The wider benefits of hosting the Formula E race
The inaugural Hong Kong ePrix was not without problems but with modifications, it can have multiple advantages for our city
The idea of Hong Kong hosting a motorsport event on its narrow and congested streets seems far-fetched. Yet the Formula E championship held in the heart of Central last weekend left sceptics confounded. While the two-day spectacle drew mixed reactions in terms of logistics, ticket sales and the impact on traffic, it was nonetheless deemed a success. With some adjustments and better coordination, the event can enrich city life and add to our credentials as a tourism hub.
Thanks to the live broadcast of the annual Macau Grand Prix, car racing is of course not a novelty to locals. Yet seeing our own streets turned into a racing track is still a refreshing experience. Even if you are not a fan of motorsport, the sight of colourful and powerful cars racing along our streets with the backdrop of our world-famous skyline is simply spectacular. What’s more special is that there is no thundering noise of combustion engines and the pungent smell of petrol like in Formula One racing.
There is certainly room for improvement, though. The steep ticket price for the grandstand is an example. To justify the HK$2,000 cost, veils were put up on nearby footbridges to prevent people from catching a glimpse of the action for free. Some who paid the HK$300 entrance fee to the eVillage carnival on the waterfront complained they could only watch the race on a giant electronic screen.
The event was promoted as one that combines energy, entertainment and the promotion of a clean environment. The ePrix is no doubt eco-friendly, and not just because the vehicles are emission free. Its innovations also have the potential to trickle down and benefit the electric car industry. It will, however, take more than one racing competition for the green message to sink in. Nonetheless it is a symbolic move for the city to embrace Formula E, especially when the momentum for adopting more electric vehicles appears to be slowing. With better promotion and improvements, the city stands to benefit from hosting more eco-friendly international spectacles.