By Alan Baldwin
LONDON (Reuters) - Formula E's decision to race for the first time at a permanent circuit away from the confines of a city is understandable due to the COVID-19 pandemic but cannot become the norm, Venturi team boss Susie Wolff said on Thursday.
The all-electric series published a Season Seven calendar update with Valencia's Ricardo Tormo circuit now hosting the fourth round on April 24.
The track, a regular MotoGP venue 26km from the eastern Spanish city, has been used before for pre-season testing.
Wolff said she was supportive of racing there, because it was important to get momentum and establish a fixed calendar, but was wary of the precedent it might set.
"Let’s hope we don’t slide too much into going to normal racetracks... I hope Valencia is just a one-off in order to cope with the challenging circumstances that COVID has presented to us all," she told Reuters.
"Formula E is city centre racing. It's racing with a purpose, we're showing electric mobility and what the future is.
"I most certainly wouldn't be in favour of going to (permanent) racetracks in the future... the DNA of Formula E is city centre tracks."
Mexico City's E-Prix, currently on hold, uses a permanent facility but the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, which also hosts the Formula One Grand Prix, is in the sprawling capital and easily accessible by public transport.
Wolff recognised the third round of the season scheduled for Rome could end up at the Vallelunga circuit, 32km to the north, if the pandemic ruled out racing in the streets of the capital's EUR district.
The championship will start in Saudi Arabia on Feb. 26-27 and the final races have yet to be confirmed, with China and South Korea postponed while Paris is cancelled.
Wolff said preparing for the campaign had been a huge organisational and logistical challenge for her Monaco-based team, with restrictions on movement and travel constantly changing.
Getting the team to Saudi Arabia would be no easy matter, with commercial flights changing every day and teams looking to charters instead.
"We have to depart with a negative test, 48 hours in quarantine and you're again tested and another 12 hours to wait for your result. So you need to plan for 60 hours upon landing before you can get to the racetrack," said Wolff.
"But we've had a long spell with no racing and I do think everyone's very keen and motivated to get out there and finally start the season.
"Then we just need to get everyone home safely and hope there's not too many extra travel restrictions in place."
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)