December 3, 2018 / 6:22 PM / 8 days ago

INTERVIEW-Motor racing-Formula E wants race in New Zealand, London return

LONDON, Dec 3 (Reuters) - Formula E is keen on a race in New Zealand and hopes to return London’s streets even if Brexit means moving its logistics base out of Britain, chief executive Alejandro Agag said on Monday.

The all-electric city-based series is preparing to start its fifth season with new-look cars in Saudi Arabia, which will be the first Formula E race held in the Middle East, on Dec. 15.

The 13-round calendar takes in North Africa, with the second race in Morocco’s Marrakesh, before visits to North and South America, China and Europe. Plans for a 2020 race in South Korea were outlined last week.

An Auckland-based consortium last month launched a bid to bring Formula E to New Zealand in the 2019-20 season and Agag liked the idea.

“We know about the interest of Auckland. I would love to have a race there because it would cover a part of the world we are not present in,” Agag told Reuters in an interview in his London office.

“I know the interest of Sarajevo and many other cities. We are talking with a large number of cities, also some in Brazil which is a big market for us,” he added.

Brazilian Nelson Piquet junior was Formula E’s first champion in 2015 and compatriot Lucas Di Grassi took the title in season three. Felipe Massa, another ex-Formula One driver, will join them on the grid this season.

Sao Paulo had been due to debut in 2017 but withdrew and there is no Brazilian round on the 2018-19 schedule.

Most of the teams are based in Britain but London has been off the calendar since 2016 after residents near the Battersea Park venue complained of disruption on their doorstep.

Agag met David Richards, chairman of Britain’s Motor Sports Association (MSA), on Monday to discuss the options.

“We have a plan with a few steps that we are going to be putting into motion to see if we can bring the race back to the UK. London would be our number one option but it doesn’t mean that it has to be London,” he said.

“Birmingham we would love to go to, Manchester would be an option,” he added.

Formula E has its logistical headquarters at the Donington Park circuit, in central England, but Agag said plans were already being made for a re-location of cars and equipment in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit.

“If Brexit happens in a way that movement of goods is difficult, if there is no deal it will be basically impossible to move through the (Channel) tunnel without massive delays, so we just move everything to continental Europe,” he said. “We are looking into Valencia, some places in Italy and maybe France.” (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris)

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