'Hong Kong will become most beautiful race of Formula E calendar' - the HK$300m vision for massive event
Organisers expect the city to become the jewel in the crown of the world's first international series for electric-powered open-wheeled cars
They have the circuit, they have the series and they have the all-important government backing, now organisers of Hong Kong's first major international race - a leg of the Formula E series - will seek up to HK$300 million to stage what could evolve into the city's biggest sporting event.
Lawrence Yu Kam-kee, president of the Hong Kong Automobile Association and a prime mover behind the race, said at yesterday's launch - attended by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying - that organisers would work with the FIA Formula E Championship, the government and potential sponsors to turn Central's harbourfront into a huge party zone exactly one year from now and "bring racing to the people".
"For the Hong Kong government, it's a drop in the bucket. They will provide us with the circuit, although it still requires a lot of effort to turn a normal street into a full-fledged racing circuit," said Yu, who expects a crowd of 20,000 to watch the Hong Kong ePrix on October 9, 2016.
"In terms of bringing cars over to Hong Kong, the preparation required and other costs, my guess is HK$250 million to HK$300 million. Formula One costs a lot more.
"[Parent company] Formula E Holdings and the organisers will be responsible for the costs, with full support from the government and Tourism Board, which will drive the promotion campaign. Also, at the request of the government, we hope to make the tickets reasonably priced, so that the public can enjoy the race."
Formula E recently completed its inaugural season with former F1 driver Nelson Piquet Jnr winning the title by one point. The series uses entirely electric cars that can reach speeds of 230km/h.
The 2.2km Hong Kong circuit features 10 corners with Formula E expecting the city to become the jewel of the series, which also includes races in Beijing, Malaysia, United States and United Kingdom.
Alejandro Agag, chief executive of Formula E Holdings, said the race was a dream come true.
"I think Hong Kong will become the most beautiful race of the Formula E calendar," said Agag. "We race all over the world, in London, Moscow, Los Angeles and other parts of the globe, but nowhere in the planet can you find a race with the backdrop that we have here in Hong Kong."
Chief Executive Leung said: "We provide the perfect setting. There are many harbour cities in the world, but I have yet to find another harbour city like Hong Kong in the sense that it is like the Chinese embroidery Suzhou, which you can enjoy from both sides - from the Hong Kong Island side and Kowloon side.
Piquet Jnr is looking forward to the race. "Hong Kong is such an amazing city, it's an amazing event and it's an amazing announcement that we're going to be racing here in a year."