Formula E

Formula E race was a remarkable first that Hong Kong should be proud of

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 October, 2016, 5:24pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 October, 2016, 11:10pm

We refer to Peter Kammerer’s opinion piece on the recent Formula E weekend (“Thrills and spills? Not at the Hong Kong Formula E races”, October 10).

The writer does violence to a global sporting event and trivialises the pride of our city into a personal rant. He laments Hong Kong’s waning attractiveness to world-class sports events, yet denigrates the Formula E event on assertions of lacklustre star power, speed appeal and TV viewership.

The writer lays blame on our government, whose support of the city’s inaugural motorsport event threatens to gridlock traffic and conflicts with his preference for mass transportation.

The Formula E series is organised by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the global motorsport governing body and organiser of leading events including Formula One, the World Endurance Championship and the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC).

The series launched its current season with Hong Kong, whose circuit earned FIA accreditation – a remarkable feat for a motorsport ingénue. It then goes to Paris, New York, Berlin and other major cities, supported by some of the biggest automotive industry names.

While the author complains about a “lack of big name[s],” the rest of the world counts eight F1 drivers, two Le Mans champions, one reigning triple WTCC champion, plus winners of the World Endurance Championship, the DTM series and F3.

Formula E is in the third year; to compare it with Formula One in the seventh decade, and levy judgment based on TV viewership in an online age is absurd.

The author criticises our city’s inability to attract marquee events, but ignores the 1,000-plus top-tier motorsport professionals who visited. Add to that the global press and the 21,000 local and international spectators, and the event’s relevance is self-explanatory.

The account of a city under siege, in gridlock for weeks, cannot be farther from the truth. Virtually all major roads in Central continued to function normally through late Friday.

Disruption during the event was minimal, with no congestion to speak of, and indoor parking at the two nearest locations unaffected. Best of all, the roads were reopened before midnight on Monday.

Formula E Hong Kong is a bold endeavour which has been years in the making. It embodies the efforts of thousands who seek to put our city on the map of international motorsport. That these endeavours found success should be our collective pride. Motorsport fan or otherwise, the people of Hong Kong have accomplished more today than a week ago.

Antares Au on behalf of HK Racing Drivers Club