Formula E confirmed for Hong Kong as streets of Central to become racetrack
New electric car series set to be held in Central next year after organisers initially abandoned plans - though 'details' remain to be finalised
Hong Kong has been confirmed by the International Automobile Federation (FIA) as a venue for the new Formula E electric racing series which will begin in Beijing next September.
The FIA has released a 10-race provisional calendar for 2014-15 with Hong Kong the third leg on November 8. The race is expected to be run on the streets of Central.
"We are delighted to announce that world-class motor-racing will come to Hong Kong for the first time," said Lawrence Yu Kam-kee, president of the Hong Kong Automobile Association (HKAA), yesterday. "It has taken a lot of work to get to where we are and we still have a long way to go to iron out details but I'm confident we'll have a race."
Other destinations include Los Angeles, Miami, Monte Carlo and Berlin with the series ending in London. The only other Asian city is Putrajaya, Malaysia.
"The promoters are working out the logistics for each city. They are in Beijing now and looking at a street circuit around the Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium. They will arrive in Hong Kong next month to look at possible venues for the course," Yu said.
Earlier this year Formula E organisers seemed to have given up on Hong Kong, apparently due to feet-dragging from the government on whether to give permission for the environmentally-friendly race - the electric cars will not only be pollution-free but also near silent. But those hurdles seem to have been overcome with Yu saying that the HKAA had got the go-ahead.
"Of course we still have to work out a lot of details from various government departments like the police, and get their cooperation. But in principle we have been told it is okay," Yu said.
Deputy secretary of Home Affairs Jonathan McKinley said that the government had had "preliminary discussions" with the HKAA. "We have talked about this briefly," he said. "If they have a confirmed route, and a plan, we would be all for it."
Formula E chief executive Alejandro Agag said there had been great demand from cities all over the world to host the new series.
"We have received formal offers from more than 25 cities all over the world making choosing just 10 very difficult indeed," said Agag. "Today's provisional calendar sees us race in the heart of some of the most well-known cities in the world providing a fantastic backdrop and showcasing electric vehicles in their favoured urban environments."
It is understood that streets near the government offices in Tamar are in pole position to host the race. That was the venue two years ago when Red Bull Racing brought its Formula One car for an exhibition display which drew crowds of more than 40,000.
"We know there is huge interest in motor racing in Hong Kong and we hope this will be the start of a long relationship, especially with the FIA," Yu said.
Night-racing has been ruled out as too expensive and all rounds will be one-day events, minimising disruption to host cities. There will be 10 teams, each with two drivers, competing in races with two pit-stops to swap cars. A race is expected to last an hour. To date, four teams have been announced, including one from China.