Start and Finish: Strausberger Platz – Formula E Race along Karl-Marx-Allee

We’ve all seen the photos of champagne showers and racing cars in front of a Mediterranean backdrop. The Monaco Grand Prix turns the principality into a huge pit lane. Tickets sell out years in advance and cost a fortune – a first-row seat will set you back €5,500. That’s a lot of money for the ear-splitting roar of engines, a few seconds of racing and the less-than-pleasant waft of high-octane fuel.


Preview video for the E-Prix 2016 in Berlin. Image courtesy of Racingblog

However, there’s an alternative. How about watching electric cars accelerate almost silently to 100 km/h in 3 seconds in a breath-taking setting in the heart of Berlin? At approximately 80 decibel, these sleek beauties make about as much noise as your average family car. If you don’t believe me, come and see for yourself. This coming weekend, the FIA Formula E Berlin ePrix – no. 8 in the 10-race season – takes drivers around a 2.03km circuit of Karl-Marx-Allee and Lichtenberger Straße that includes a total of 11 bends. At €18 a ticket, this is great value for money!

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Image courtesy of Digital Storm – shutterstock.com

Ten teams of two drivers and four cars are competing against each other in the Formula E, many of them well-known to Formula One fans: Nick Heidfeld, Nicolas Prost, Nelson Piquet, Bruno Senna, Lucas di Grassi, Daniel Abt… Points are awarded according to the standard Formula One system, with two exceptions: drivers get three extra points for winning pole position and two extra points for the fastest lap. In other words: drivers put the pedal to the metal from the get-go. If you brake, you lose.

This is an innovative formula in every sense. Ahead of every race, fans can cast an online vote for their favourite driver. The three drivers with the most votes win an extra speed boost during the race.

There’s another difference, of course: while Formula One drivers change tyres, Formula E drivers change cars. Batteries only last 25 minutes, after which drivers have to make a mandatory pit stop to change cars for the second half. Here, too, every second counts.

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Fountain at Strausberger Platz. Image courtesy of jock+scott – photocase.de

The fountain at the centre of the Strausberger Platz roundabout is the highest in Berlin. And Karl-Marx-Allee offers spectators an unbroken line of vision over more than 2km. Being able to experience this cutting-edge glimpse into the future of automotive technology on one of socialist East Germany’s most prestigious boulevards is living proof of history’s power to change things for the better. Once a venue for government-sponsored rallies and parades, Karl-Marx-Allee now hosts sporting events such as the annual Berlin Half Marathon, which saw 40,000 runners from all over the world pounding the streets of the German capital. And as with the Formula E race, Strausberger Platz is a prime spot for spectators. For this Saturday’s big event, even the magnolias are in bloom.

Date: Saturday, 21 May 2016 
Berlin ePrix Programme

08:15–09:00: 1st Practice Session (45 min)
10:30–11:00: 2nd Practice Session (30 min)
12:00–12:06: Qualifying Group 1 (6 min)
12:10–12:16: Qualifying Group 2 (6 min)
12:20–12:26: Qualifying Group 3 (6 min)
12:30–13:36: Qualifying Group 4 (10 min)
12:45–13:00: Super Pole (10 min)

16:00–17:00: Formula-E Race (approx. 60 min)
17:00: Award Ceremony