Formula E has suffered another blow to its European schedule today, after Belgian local government rejected the series’ proposal to race around Elisabeth Park, and withdrawn its subsidy. This decision is the second such move this week, swiftly following Berlin’s Green Party vetoing the Alexanderplatz track, forcing an as-yet-unconfirmed move back to Tempelhof Airport.
Without the agreed subsidy from Belgian local government, and regional authorisation to use public roads, plans for the inaugural Brussels race have now stalled. It is thought the subsidy was needed to fund adaptation of public roads, including smoothing asphalt and removal of pavements and signage, for the one-day event.
Much like the cancellation of the London ePrix, after protests from the Battersea Park Action Group saw an agreement with Formula E to withdraw the event, protesters have played their part in the decision. It is reported that 750 signatures were gathered from local residents, in protest against the event, with citizens citing fears over the disturbance the race would cause, as well as the nuisance and ecological impact on Elisabeth Park. It seems that this, alongside governmental concerns about closing the busy Leopold II Tunnel, a major traffic route in the city centre, have all played a part in the government’s decision to withdraw permission for the race.
Despite the decision, Minister-President of the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region, Rudi Vervoort, spoke to RTL, assuring the government’s commitment to the series, saying: “It seems safe to say two things: [the race] is not possible on this circuit in 2017, although we remain disposed to lead this project in future in the most adapted place possible, in the most adapted time possible.”
Motorsport have reported that Formula E are keen to keep twelve races on the season three calendar, and will consider double-headers if necessary, to flesh out the potentially-cancelled European rounds.
It is understood that Formula E is now working with the Belgian regional government to source an alternative venue.