After one of the greatest races in Formula E history last time out, I’m hoping for more of the same, as the all-electric series celebrates a landmark 50th race in Hong Kong.
Taking place in the heart of a city known as the ‘Pearl of the Orient’, it’s no surprise the Hong Kong race has quickly become one of motorsport’s jewel in the crown events.
And whilst the 1.860km circuit may not hold the same history as Monaco or Macau, this city centre track is undoubtedly alongside them as one of the best street races in global motorsport.
Nestled in between Wan Chai and Central, the testing 10-turn circuit winds its way around Victoria Harbour, taking in city icons including the Hong Kong Observation Wheel and Finance Centre, while the city’s towering skyscrapers shimmer in the background.
The tight circuit guarantees incidents and accidents, but the race will do well to match the drama of the previous E-Prix, when the lights go green at 8.00am UK time on Sunday morning.
The action in Mexico City was breathless from lights to flag, with a dramatic crash early in the race and Lucas di Grassi undertaking Pascal Wehrlein right at death to claim a jaw-dropping victory literally on the finish line.
Whilst that will go down as one of the best races in the sport’s history, this weekend’s Hong Kong E-Prix marks the 50th that Formula E has staged, with the ABB FIA Formula E Championship visiting 20 different cities across five continents since it began in 2014
Boss Alejandro Agag revealed this week that when he launched Formula E, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone warned him that ‘you will never make your first race’.
But what started as little more than an idea scribbled on the back of a napkin, has become the fastest growing motorsport series in the world, and proved critics like Ecclestone wrong.
One of those 20 race cities is London and it was great to see the capital return to the Formula E calendar this week, with the announcement of a long-term deal to stage a double-header season finale from next July.
I was at the first two races in London and the city crowd embraced the excitement like London normally does. Battersea Park was alive with race enthusiasts and new fans. Watching the drivers up close, it was clear that they had arrived to put on a spectacle for the public. London felt innovative again, like something special was starting. Now it returns.
The new race will take place around a first-of-its-kind indoor and outdoor track at ExCel London, with an indoor stadium section combined with a street race around London’s Docklands. It should be a fantastic spectacle – especially if it rains!
Without the burden of history and tradition, Formula E is not afraid to take risks to win new fans, and I think this innovative East London event will bring a whole new audience to motorsport, just as we’re trying to do on Formula E’s live YouTube show Voltage.
Whilst I’ll be presenting the action online this weekend, it’s also great to see Formula E televised on BBC2 for the first time – which is potentially a landmark moment for the sport going fully mainstream in the UK.
With five British drivers on the grid – including Sam Bird, who won in Hong Kong last season – there’s every chance that UK viewers could be starting their Sunday morning by hearing God Save The Queen on the top of the podium.
- Watch Voltage – via the official Formula E YouTube channel – live from 7.30am on Sunday. The HKT Hong Kong E-Prix is also live on BBC2 from 7.30am, with the race at 08.00am.
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