Formula E confirms inaugural Cape Town e-Prix

Formula E will race for the first time in Cape Town on 25 February 2023, bringing the all-electric series to the streets of the Mother City.

By Sarah Hoek

 The new generation of Formula E cars can reach top speeds of 322km/h.

This date was confirmed with an update to the calendar for the 2022/23 season, with pre-season testing kicking off on 13 December in Spain. Iain Banner, the chairperson of race promoters e-Movement, told Daily Maverick he envisions that the Cape Town circuit will be on the “top three races on the calendar in terms of beauty – with Table Mountain, it’s really a lovely circuit around the stadium. It’s fantastic.”

Cape Town is set to become the first African city to host a Grand Prix in 2023. (Photos supplied by Formula E)

Cape Town will be the fifth race of the season, following the inaugural Hyderabad e-Prix in India and just ahead of the race in São Paulo, Brazil, in March.

“We are excited to announce Cape Town as a new destination for our series in Season 9… we cannot wait to see the futuristic Gen3 race cars competing against the iconic natural backdrop of Table Mountain,” Alberto Longo, co-founder and chief championship officer for Formula E, said.

Racing in the last warmth of South Africa’s summer months, fans can expect a sunny day out on track, with highs of up to 30°C and a daily average of about 21°C, if the weather follows the pattern of previous years.

Set next to the Atlantic against the backdrop of Table Mountain, the race will start next to Green Point Stadium on Vlei Road and make its way through the Green Point and Waterfront districts. The 2.8km route is expected to be one of the fastest tracks on the calendar, and its 12 turns promise some exciting overtaking opportunities.

“The City of Cape Town views Formula E as a key event that could go a long way in cementing Cape Town’s position among the most progressive cities in the world,” Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said.

Big jump in power

Cape Town’s race will also be one of the first opportunities to see Formula E’s new Gen3 cars in action, which are debuting for the 2022/23 championship.

The Gen3 cars are the fastest Formula E vehicles to date, with a top speed of 322km/h – which is a big jump up from 2022’s Gen2 cars which had a top speed of 280km/h. The new cars are also smaller in length, width and height, and about 60kg lighter than their predecessors, lending to faster racing. The cars are powered by an electric motor that delivers up to 350kW of power, and a new front powertrain allows for a total regenerative capability of 600kW – more than doubling that of the Gen2 cars.

However, when the provisional 2022/23 season calendar was first released in June this year, Cape Town was noticeably absent.

“Simply, we weren’t ready,” Banner explained.

“We were busy building a track. We were just starting getting everything in line and we knew Cape Town would be on the calendar – although there were some fraught moments in between.”

The city beat out other cities for the chance to hold the race, and although Cape Town is now on the calendar, its spot remains subject to FIA homologation. Only once the circuit is built can an FIA inspector carry out a verification of the safety level of the track, and an FIA licence be issued.

Banner expects the circuit to be complete by mid-December.

“We’ve got a lot to do, but the track is three-quarters finished. But we’re on track and it’s looking very good,” he said.

E-fest finale

The race on 25 October will be the finale of a 10-day E-fest, which features an all-electric vehicle road trip across South Africa, an e-mobility festival and a golf invitational event.

Running alongside these events will be Africa’s Green Economy Summit, which Banner explained is a project “aimed to match African opportunity with global capital, specifically in the e-mobility sector”.

“I think it’s critical that we contribute towards rebuilding this country, and part of that growth has to come from tourism and exposure to what we have to offer. And I can’t think of a better way of creating a magnificent set of television pictures for the world than having cutting-edge Formula E cars racing around the stadium and Cape Town,” he said.

Tickets to the Cape Town E-Prix will be released in the coming months at www.capetowneprix.com

Article courtesy of Daily Maverick

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