|Photo Credit: Sam Bloxham/LAT/Formula E|
Since 1978, the City of Montreal has been known for showing hospitality to the global open wheel racing stars of the Formula 1 championship. A month and half later Lewis Hamilton won the 50th year anniversary edition Canadian Grand Prix, a new world auto racing tour prepares to put on a show unlike any other seen at such a scale in this country. Formula E makes its debut in Canada for what is the season three finale with the Montreal ePrix.
Consisting of all-electric open wheel race cars fielded by well-rated teams and some established professional drivers, FIA's Formula E first became a spectacle in 2014 when the series debuted in Beijing. Competing with an identical chassis designed by Dallara and built by Spark Racing Technology, Formula E teams have been permitted to develop their own electric power units since the second season. Electric powertrain options have opened the door to major automakers such as Jaguar and BMW currently involving themselves in competition. Over the course of three years, ePrix races have been held in locales such as London, Monaco, Long Beach and most recently in New York City. During July 29th and July 30th, Montreal joins the list of world-class cities staging the unique motor racing event.
Instead of being held on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve track, the all-electric race cars of Formula E will compete on its own unique 14-turn temporary street course in downtown Montreal. Situated in the Ville-Marie borough, the 2.75-kilometer track will start on Rene Levesque Boulevard and wrap around the Maison Radio-Canada. A new race course, competitors predicting a bumpy ride over the start-finish line stretch and several elevation changes. Competition for the weekend will be split into two races over the weekend with an 35-lap feature on Saturday and another one on Sunday.
Differing from most other auto racing championships, Formula E titles are not decided with the final race of a calendar year. For Canadian fans, the first appearance of the series provides opportunity to witness the 2016-2017 season champion being crowned. The end of this Formula E season has former Formula 1 competitors Lucas di Grassi and Sebastien Buemi fighting for top honours in a points fight that will have both Montreal ePrix races weigh heavily on the final outcome of the championship. The premiere of Formula E in Canada is being sponsored by energy supplier Hydro-Quebec.
The province of Quebec is continuing to promote automotive electrification on many fronts. Purchasing incentives for buyers of electric cars, a growing network of charging stations and incorporation of electric vehicles in fleets highlight Canada's most aggressive planning towards seeking alternatives to internal combustion engines. The Montreal ePrix provides a moment to showcase and celebrate elements of a lower emissions future the province is working to create. "Montreal has a great motorsport tradition and the local authorities, as well as its citizens are particularly receptive to a hot topic such as a new model for sustainable mobility. If there’s one single event that brings together these two elements, it’s definitely a Formula E race." said FIA president Jean Todt when the event was announced in September of 2016.
Formula E has already affirmed the Montreal ePrix will return in 2018 at the end of season four.