Formula E

With shortcut: Formula E forgoes Formula 1 back straight for China comeback in Shanghai

Tobias Wirtz

Tobias Wirtz

Formula E will use a shortened version of the Shanghai International Circuit on its return to China. This is reported by the colleagues of The Race. Thanks to a short connection, the 1.2-kilometre-long back straight will be omitted. Such a long straight section would presumably have resulted in an extreme "slipstream battle" at the Shanghai E-Prix.

Drivers who take their foot off the pedal in the middle of the straight and voluntarily drop behind their rivals - images that we saw again and again in 2023. Especially on tracks with many long straights, for example in Sao Paulo or Portland, this was the order of the day for large parts of the race distance. Drivers who were in the lead for too long often lost out towards the end of the race. They were at an energy disadvantage compared to their rivals, who were driving in the slipstream and could therefore be "pulled" down the straights.

For the Shanghai E-Prix, Formula E wants to minimise this scenario by adapting the track layout. The permanent race track designed and built by Hermann Tilke and his Germany-based engineering firm is one of four circuits of the 2024 Formula E race calendar, on which other major formula series also race: The US IndyCar cars also compete in Portland, while Formula 1 also races in Mexico City, Monaco and Shanghai.

While the track layout in Monaco and Portland is almost identical, Formula E will only race on part of the Formula 1 circuit in Mexico and Shanghai. In the Chinese metropolis, the longest straight is omitted. While the first two kilometres of a lap are still identical to the track configuration used in Formula 1, Formula E drives virtually straight ahead at turn 9. This is followed by a tight chicane before the cars turn right again onto the start-finish straight.

This means that the electric series does away with the double left, which leads to the 1.3-kilometre-long back straight after another left-hand bend and a long right-hand bend. The length of a lap is therefore reduced from 5.45 to around 2.9 kilometres, leaving 12 instead of 16 corners. The short connection also shortens the start-finish straight of the circuit. Nevertheless, Envision driver Sebastien Buemi believes that slipstreaming will once again be an important issue in Shanghai.

"I expect in Shanghai maybe more something like Portland," the Swiss driver told The Race. "Maybe not as extreme as Portland but a bit in the direction of Portland. Maybe I would have preferred Sanya to be honest. I don’t know if the Gen3 would have fitted properly there. Let’s give Shanghai a try before we complain about it, let’s see."

The Shanghai E-Prix is planned as a double-header for 25 and 26 May. It will be the first Formula E race in China after the pandemic. The racing series previously raced in Beijing in 2014 and 2015, in the Chinese special administrative region of Hong Kong from 2016 to 2019 and once in Sanya on Hainan Island in 2019.

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