London to continue as host of the season finale? ExCeL includes Formula E in long-term plans
After the great success of the London E-Prix 2023, the ExCeL exhibition center in the east of the British capital is gearing up to host Formula E races in the future as well. The British organizers want to stick to the unique concept of the indoor/outdoor track, which runs through one of the exhibition halls.
According to media reports, the indoor part of the circuit will move into a larger hall from 2025. The outdoor section could then lead along a newly designed waterfront on the river Thames. Since in the same year the contract, initially signed for a duration of five years, was set to expire, an early extension of the contract would give the promoters more planning security. Talks on this are already underway. Originally, the first race at the ExCeL Exhibition Center was to have taken place in July 2020, but was postponed until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"We’ve got a multi-year licence with Formula E going forward and we are engaged and talking now about future planning for Gen4," Damien Norman, Head of Attractions & Live Events at ExCeL London told The Race, hinting at an extension beyond 2026. That's when the final season with the Gen3 cars will take place. The great popularity of the spectators plays an important role in this.
"This is the first time they’ve sold out the grandstands at the race, which is an important footnote in the development," Norman said of the race this year. "I think once you get to a point where you’re selling out those grandstands it’s then about ‘how do we work to build more grandstands? How do they evolve the hospitality offering? How do you look at the future of it? That might be a Friday night race, it might be doing something completely unique and bringing that in the evening."
"We obviously don’t drive that, Formula E drives that. But we are huge supporters in helping them evolve and we’re experts in events at this venue. I think there’s a lot more that we could do and achieve and clearly Formula E has got a really strong team to help make that vision a reality."
"Track will have direct access to water"
The ExCeL center is currently undergoing a major expansion. By the end of 2024, 25,000 additional square meters of exhibition space will be created on three levels, including a panoramic roof terrace. This will open up new opportunities for Formula E, particularly with regard to the much more powerful and likely faster Gen4 race cars.
"The capacity of the grandstands will increase as a result, (and) there are opportunities as well for us to extend the track," Norman announced. "One of the interesting things is that because of the configuration of the track and the way it is going to be built, you're going to have instant access to the water as well. This will then bring into play a whole area of the campus that isn’t being used."
Construction work also during 2024 race weekend
But visitors the London E-Prix are also expected to benefit from the conversion work. "We started two months ago (with) a redevelopment and a greening of the whole waterfront," Norman continued, "bringing in really world class floating hospitality which will, again, enhance that kind of festival campus experience for Formula E."
The next London E-Prix on July 20-21, 2024, however, is still likely to take place on the old track configuration, but will once again be the Formula E season finale. At that point, the renovations to the ExCeL Exhibition Center are expected to focus only on interior construction, so fans should not have the impression that they are at a construction site.