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Formula E

Felipe Massa can make Formula E’s next season ‘most electrifying yet’, says Hong Kong E-Prix chief

The former Ferrari and Williams driver is set to line up on the Central Harbourfront grid at the start of season five in December, after making the switch to all-electric racing series

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 May, 2018, 5:38pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 May, 2018, 10:45pm

Hong Kong motorsport fans are in for a treat when Formula E returns later this year, with Felipe Massa making the switch to the all-electric racing series.

One of the world’s most experienced drivers, Massa spent 15 seasons in Formula One with Sauber, Ferrari and Williams, and will join the Venturi Formula E team for the 2018-19 season which is slated to kick off on Central Harbourfront in December.

“It is fantastic news that motor racing superstar Felipe Massa will become part of the FIA Formula E Championship family next season,” said Alan Fang, CEO of Formula Electric Racing Hong Kong Limited.

“With 11 grand prix victories on the F1 circuit, Massa will add even more firepower to the dynamic and world-class list of drivers in Formula E.”

Massa started 270 grands prix with 16 poles, 41 podium finishes and a runner-up finish to Lewis Hamilton in the 2008 world championship.

The 37-year-old, whose new team is co-owned by actor Leonardo DiCaprio, is the latest ex-F1 driver to join Formula E, following in the footsteps of Jean-Eric Vergne, Sebastien Buemi, Lucas di Grassi and Nelson Piquet Jnr.

“I’m very happy to be joining the Venturi Formula E Team and the Formula E championship, which has become a magnificent competition in such a short space of time,” said Massa, who retired from F1 in 2017.

“For some years now, I’ve been clear about my interest in this innovative, forward-looking discipline that’s developing exponentially. I especially like the format of race meetings, the city-centre circuits and the contact with the fans. I can’t wait to take part in testing.

“Gildo [Pastor, Venturi president] has always been a step ahead when it comes to high-performance electricity vehicles. The team is in a phase of growth and development. I’ll do everything I can to contribute to the project and hopefully I’ll be among the front runners.”

Massa has signed a three-year deal with the Monaco-based team, and will take part in a private testing session later this month.

Season five will see Formula E roll out the series’ next generation “Gen2” car, starting with the opening race in December, which has a 90 per cent chance or returning to Hong Kong, according to a senior official.

“With Japanese brand Nissan entering a team as well, next season is shaping up to be the most electrifying one yet,” added Fang.

“As the organisers of the Hong Kong stop, we are delighted to see the continued growth of the FIA Formula E Championship and look forward to bringing our fans a fantastic electric vehicle racing experience.”

The signing of Massa means an uncertain future for Maro Engel and Edoardo Mortara, Venturi’s drivers in season four of Formula E, which is still in progress.

With the drivers backed by Mercedes, one or both could move to the HWA AG racing team, a Mercedes specialist which is joining the Formula E grid for season five.

“It’s an honour to welcome Felipe to the Venturi family,” said Pastor. “I needed him, his experience, his speed, and his openness.

“Formula E is extremely complex to set up and drive. Even more so than in other disciplines, teamwork between the driver and the engineering team is one of the keys to success.

“Felipe’s 15 years’ experience in Formula 1 will definitely give us a boost. And with his humble nature, I know he will listen to the team and master the discipline quickly.”