West Midlands mayor Andy Street claims that he is close to confirming a deal to host Birmingham as a round of the 2018/19 Formula E championship, pending the approval of Birmingham city council and Formula E.
Returning motorsport to the streets of Birmingham was part of Street’s winning manifesto in the 2017 mayoral elections.
Street has made sport a big part of his agenda over the past year, as he also was part of the team which recently secured Birmingham as the host venue of the 2022 Commonwealth games.
“To be really clear the deal has not yet been signed but we are in the final stages of negotiation,” Street explained on Monday.
“An electric motorsport event in Birmingham would not only showcase the transformation of the city but give us a platform for our region’s world-class future transport technologies.”
“So much of the engineering that goes into the cars already used in Formula E racing comes from the West Midlands, it makes perfect sense we should be hosting such events,”
From 1986-1990 the city held the Birmingham Superprix, which held rounds of series such as Formula 3000 (Today known as Formula 2) and the British Touring Car Championship, until it was cancelled after being deemed too expensive by the local council and too unpopular amongst local residents. Street asserts that the Birmingham E-Prix will be a modernised version of the famous 1980’s event.
“Over the last year, we have been in negotiations with the organisers of the FIA Formula E Championship about bringing a road race to Birmingham, effectively reviving the Superprix,” said Street.
“We are now in the advanced stages of these negotiations. If we are successful in concluding the deal, this Formula E race will take place next summer on a route similar to the one used in the original Superprix.”
“Of course, there is still work to do. Birmingham City Council have been supportive in our discussions and we are working towards a deal based on commercial sponsorship.”
If Birmingham’s bid is successful it would be the first E-Prix to take place in the UK since the 2016 London E-Prix in Battersea Park; a controversial event which went ahead due to a deal Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag made with local residents to prevent their judicial review into the local council’s conduct in hosting the event, which if successful would have stopped the 2016 event from happening altogether.
The review was cancelled under the condition that Formula E would never again return to Battersea Park, thereby activating the break clause and ending the five year contract prematurely.
Formula E were evasive when asked about the status of the Birmingham deal on Tuesday, but expressed an interest in hosting a new race in the UK.
“The UK has a strong racing heritage and is an important market for Formula E – so it’s a priority to bring a race back to British soil,” A Formula E spokesperson responded.
“Formula E is based in the UK, as are a number of drivers, teams and manufacturers. With the impending ban of petrol and diesel cars in 2040, the movement towards electric is unstoppable and Formula E is helping to speed-up that process.
“Regarding an E-Prix in the UK – we want to find the right venue for the long-term. We’re currently evaluating a number of options and Birmingham is one of them.”