Buenos Aires gets itchy feet

Current-E-Formula-E-Buenos-Aires-2016-Top-Shots-Shivraj-Gohil-Jack Nicholls on track

Formula E will be looking for a new venue in Buenos Aires as of season four, with next February’s event set to be the last held at Puerto Madero.

Buenos Aires is one of just two cities to have appeared on the calendar for all three Formula E seasons, alongside Berlin, with the race traditionally being the first of the new calendar year.

The inaugural race in Buenos Aires offered one of Formula E’s most memorable rounds as a litany of incidents and crashes saw the lead change hands again and again, before Antonio Felix da Costa and Team Aguri picked up the victory.

Season two’s race was another classic for Formula E as Sebastien Buemi charged from last on the grid to sit second in the closing stages, only to be denied the unlikeliest of victories by an even more unlikely performance, as Sam Bird drove the wheels off his tail-happy, heavy DS Virgin Racing car to hang on to the lead. 

The layout in the Puerto Madero park is one that resembles a more traditional race track, while also retaining the characteristics of a street circuit. It is one of the fastest circuits on the calendar and, perhaps not coincidenatlly, is also one of the most liked within the paddock.  

However, this February’s race will be the last, with series boss Alejandro Agag confirming in a press conference launching the 2017 event that a new venue would be sought for 2018.

“We will work along with the government to find another location,” Agag said, as quoted by motorsport.com. “We want to find a new track and this is key in order to renew the contract between Formula E and Buenos Aires for the future.”

Current E learned last month that a move was likely for 2018 although we couldn’t corroborate the story before the press conference. We understand that local authorities are in favour of a a move to the Autodromo Juan y Oscar Galvez, a former host of the F1 race in Buenos Aires and a track that currently stages national events.

Such a move would go against the grain of Formula E being held chiefly on street courses within cities. However, much as is the case in Mexico City, the permanent road course is well inside the city; in this case, around a 35 minute drive from Puerto Madero.

As the season four calendar is pieced together in the coming months, keep an eye on the future of the Buenos Aires race. The presence of local favourite Jose Maria Lopez on the grid should offer a big boost to Formula E’s chances of remaining in Argentina, strengthening visibility of a sport in the country (the first two races were already very well attended). Too, its status as the only South American round on the calendar (with Punta del Este being dropped from season three and Rio de Janeiro never even making it to the start line after initial interest) should be cherished in a country where passionate racing crowds chant as loudly at trackside as football fans do in stadia elsewhere.

Luke Smith

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