Montreal gets Formula E races for June 2017

Audi also invests in race team, paving way for full factory support

Published: September 4, 2016, 9:05 AM
Updated: November 21, 2021, 3:24 PM

Team ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport Formula E car

Formula E, the open wheel racing series for fully-electric cars, has released a tentative schedule for 2017, and two races are planned for Montreal.

The FiA Formula E Championship was established in 2012, with the first racing season starting at the end of 2014. Unlike most other premiere racing series that run over the warm weather months in the northern hemisphere, Formula E starts its season in the fall and runs over the winter and spring.

The 14-race 2016-17 season starts Oct. 9 in Hong Kong and ends up with two races in New York at the end of July 2017. Along the way, it stops in Morocco, Argentina, Mexico, Monaco, France, Germany, Brussels and Montreal.

The Montreal races are tentatively scheduled for July 15 and 16, two weeks before the season finale in New York. For the first two seasons, two races at a temporary street circuit in Battersea Park in London marked the end of the season, but the city isn’t even listed on the calendar (though things sometimes change over the course of the season) as it searches for a replacement circuit.

Formula E originally established itself on temporary street circuits, with the reasoning being that EV technology is a city-transportation initiative so what better way than to create city-celebration festivals built around a weekend of racing by electric cars.

With that in mind, it is not yet known if the Montreal race will be held on a temporary downtown circuit or on the island’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve that holds various other races. The Mexico City race has previously been held at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez circuit, so a case could be made either way for the race in Montreal.

The races themselves are meant to last about an hour in time with a pit stop about halfway through to switch cars. For 2017, overall car weight has been reduced but battery weight has been increased. The amount of regeneration allowed has also been increased, meaning the cars should theoretically be able to run longer.

Of special interest is that one of the support races for each of the race weekends is Roborace — a race of electric driverless cars, meant to showcase the rapidly-developing autonomous vehicle industry.

Also of interest is that Audi, one of the pioneers in the fields of electric vehicles and autonomous driving, is making a major commitment to the series. Not only will Audi Sport continue its support of Formula E Team ABT Schaeffler (one of the mainstays in the series, since inception) but will also include Formula E in its factory-backed motorsport program.

“Audi has consistently been using motorsport to test and develop new technologies further for subsequent use in production,” said Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, head of Audi Motorsport. “Now we intend to repeat this in fully electric racing. Formula E with its races being held in the hearts of major cities is an ideal stage for this purpose and Team ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport a logical partner for us.”

Part of the Audi commitment to the team is a more prominent display of the four rings on the multi-coloured livery of the cars, to visually indicate the increase in financial and technical support, as it moves to full-factory commitment for the 2017-18 season. Drivers Daniel Abt and Lucas di Grassi will again be behind the wheels of the cars, as they have been since the inception of the series.

“Electric mobility is one of the key topics in our industry,” concluded Dr. Stefan Knirsch, member of Audi’s Board of Management, for Technical Development. “We intend to evolve into one of the leading premium car manufacturers in this field … adapting our motorsport program and taking up a commitment in a fully electric racing series is only a logical move.”