Green light withheld for Formula E street race as route goes under review
The chief executive and his government may have to take a holiday during the Hong Kong leg of the Formula E electric racing series next year so that the race can go ahead as planned.
The International Automobile Federation (FIA) has withheld the green light to the proposed race route through the streets of Central after it failed to reach an agreement with parties, including the government.
"The FIA technical committee said our route was perhaps the best among the 10 cities in the inaugural season of the series, but we couldn't reach an agreement with all parties, including the government, as there were some concerns raised, especially about one section near the government offices in Tamar," said Lawrence Yu Kam-kee, president of the Automobile Association, which is in charge of organising the Hong Kong leg of the race.
"That section of the road blocks the exit of the government complex, making it difficult for people going in and out.
"And even though the race is on a Sunday, the government works, especially the big man [Leung Chun-ying] himself. Unless they take helicopters, it will be difficult to include this stretch of road in the route."
This resulted in the race route being shortened from 2.6 kilometres to 2.1 kilometres, Yu said, adding that the FIA technical committee would return next month to study the revamped route and to see if Hong Kong met all other requirements before signing off on the paperwork.
"The committee has first to approve the route before we can take the next step to organise the race, look at television coverage, and so on," he said yesterday.
Last month, the FIA released a 10-race provisional calendar for the electric racing series, in which Hong Kong is the third leg of the 2014-15 race, with other destinations including Los Angeles, London, Monte Carlo and Berlin.
The series is due to start in Beijing with 10 teams of two drivers each, competing in races with two pit stops to swap cars.
"Once the technical details have been worked out with the route - for instance, we cannot have a route shorter than two kilometres and the road has to be 10 metres wide with only 10 per cent of it allowed to be less than that width, with seven metres being the minimum - we can then go full steam ahead with the other aspects of the race," Yu said. "The government has been very helpful and accommodating, and I hope that with these minor alterations to the race route, the FIA will give us the green light."