Formula E

Formula E organisers want Hong Kong to be first city to stage support race

HKAA chief Lawrence Yu says he wants October’s ePrix in Hong Kong to be unique

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 March, 2016, 6:55pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 March, 2016, 11:52am

A first for Hong Kong and now possibly a first for the Formula E global circuit. Hong Kong wants to become the first city in Formula E’s short history to stage a support race, designed for up-and-coming drivers.

Lawrence Yu Kam-kee, president of the Hong Kong Automobile Association and one of the prime movers behind the race, said the Central street circuit could see the series’ first-ever support race featuring electric-powered saloon cars.

“We want to be the first to do this,” said Yu. “This is one of the things we’d like to do to make Hong Kong a unique race.

We want to be the first to do this. This is one of the things we’d like to do to make Hong Kong a unique race
Lawrence Yu

“There are plenty of young drivers who would like the chance to compete on a proper circuit in front of spectators. We want the Hong Kong race to be a big party for everyone.”

The Hong Kong ePrix is scheduled for October 9 on a specially designed 2.2-kilometre street circuit on the Central harbourfront.

Hong Kong will kick off the 2016-17 FIA-sanctioned competition – the third year of the series. Former Formula One driver Nelson Piquet Jnr, of Brazil, won the inaugural series while Switzerland’s Sebastien Buemi leads this season’s event after four out of 11 races.

Watch highlights from the Putrajaya ePrix in Malaysia

Organisers – HKAA and series parent company Formula E Holdings – expect the Hong Kong race to cost up to HK$300 million and are hoping to building facilities catering to about 40,000 fans.

Yu said the HKAA is still awaiting word from the government on the space available in Central before spectator capacity can be confirmed.

He said last year when the event was launched that ticket prices would be affordable. However, select VIP tickets will cost more than HK$10,000 each, giving holders access to executive seating where they will be wined and dined, apart from watching the action.

“This price cannot be changed,” said Yu. “VIP ticket price is the same for all races on the circuit.”

Last month, Alan Fang, chief executive officer with Formula Electric Racing (Hong Kong), said the cheapest ticket will cost less than HK$500, while grandstand tickets are likely to go for more than HK$1,000 each.

Watch Nelson Piquet Jnr at October’s announcement of the Hong Kong ePrix

An eVillage, with a giant screen, will also be erected for budget ticket holders.

A key part of the Formula E experience, according to Yu, is the after-race party, in which the public are encouraged to join.

Yu is keen to make Hong Kong the jewel in the crown of the Formula E series, just like Asian rival Singapore is one of the highlights of the Formula One circuit.

Singapore has revolutionised the way F1 races are staged, bringing in top artistes and performers for a week of entertainment and racing. The fact that Singapore is also a night race adds value.

“It will be great if we can make this Formula E race Hong Kong’s answer to the Singapore Grand Prix,” said Yu.

The Formula E circuit is proving to be a popular series among fans as F1 struggles with rule changes and diminishing appeal.

The competition features a number of drivers who are either on the fringes of F1 or who had previously driven at the elite level.

Apart from Piquet and Buemi, the series can boast Germany’s Nick Heidfeld and Bruno Senna, the nephew of late three-time world champion Aryton.

Beijing, Putrajaya in Malaysia, Punte del Este (Uruguay) and Buenos Aires (Argentina) have staged races this season, with Mexico City next on March 12.