With its vibrant green spaces, wide and winding waterways and bridges galore, Putrajaya’s beauty and effortless serenity could redefine motor racing.
At first, the decision to host the second round of the maiden Formula E championship in the small city seems odd. Beijing kicks off the season, and places like Miami, Los Angeles, London and Monaco follow. Those are locations that don’t need to be explained; they are headline statements – thrusting, famous, unapologetic in their global celebrity. Putrajaya, however, might just be enough of an upstart teenage talent to cause a sensation and steal the limelight come October.
The city, in its current guise, is very new, situated 25km south of the more well-known Kuala Lumpur. While KL remains Malaysia’s capital, Putrajaya has been the government’s administrative centre since 1999. The Prime Minister’s office and official residence, foreign department and finance ministry are all located in the city, which has a population of around 70,000 and covers less than 50sq km. While the metropolis has existed since the early part of last century, its current size and role was only developed at the end of the century, in the final years of the 1990s. That makes it just 15 years old.
The track is little more than 2.5km long, with 12 bends. That makes it much shorter and much simpler – according to the statistics – than the Beijing circuit, which was revealed last month and which boasts almost an additional kilometre in length and 20 bends in total.
Yet, the Putrajaya track is immediately more exciting. It has two long straights, interrupted by tight kink, which will allow flat-out wheel-to-wheel overtaking and close slip streaming. There is a tight hairpin and two glorious, long sweeping bends, both of which should make for tight racing.
The circuit will take the cars screaming around the country’s Ministry of Finance and near the Prime Minister’s office. It’s a shame that the track doesn’t take the opportunity to cross the water on the many nearby bridges, which would have made for spectacular viewing. And in comparison to unusual U-shape of the Beijing pit lane, the entrance and exit to the garages seems very conventional.
But the stunning backdrop of natural beauty and striking mix of traditional and modern architecture, and the country’s commitment to greening its transport systems, heralds a bright future for the fixture. It’s certainly a different proposition to Beijing, and it can promise the possibility of even better subsequent iterations as it expanded to accommodate the evolution of the racing cars as they become faster and last longer.
It may be that Putrajaya is the perfect city to grow up with the new sport.
Photos courtesy of adinaphotographs.