Rus­sian race canned and now UK round faces ma­jor op­po­si­tion

Motor Sport News - - Headline News - By Scott Mitchell

The For­mula E ti­tle run-in has been thrown into dis­ar­ray fol­low­ing the can­cel­la­tion of the Moscow eprix and a fresh threat to the Lon­don fi­nale.

The fate of the planned Bat­tersea Park dou­ble-header will be de­cided in court on May 24.

Op­po­nents to the July 2/3 race have cur­rently raised two-thirds of the £30,000 they had tar­geted through crowd­fund­ing to cover the le­gal costs sur­round­ing the claim, but it is un­der­stood they have still suc­ceeded in in­sti­gat­ing a ju­di­cial re­view into the ex­tent of Wandsworth Coun­cil’s clo­sure of the park and the plan­ning con­sent around the event.

That means a re­newed and se­ri­ous threat to the For­mula E round, which looked to have cleared its fi­nal se­ri­ous hur­dle last De­cem­ber and re­ceived plan­ning per­mis­sion ear­lier this year.

The coun­cil had voted not to in­voke its break clause with For­mula E, lean­ing on the in­come it re­ceives for al­low­ing the event to take place in the park, and how that off­sets a cut in its bud­get that runs into the tens of mil­lions.

Ar­gu­ments against the event in­cluded the al­leged in­ap­pro­pri­ate use of a Grade Two listed park for a race track, the ex­tent of the dis­rup­tion the three-week build process caused, and claims that 97 per cent of the park was off lim­its dur­ing the June 27/28, 2015, week­end.

The lat­ter point is part of the crux of the fresh le­gal claim against the coun­cil.

The May 24 court date means For­mula E will not know for cer­tain whether the Bat­tersea race will go ahead un­til af­ter the next event in Ber­lin on May 21.

It is be­lieved the cham­pi­onship is con­sid­er­ing al­ter­na­tives to the Lon­don fi­nale, but what is not known is whether an­other venue can be found in the cap­i­tal or else­where in the UK.

It is un­der­stood For­mula E has not given up on reach­ing an agree­ment with Moscow to host a race at a later date, de­spite can­celling the city’s planned June 4 event and fail­ing in a bid to re­place it with a race in Monaco.

Af­ter the lo­cal au­thor­ity in Moscow failed to guar­an­tee it would close the roads nec­es­sary for the race, For­mula E en­tered ad­vanced ne­go­ti­a­tions with of­fi­cials in Monaco.

It hoped the new event could utilise the same date one week af­ter For­mula 1’s Monaco Grand Prix. But it is be­lieved the lo­gis­ti­cal is­sue of get­ting the F1 pad­dock va­cated and the FE set-up in less than a week, com­bined with an in­ter­na­tional show jump­ing event in Monte Carlo later in June, was the main stum­bling block.

Pho­tos: LAT, Jakob Ebrey

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