BATTERSEA FE FACES BARRIERS
Russian race canned and now UK round faces major opposition
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.