We’ve been fortunate to witness a truly exceptional debut season for Formula E., with close racing throughout the field and great variety in the circuits used throughout the season. As the season approaches a double header at Battersea park with the championship battle as close as ever, it’s disappointing to see some negativity has been directed towards the series and the Battersea ePrix itself.
Why The Criticism?
Whereas most ePrix have taken place in the heart of the city, the London ePrix is unique in that it will take place within Battersea Park, one of the most interesting parks within London. Battersea Park is hugely popular with local residents – its lush gardens and open space are well loved by locals and tourists looking to get away from the busy city.
Wandsworth council’s deputy leader is clearly excited about the potential of the circuit. He said:
‘Our great city now has another world-class event to add it its calendar. Formula E is an incredible racing spectacle and a showcase for zero emission electric motoring. This sport is changing attitudes to electric and I’m delighted Battersea Park will be the backdrop for the season finale’.
Criticism does however continue to become more pronounced as the event moves closer, with numerous articles appearing in both local and national media. A small campaign has also been set up by local residents, who have since been offered free tickets to the event, in a bid to see the contract break after the first race to be exercised.
Are they valid?
The main criticism revolves around some of the permanent damage that has been done to the park to accommodate Formula E, as well work that is currently taking place which to many goes against what the park was intended for. Many have also used this as an opportunity to criticise Formula E as a whole, arguing that its ‘green credentials’ are limited when the carbon footprint of shipping the cars and equipment across the world is incredibly high.
The latter point is, of course, not even worth arguing against – If one can’t see the long-term benefit of Formula E in developing transferable battery technology then I’m not going to bother wasting words in an attempt to educate them.
Criticisms of the damage done to the park however are much more understandable, but we can only hope that this does not overshadow the event and the media coverage it receives. The event itself will only take up significant space for five days and the benefit to the local economy will be huge, with over 40,000 attendees expected for each race day.
Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag has also spoken to reassure those against the series that the track won’t harm the fabric of the park:
‘This is the first time in the season that we’re going to race inside a park, and we think that’s a great message’, he said. ‘Clean cars and clean mobility, it feels very comfortable in a park, in a green space like this. We’re making every effort to make the park better than when we came and we think that will be the result. We want the race to be a positive thing for the park’, he continued.
Inevitably one of either two things will happen – either the event will be a huge success and the criticisms will die down, or the disruptions caused by the event will cause the non-vocal locals to have their voices heard. Let’s hope it’s the former….
Written by: Anil Parmar