to avoid it; but if it happens, sooner or later it will happen. Formula E is growing so much. I think for WEC, there’s only 9 weekends per year. For sure there are ways to avoid this clash.”

It was interesting to note today that when the New York City ePrix was formally and officially launched that a specific date was missing, rather than confirmed as July 29-30 as it was originally listed on the calendar back when the season three schedule came out at the season two finale in Battersea Park.

That lack of confirmation on the date is by design, per Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag, because there are a lot of moving parts to make a New York City ePrix work.

“We’ll be working with the city very soon on the exact date,” Agag told NBC Sports. “We are working on two or three different weekends in July, from mid-July onwards, so there’s different circumstances we have to sort out. There’s cruise liners, the other races… NASCAR races in the vicinity, which are an important element for the local federation (of note, a Loudon, New Hampshire NASCAR weekend occurs July 14-16). We’ll come up with a date that’s good for the city.”

Agag expanded on it in a separate interview after the end of the formal program.

“The FIA is pretty flexible and pretty helpful. We have to figure out how to put together the restrictions in terms of use of this space because of (cruise) ships, with the other races of NASCAR… ACCUS is very protective of NASCAR dates,” he explained.

“It’s a bit of a puzzle with moving parts. We have one or two options that are pretty good and finalize with the city, then it will be done.”

Montreal, as noted, tentatively slated for July 15-16, and New York are unlikely to feature on back-to-back weeks since both are new events.

“I think they could be back-to-back in season four… but I wouldn’t risk it in season three, because they are both new races,” Agag he said.

“I think both are new and we may find an unexpected obstacle to sort out, and then we’ll make it.”

Dates for all of the above three races mentioned should become clearer following the next meeting of the World Motor Sport Council on Sept. 28, next week, where provisional FIA calendars should come out.

For what it’s worth, the Verizon IndyCar Series has races scheduled on both the Montreal and New York weekends, which would give Andretti Autosport a foothold on both sites at the same time. Montreal is tentatively on the same weekend as IndyCar’s lone Canadian trip of the year in Toronto, while the tentative New York date is on the same weekend as IndyCar’s voyage to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.