Mahindra Racing’s Alexander Sims is due a surreal return to the ExCeL London at this weekend’s 2021 Heineken London E-Prix in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship – the Londoner having last visited the venue to indulge a different passion.
The races will return more than five years (1,847 days) since London last hosted top-flight international motorsport with the former Battersea-based E-Prix while last year’s scheduled return was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Formula E’s Battersea races were the first motorsport since 1972 at the now disused Crystal Palace Racetrack – but the Championship now embarks to a different home at the ExCeL London with a bespoke world-first indoor/outdoor circuit.
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This is the first major event taking place at the ExCeL London since the location was repurposed as a Nightingale Hospital and Vaccination Centre during the pandemic.
And Clapham-born Sims, one of seven British drivers to compete this weekend including Championship leader Sam Bird, will feature in his first ever race in his home city – something he still cannot quite believe.
“I have been to the ExCeL as a punter – for Grand Designs live – but to be racing there is a really cool prospect,” said the 33-year-old ahead of the weekend. “It was never on my radar as a possibility to race here.
“When Formula E raced in Battersea Park it was a first glimpse at what might happen. Of course, I didn’t think then that I would be in Formula E but now that I am – and we are going back to London which is really cool.”
Sims and his fellow Brits go into the weekend chasing a British World Championship leader after Jaguar Racing’s Bird delivered an impressive lights-to-flag victory in the previous round in New York City.
Meanwhile, two British teams – Jaguar Racing and Envision Virgin Racing – will also be on home turf for the event and both Sims’ team Mahindra Racing and NIO 333 feature all-British driver line-ups.
Sims himself has had a mixed season since joining Indian manufacturer Mahindra for Season 7 of the all-electric racing series. A solid 7th place from the first race of the season in Saudi Arabia at the Diriyah E-Prix, the first night race in the Championship’s history, was followed up by a podium in Round 4 at the Rome E-Prix.
However, Sims has managed just two points-scoring races since and says for that reason he will be focusing on the job in hand rather than give too much thought to the spectacle when the lights go green on Saturday.
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He added: “I wouldn’t say I have [earmarked London as a key race], at the end of the day it scores the same number of points as any other race. I try to remind myself that I can’t go there with extra excitement, trying extra hard or putting more emphasis on the result than anywhere else.
“When you try harder and try to force it – it doesn’t go well. We are approaching it the same as any other race weekend, just go through the processes to try and get the best result.”
You can catch all the highlights from both races at the 2021 Heineken London E-Prix on Eurosport 2 from 19:30 BST Saturday 24 & Sunday 25 July.
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