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Formula E 2016-17

Large electricity bill: losses for Hong Kong Formula E race could reach HK$50 million

The city kicks off the third season of the electric-powered series with a two day event at the 1.8 kilometre Central Harbourfront circuit this weekend

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 October, 2016, 7:33pm
UPDATED : Friday, 07 October, 2016, 11:23pm

This weekend’s inaugural Formula E race in Hong Kong could rack up losses of up to HK$50 million, but local organisers are determined to establish the event as a top-class international race, according to top official Lawrence Yu Kam-kee.

Hong Kong kicks off the third season of the electric-powered series with a two day event at the 1.8 kilometre Central Harbourfront circuit, where drivers can reach top speeds of 200km/h on the 555 metre main straight on Lung Wo Road.

Almost 22,000 tickets have been sold with 20 drivers from 10 teams ready to compete in the only race in Asia this season.

Yu said local organisers would probably need to inject HK$150 million into the venture in its first year.

Another HK$100 million would come from Formula E Holdings, which has signed a 25-year deal with the sport’s governing body to run the competition worldwide, while the two main sponsors have contributed HK$50 million.

“Just the hardware construction in Hong Kong, such as the paddock, control tower and other auxillary facilities has cost HK$80 million, and there are also budgets for promotion and other operational costs,” said Yu.

Watch: A lap of the Hong Kong circuit

“Fortunately, we have also secured two major sponsors and we are confident more from the commercial sector will support us after watching a successful first year.”

Hong Kong signed a three-year agreement as one of the two venues in Greater China, but became the only one following Beijing’s decision not to continue after staging races for the last two years.

“There are many reasons Beijing pulled out of the circuit, but it doesn’t mean Formula E cannot return to China,” said Yu.

“As far as I know, other cities such as Hangzhou, Suzhou and Guangzhou are also interested in joining us. For these fast developing cities, they have the financial strength to run the event, as long as FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) gives its endorsement.

Formula E organisers to set up screens outside Hong Kong venue to block views for non-ticket holders

“In fact, many of the Formula E Holdings sponsors are from China as manufacturing of electric-powered vehicles is virtually an untapped market in the mainland.

“It can be an excellent opportunity for Chinese companies to promote their products if one day they can win the Formula E championship.”

For Yu, who completed his third term as president of the Hong Kong Automobile Association (HKAA) last month, it has been a long-overdue dream come true.

The HKAA is the sanctioning body in Hong Kong governing motor sport activities and also provides technical support for neighbouring territories in staging races, such as the Macau Grand Prix.

Traffic jams and disruption promised in Central as Hong Kong hosts its first Formula E race

“We have finally made it after striving for so long to bring a top-class motor racing event to Hong Kong,” said Yu.

“We faced a lot of difficulties, especially in soliciting commercial sponsors, but then, this is only the first time.

“Hong Kong is a global city, a central hub in Asia and only an international race of this calibre can live up to expectations.

“That’s why we intend to make the Formula E an annual extravaganza here, more than just a sporting event, but a carnival that can attract people from all walks of life and tourists from overseas.”