The Formula E Championship has succeeded where many others – from Formula One to DTM – have failed, by hosting a race on the streets of Moscow. The announcement of the additional race in June 2015 was something of a coup for the race organisers and the chosen location certainly has a memorable backdrop.
Located in the shadow of the Kremlin, the track was a late addition to the schedule, only being confirmed in February 2015 after a planned race in Rio de Janeiro fell through. Despite some difficulties in getting the track set up in the lead-up to the race, it was a largely successful affair, with Sebastian Buemi being among those to single it out for praise.
Somewhat surprisingly, it proved to be a one-off. Despite being listed on the 2016-17 season calendar, the event was cancelled a month before the race when unforeseen circumstances related to road closures meant the circuit could not be set up.
The Formula E race followed a number of demonstration events held within the city, including a run in 2011 by the French EF01 Formulec electric racing car. This course was located in a similar area of the city to the ePrix but stretched further down the riverside alongside the walls of the Kremlin and also crossed the river.
When Rio's planned E-Prix fell apart in December 2014, Formula E bosses began frantic negotiations for a replacement round. Moscow had been mooted as a host city for some time, but with new urgency to confirm an event, talks accelerated. In February 2015, it was announced that the series would be coming to the Russian capital for the first time on 6 June.
The location for the circuit itself was certainly spectacular. Located in the shadow of the Kremlin, it started alongside the Moskva River before circling the site of the former Rossiya Hotel – a gigantic unloved Soviet-era monolith that was once the largest hotel in the world before being demolished in 2007. During the lap the cars also took in Staraya Square, home to the former headquarters of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, now used as the offices of the Presidential Administration of Russia.
Among the other famous buildings the racers sped by were the Gostiny Dvor merchant hall (now a fashionable exhibition centre); the iconic St Basil's Cathedral with its colourful spires; and the imposing walls of the Kremlin, making this one of the most memorable street circuits in the world.
The lap itself ran in an anti-clockwise direction from the start line, taking the cars along the northern bank of the river to the 90-degree Turn 1 left-hander. This led onto a long straight which headed into the sweeping Turn 2 right-hander, before hard braking into Turn 3. Here the circuit turn left through 90 degrees before a similar corner at Turn 4, followed the slightly more open radius Turn 5 right-hand corner.
The lap then opened out along the curving Turn 6 and onto a short straight ending the circuit's only right-left-right chicane, dropping slightly downhill. Turn 10, a long left hand curve, then followed, leading into the switchback hairpin sections of Turns 11 and 12. A short straight then lead to the final corner, a 90-degree left hander.
Nelson Piquet Jr was the first and only winner of the Moscow ePrix, after he took the lead at the first turn diving inside pole sitter Jean-Eric Vergne. The Brazilian sprinted to a good lead, which he only lost briefly during the pit stop phase, before regaining the head of the field and cruising to victory.
And that proved to the be that, with the planned return visit in 2016 never getting off the ground. The Russian ePrix was gone as quickly as it had arrived and today there is very little sign on the streets that it ever took place.
This is a historic circuit which is no longer in operation.
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The Moscow ePrix was located in the heart of Moscow's historic centre, next to the Kremlin and St Basil's Cathedral. International flights into Moscow arrive at one of two airports – Domodedovo or Sheremetyevo – and there are good public transport links to the city centre.
Finding where the race took place should not be difficult, located as it was in the heart of the historic and tourist-friendly part of the city. Getting about the city should also be straightforward as Moscow is served by an extensive transit network, which includes nine railway terminals, numerous trams, a monorail system and one of the deepest underground metro systems in the world, the Moscow Metro.
Tickets on the Moscow cost R40 for one journey anywhere within the system. A block of 20 tickets costs R500. The extensive bus, tram and trolleybus system is just as cheap. There are no English-language signs in the metro, so count the stops to make sure you get off at the right place.