Government report outlines criticisms of Bern Formula E race

The race track in Bern passed close by the River Aare and the Old Town. © Keystone / Anthony Anex

This summer’s Formula E race near the historic centre of Bern was generally positive, but a different track should be envisaged for any future races in the capital, the city government says. 

This content was published on September 20, 2019 - 16:32

The Swiss E-Prix electric car race held in Bern on June 22 attracted 130,000 people and took place peacefully, despite a protest two days before the race against its environment impact. 

On Friday, the Bern city government published a 15-page evaluation report on the event, which it described as “generally positive”. 

The race had also sparked debate about electric mobility and new technologies, thus raising public awareness, it said. 

While the planning had gone well, it said the route close to the historic Old Town was, in retrospect, “clearly too ambitious”. 

Starting on Laubeggstrasse, the race drivers drove past the Rosengarten park and then down to the Bärengraben (bear pit) with views over the River Aare and Old Town. They finished the circuit up the Grosser Muristalden towards Schosshalde. 

The government said the race track had also been too narrow and some inhabitants had felt trapped. Grand stands built had been too big and public transport had not functioned correctly due to the race. It added that two weeks before the race, the organisers had not kept to agreements, and residents and businesses had been insufficiently informed. 

Ahead of the race, critics had complained that the event would be harmful to the environment, with hundreds of trucks arriving in Bern to set up track and thousands of spectators probably driving to the event. Opponents also criticised sponsorship of the electric car race by the oil producer Saudi Arabia. 

Around 1,000 demonstrators made their point by cycling around the race track on the streets of Bern two days before it started. The protest was peaceful, but some posters and banners advertising the race were ripped down. The organisers of the Julius Baer Swiss E-Prix car race filed a complaint against the acts of vandalism, which they estimated had cost them CHF400,00 ($402,000).

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