Formula E, the electric version of Formula 1 that Richard Branson believes will be more popular than Formula 1 within five years, will be coming to Paris in 2016. It is the latest global city to land the young electric car race.
Before the Formula E drivers move on to Berlin, Moscow, and London again — cities where they sped, crashed, and rolled in 2015 — they will race in the City of Light on April 23, 2016. The location will be the historic 17th-century Les Invalides complex, which sounds romantic to me even though it translated as “The Disabled.” And, honestly, isn’t that somewhat of a screwed up name for a car racing venue?
Aside from Paris, it’s also been rumored that Kazakhstan (presumably Astana or Almaty) and Montreal will get added to the Formla E circuit in 2016. Naturally, though, with Paris being one of the world’s favorite cities, it’s a big score to get the Formula E there. “Staging a Formula E race in the heart of Paris is undoubtedly a landmark in the development of our series,” Alejandro Agag, chief executive for Formula E, stated. “I am particularly pleased that a city that is so involved in energy transition and sustainable development will organise a round of the championship.”
The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, chimed in as well, stating: “Paris supports this championship for Formula E cars, because it is a fantastic accelerator for innovation in the field of electric mobility and its promotion in our towns,”
With sponsors such as Visa, DHL, Michelin, BMW, Renault, and several others, the competition is getting some serious backing already. But it’s just the beginning. Word is getting around fast, and 2016 should be another record year for the competition. Over the course of 9 months, the drivers will rip through the streets of 12 cities, starting in Beijing, China.
But back to Branson’s bold statement: “I think there is still going to be room for Formula 1 in the next few years, but four or five years from now you will see Formula E overtaking Formula 1…. Just as clean energy type of businesses will power ahead of other types of businesses.”
Hmm, I’m not so sure about that prediction. Market transitions based on basic economics are one thing, but toppling the iconic Formula 1 within 5 years? I’d love to see it, but I’m not betting on it.