As Switzerland Ends 50-Year Racing Ban to Host Formula E Race, Refugee Crisis Challenges Berlin Formula E Race

Back in 1955, the world-famous 24-hour endurance race in Le Mans, France was the scene of a catastrophic accident which claimed the lives of more than 80 spectators and injured a further 120. Consequently, a number of countries, including France, Germany, Spain and Switzerland, passed a ban on all forms of motorsport, deeming the potential cost to human life just too high to allow races to continue.

Since then, every country which enacted the ban has lifted it, allowing motor racing on their tracks and roads. All that is except Switzerland, which has kept its motor racing ban intact for the past fifty years.

Formula E will come to Switzerland in 2016.

Formula E will come to Switzerland in 2016.

But as our friends at Autobloggreen report, that ban is about to come to an end with the news that mountain nation has given its official approval to the FIA Formula E Championship so that it can host its electric car race series there.

While motor racing itself has been officially banned in Switzerland however, it’s worth noting that a number of motor racing teams are based there, including the Trulli GP Formula E team. So far in the  championship’s short history, more Swiss drivers have competed in Formula E than any other country, with Sebastien Buemi, Alex Fontana, Fabio Leimer and Simona de Silvestro stepping behind the wheel of a Formula E car for either championship races or demonstration events.

Germany's Formula E race is now looking for a new venue, however.

Germany’s Formula E race is now looking for a new venue, however.

Given Switzerland’s enthusiastic support of electric vehicles, we think it’s appropriate that Formula E will be the racing series to end more than half a century of motor racing bans, although as Autobloggreen notes, it won’t be until the 2016/2017 race season that we’ll see the country play host to an official Formula E round.

That’s because the small city of Lugano where the Formula E race will take place — located close to the Italian border — reports it will take more than a year to prepare its roads to race quality. Given the London finals of the inaugural FIA Formula E season were forced to execute some last-minute track maintenance to ensure racing was safe — we’re guessing that’s a pretty smart move.

In related news, we also heard today that Formula E will have to find an alternative location for the German e-Prix on May 21, caused not by poor track conditions but by the current Syrian refugee crisis in Europe.

That’s because the beautiful Tempelhof airfield in Berlin — which played host to the event last year — is currently home to around 800 people fleeing from the oppressive regimes and civil wars in Syria and the Middle East. Thanks to its central location and amenities, the German government plans to use the former airport as a makeshift refugee camp, and could eventually offer a home to more than 1200 people fleeing persecution.

An alternative venue in the form of the Norisring in Nuremberg is already being considered, and says Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag, has some benefits that Templehof does not.

“The Norisring would be pretty cool,” he told Autosport. “It’s a proper racing place. That’s nice. It’s like racing in Monaco or Long Beach. It brings a lot of heritage. We are motorsport fanatics here, and we know the value of heritage and history. It’s everything in motorsport.”

While we’re sure some fans will be disappointed to hear of the change of venue, we’re sure that most — just like the staff here at Transport Evolved — place humanitarian relief efforts far   above the frills of motorsport.

Here’s hoping that wherever it is held, the German round on May 21 turns out to be an enjoyable and exciting race.


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