Formula E is a 90 per cent chance to return to Hong Kong in 2018 despite another big deficit, says senior official
Lawrence Yu, who brought the race to Hong Kong last year, defends ticket prices as double-header drives more income
The HKT Hong Kong E-Prix track will extend next year but ticket prices are unlikely to come down as organisers anticipate a big deficit from the weekend’s double header, senior official Lawrence Yu Kam-kee said.
Yu, who brought the race to Hong Kong last year, defended ticket prices, which have been under fire from fans after a seat in the grandstand came in at between HK$2,380 and HK$2,880, or up to HK$4,780 for a two-day ticket.
“We had a double-header this time which opens more income but still the organisers are facing a big deficit,” he said.
“There are limited spectator seats in Hong Kong compared to many other stops as physically it is difficult to find more space. In fact, we know motor racing is an expensive sport and the cost of running a formula race is huge.
“Unless the government is willing to underwrite it with tax payer’s money, there is little we can do as organisers.
“The double-header format is also likely to continue if we are to host it again next year as it can explore more income which is pivotal to the continuity of the race in Hong Kong.”
The race delivered a deficit close to HK$50 million last year but Yu said the financial situation had improved for 2017 as they obtained more income through the double-header while also saving funds by using much of the set-up from the first event.
Yu did not give details of the deficit for 2017 but in all likelihood the figure would be over HK$10 million. About 87 per cent of the grandstand tickets were sold this year, while 20,000 free tickets for the E-village were distributed after it was charged at HK$300 in 2016.
Yu also said the race would have to meet the required circuit length in its third season, especially with an expected arrival of car manufacturers BMW and Nissan in 2018.
“There is 90 per cent [chance] the race will return to Hong Kong next year and in fact the FIA rules require a circuit length of 2.4 kilometres for E-Prix races,” said Yu, the governor of the Hong Kong Automobile Association.
“There has been an interim measure over the last two years but with more cars expected on the track next year, we need to meet the standard.
“We are talking with government officials about the plan and hopefully it can be resolved as soon as possible as we are planning for the 2018 event.
“There are three different directions the track can be expanded but we can’t disclose more details as discussion is ongoing.
“We have invited many government officials to the event this year including the Chief Executive [Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor] and they should be impressed by the work we have done, which should help the new circuit plan.”
The challenging harbourfront circuit in Central reaches 1.86 kilometres with 10 turns, including hairpins at turn one and turn six and a 555m main straight along Lung Wo Road.
“The Hong Kong organisers’ two-year deal with Formula E Holdings just concluded but plans for 2018 have begun.
“The Hong Kong E-prix is so successful that it has become a showcase event of the sport all over the world. I can’t see any reason of not keeping it as one of the major events on the Hong Kong sports calendar,” said Yu.