Formula E: Hong Kong could be dropped from 2020 calendar if organisers fail to extend circuit
- FIA warns Hong Kong organisers they won’t issue licence if conditions aren’t met
- Track must be stretched to 2.2 kilometres, with chicanes beyond tunnel being considered
The Hong Kong E-Prix could be dropped from the Formula E calendar next year if organisers are unable to extend the circuit to the required length strictly laid down by the governing body, a senior official has warned.
Organisers will host the third running of the electric car race in March along the 1.86-kilometre circuit in Central’s Harbourfront.
But a senior official has warned the annual showpiece might not happen after 2019 if conditions are not met by the FIA, the international motorsport federation. Formula E’s fifth season started at the Ad Diriyah E-Prix in Saudi Arabia last month with 22 cars.
“This is the last season that Hong Kong can continue with its existing circuit after an exemption was granted by the FIA,” Hong Kong Automobile Association governor Lawrence Yu Kam-kei said.
“They will need to extend it [the circuit] to 2.2 kilometres the following season, especially when two more teams are expected to enter the E-Prix [this year]. The existing circuit will be too crowded for the increased number of teams.”
Yu said organisers would need to sit down and come up with a solution with government authorities who deliver the road works to enable street racing.
With Hong Kong Station occupying the eastern end of the circuit, it would be extremely difficult to extend it on that side, leaving the western side a possible solution.
“We cannot close Hong Kong Station on the eastern side as the station links up with the airport,” Yu said. “The Lung Wo Road in fact runs all the way along the harbourfront to Wan Chai and if we can work out an extended route on that side, the problem may be solved.”
The existing circuit meets the first turn on Lung Wo Road before going into the tunnel at Tamar Park and Yu said they could do something to extend the route beyond the tunnel.
“The tunnel is considered too dangerous for the cars to be running at high speeds along a straight road before they enter the tunnel,” he added.
“But if we can design a chicane to slow the cars down before that, it may work. These are only some preliminary thoughts and we still have to study it carefully.”
Yu said organisers were licensed to stage two races in China and the Hong Kong leg on March 10 is one of them. The other round will take place in Sanya, Hainan Province on March 23, two weeks after the Hong Kong race.
“They can replace Hong Kong with another city if we fail to meet their requirements,” Yu said. “But of course we don’t want to lose this prestigious event with Hong Kong’s reputation as Asia’s event capital on the line and it has been staged so successfully over the last two seasons.”
Yu said the organisers are expecting an exciting season after motoring giant BMW entered as a manufacturer this year, with Mercedes and Porsche also planning to join the fray in season six when 13 teams are planning to compete.