Banned in the country for more than 60 years, motor racing long seemed certain never to return to Switzerland. That is all set to change this weekend, however, as Formula E brings the sport back to the influential alpine nation for the first time since 1954.
Once again looking beyond old limits, the all-electric series is now just days away from the inaugural Zürich E-Prix – and Felix Rosenqvist is keen to play his part behind the wheel in an event of historic proportions.
“This is the most special race of the season, and probably one of the most special of my career,” says Felix Rosenqvist. “It will be memorable being in the first race on Swiss soil for more than 60 years. Switzerland is a country with strong administrative links to racing, and I have to say what Formula E is doing to bring the sport back after such a long time is extraordinary.”
The Swiss ban on racing came into effect in 1955 following the tragic accident at that year’s Le Mans 24 Hours race in France, where more than 80 people lost their lives in the deadliest disaster the sport has ever seen. The latest race staged in Switzerland took place at the Bremgarten circuit on the outskirts of Berne in 1954.
On Sunday, however, the 64-year hiatus will come to an end on the streets of downtown Zürich – the largest city in the country with roughly 400 000 inhabitants. A temporary track of 2.46 km will run along the beautiful Lake Zürich promenade, through the banking district and past the sights of the city centre, making it a striking setting worthy of the occasion.
The circuit layout features a mix of several 90-degree corners, one chicane and two straights, linked by a tight hairpin which is likely to mark the main overtaking spot.
“I’ve obviously driven the track on our simulator in Spain, but it’s hard to say how accurate that actually is when we’re talking about a brand new circuit,” Rosenqvist continues. “It will be interesting to go there and find out in real life.”
Following two difficult races in Paris and Berlin recently, Rosenqvist has lost ground to Jean-Eric Vergne and Sam Bird in the Formula E driver standings, but still remains third overall after claiming two wins (in Hong Kong and Marrakesh) at the beginning of the season.
The Swedish Mahindra Racing driver is looking to stave off the challenge coming mainly from Berlin winner Daniel Abt and ex-FE champion Sébastien Buemi, racing on home soil in Switzerland this weekend, for third in the general classification.
The Zürich E-Prix is the tenth race out of twelve in the 2017-18 ABB FIA Formula E Championship. The final two races will take place during a double-header meeting in New York next month.
All times local (GMT+02:00)
ABB FIA Formula E Championship
Race 10/12 | Zürich E-Prix
Sunday 10 June
Free Practice 1: 09.00-09.45
Free Practice2: 11.30-12.00
CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (top five)
ABB FIA Formula E Championship
After 9/12 races
1: Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA), 162 p.
2: Sam Bird (GBR), 122 p.
3: Felix Rosenqvist (SWE), 86 p.
4: Daniel Abt (GER), 85 p.
5: Sébastien Buemi (CHE), 82 p.