Formula E’s 2016/17 calendar might have omitted its grandstand UK event, however new venues Hong Kong and Marrakeh seek to build early momentum that was lost in the previous two years.
Singapore marks as a new edition to the calendar on Aprill 22nd while Hong Kong will replace Beijing as the season opener on October 9th. While efforts have also been made to accommodate drivers competing in both Formula E and WEC events (with scheduling set to avoid clashes between events) the two month-plus gap between Marrakech and Mexico City on the 28th of January could be better served filling a gap during the traditional motor sport off-season.
In this respect, the very reason for Formula E’s crossover season calendar becomes heavily redundant when attempting to capitalize on a lull in racing during the December-February period.
One might argue that racing fans might be suffering from racing overload and that saturating the almanac might be a waste of valuable time and resources, but Formula E is about entering new markets that rival categories haven’t tapped into. Grabbing their attention is one thing, but holding their interest is a much more difficult thing to do.
Let us also not forget about the swinging motorsport fan. In the absence of Formula One, WEC, MotoGP and WRC, ancestral racing punters would be more than likely to switch onto Formula E in a sense of curiosity – especially given the drivers competing (Sebastien Buemi, Stephane Sarrazin, Nelson Piquet and Bruno Senna to name but a few) have also featured in three of the aforementioned categories.
Then factor in Formula E’s propensity for close racing and ergo tight championships and viewers have every reason to keep tuning in to keep updated. Nevertheless, the present calendar gaps nullify these prospects and almost present themselves as a mini-hiatus. By the time the season gets swinging again, casual viewers have already lost interest.
Formula E is being careful not to overspend and overdevelop too quickly in the interests of series longevity, but overlooking the calendar situation is seriously missing the bigger picture. It’s a bit like building the best engine you can and filling it with the cheapest oil possible.
Good thing Formula E’s electric.