Formula E could debut in Singapore next year
Formula E cars could zip along downtown Singapore next year
It has sparkled under the bright lights of the Singapore skyline, and the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix has now become one of the races to see and be seen at.
The first night race of the F1 World Championships, the Grand Prix along downtown Singapore offers glitz, glamour, entertainment and sporting action blended into a heady concoction that the world has lapped up for eight years.
The Marina Bay circuit will welcome Formula 1 race cars for the ninth time this September, but come April next year the whizz of the electric engines of Formula E (FE) vehicles could take centre stage.
Launched in 2014, FE is a motor racing championship featuring fully electric-powered engines. It functions on a similar points system to its F1 counterpart, but with unique factors, mostly due to its electric engine (see box).
FE's 2016/2017 season will flag off in Hong Kong this November.
A Singapore ePrix was pencilled in for April 22 in the provisional FE calendar that was expected to be ratified last Friday, at the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) meeting in Turin.
But various issues stemming from a "lack of clarity" have delayed the confirmation of the calendar, with more questions being raised, even about the future of the Formula 1 race in Singapore.
Responding to queries from The New Paper after the conclusion of the WMSC meeting, FE said that the calendar will "contain some exciting new venues which further demonstrates the ambition of the series to race in the heart of the world's leading cities", but declined to reveal details of its attempt to bring Singapore on board.
The statement continued: "Formula E Operations - working closely together with the FIA, local promoters and city authorities - are still in the process of finalising contractual terms with one of the cities on the provisional calendar for the 2016/17 season."
No date was given for the release of FE's final calendar for its third season.
The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) played a key role in bringing the F1 to Singapore.
Speaking to TNP before the WMSC meeting, STB's sports director, Jean Ng, said: "We are aware that Singapore is included in the provisional Formula E calendar for the 2016/2017 season but we have not received any proposals.
"However, we welcome events that add vibrancy to our sporting landscape while building on Singapore's reputation as a lifestyle leisure destination and reaping strong benefits to both locals and tourists."
An FE race requires a shorter circuit compared to its F1 counterpart and is typically a one-day affair, compared to the three-day stretch of motor-racing's pre-eminent event.
Sources suggest that the F1 pit building at Marina Bay could serve as the focal point of the proposed Singapore ePrix, with a modified Marina Bay circuit to serve its purpose, and a night race high up on the wish list.
Singapore's contract to host to a F1 race ends after next year, with the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) not giving any indication if FE will run hand in hand with F1, or even if Singapore will extend its F1 partnership.
Said an MTI spokesperson: "The government is deliberating on different options and further details will be shared in due course."
We are aware that Singapore is included in the provisional Formula E calendar for the 2016/2017 season but we have not received any proposals.
— STB’s sports director, Jean Ng
WHAT IS FORMULA E
Launched in 2014, the FIA Formula E World Championships is the first series featuring electric-powered cars.
It started with 10 teams with two drivers each with points awarded according to the standard FIA system. Races are one-day affairs on street circuits including practice and qualifying.
- Circuit length is about half that of an F1 circuit.
- One mandatory pit stop to change cars (with a fully-charged battery).
- In race mode, maximum power is restricted to 170kW, but three drivers, chosen by fans, will receive an extra 100kJ of energy in their second car.
- Nelson Piquet Jr, who deliberately crashed to allow Renault teammate Fernando Alonso to win the first F1 Singapore GP, was the first FE champion.