The start to Season Five of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship looks increasingly likely to begin in Saudia Arabia this December.
A race in Riyadh is understood to have recently become a favorite to start the fifth season later this year on a street track to be specifically built by Formula E.
The nation has recently relaxed laws for entering the country, with tourist visas now available for the first time since 2010.
It has also made significant investments in recent years to kickstart a structured tourism industry and also to implement awareness of EV technology as it aims to rely less on its oil reserves.
Riyadh does have a permanent race track in the shape of the Reem International Circuit which has hosted mainly domestic GT3 racing since 2008.
However, a race on the streets of Riyadh is believed to be getting closer to an agreement and could take place on Dec. 8 to open the fifth season.
It is expected that the collaboration between the Saudi capital and Formula E will be a long-term one.
The provisional Season Five calendar is likely to also see an expanded Asian leg shifted from December to the early spring.
Hong Kong looks set host a third edition of its E-Prix in March 2019 forming an Asian double-header, with a race on the Chinese island of Hainan, which was revealed by e-racing365 in February.
A confirmation from the provincial government of Hainan was granted last month and is believed to have paved the way for a deal to race on the streets of its capital, Haikou.
“A lot is still open,” Formula E Founder and CEO Alejandro Agag told e-racing365 last month. “But it is pretty much sure that it [Hong Kong] will be in March.”
“We are going to wait probably until April to put something out and then we will present to the FIA World Council in June,” confirmed Agag.
It is not presently clear where and how a possible South American leg could fit into Season Five.
Formula E Holdings is in detailed discussions with Santiago about a second edition of a race in the city which is likely to use an alternative location to the Parque Forestal track which was raced on in February.
Additionally, a return to Buenos Aires is also being considered with meetings between Argentinian officials and Formula E having taken place at last month’s Punta del Este E-Prix.
The South American country is a significant market for many of the manufacturers racing in the series and a popular destination.
Also still to be finalised are races at the permanent circuits previously used by Formula E in Marrakesh and Mexico City.
However, it is believed that both are likely to take place in early 2019, with Marrakesh set to reprise its January date.
The European leg of Season Five is likely to start again in Rome, should the first event prove to be a success next weekend.
Events in Paris, Monaco, Zurich and a venue in Germany will make up the late spring and early summer fixtures.
A return to the Alexanderplatz circuit in downtown Berlin has been explored for a possible return, while a race in Munich is understood to still be a possibility.
A North American visit is again set to round out the season as New York City should keep its date in July.
Vancouver and Toronto have emerged as potential venues for Formula E to return to Canada after the issues surrounding the cancelled Montreal double-header this year.
This though is likely to be delayed by the ongoing action that Formula E is pursuing over Montreal reneging on its two year deal to host a race.
A to-be-announced event for late July could be on the provisional calendar when it is announced.
E-racing365 understands that Formula E has also carried out feasibility studies in to hosting races in Copenhagen, Budapest and Lisbon but that an actual E-Prix taking place in these cities is not likely until 2020 at the earliest.
A formal calendar, which is currently being finalized by Formula E Holdings, is set to be announced by the FIA at the World Motorsport Council meeting in June, which will be held in Manilla, Philippines.
What the Season Five Calendar Could Look Like
Riyadh E-Prix – Dec. 2018
Marrakesh E-Prix – Jan. 2019
Santiago E-Prix – Feb. 2019
Mexico City E-Prix – Feb. 2019
Hong Kong E-Prix – March 2019
Hainan E-Prix – March 2019
Rome E-Prix – April 2019
Paris E-Prix – April 2019
Monaco E-Prix – May 2019
Berlin E-Prix – May 2019
Zurich E-Prix 2019 – June 2019
New York E-Prix – July 2019
TBA – July 2019