HKT Hong Kong E-Prix out to electrify once again with ultimate urban street racing2019/03/08
The 2019 HKT Formula E Hong Kong E-Prix is set to supercharge Hong Kong once again when 22 world-class drivers from 11 teams take to the city’s iconic Harbourfront street circuit on Sunday, March 10.
Hong Kong fans will be the first in Asia to experience the debut of the Formula E Gen2 car, which has nearly double the range and energy storage of the previous car. With no mid-race car swap, a new team on the grid in the HWA RACELAB, and Nissan e.dams replacing Renault, fans can expect more action on track than ever before in what has already been a thrilling Season 5 on this innovative international circuit.
Four drivers have claimed top spot on the podium heading into round 5 in Hong Kong with Mahindra Racing’s Jerome D’Ambrosio leading the drivers’ standings after claiming his first podium in five years of Formula E racing after a thrilling finish in round 2 in Marrakesh.
Portugal’s Antonio Felix Da Costa, a familiar face for local fans after twice winning the Macau Grand Prix, is in second in the standings after a hot start, winning the opening leg – and the first Formula E E-Prix in Saudi Arabia – and claiming the Julius Baer Pole Position for a total of 28 points.
Matters then got more challenging for da Costa, who failed finish the next two legs, with D’Ambrosio winning in Morocco and Envision Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird taking the chequered flag in Santiago, Chile, at what was the hottest ever Formula E race, with temperatures reaching 45 degrees Celsius. The excitement continued in Mexico City with Sebastian Buemi claiming his first podium of the season after coming right down the homestretch for the win.
D’Ambrosio leads the Drivers Championship on 53 points, ahead of Da Costa (46) and Bird (45), with Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler driver Lucas di Grassi in fourth on 34 points while Mahindra’s Pascal Wehrlein in fifth on 30 points.
Mahindra Racing are top of the pops in the team championship with 83 points, ahead of nearest challengers Envision Virgin Racing (73) and BMW I Andretti Motorsport (64). China’s DS Techeetah team is in fourth with 57 points, just one point ahead of fifth placed Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler (56).
This weekend’s race marks the 50th Formula E E-Prix staged since the inception of the Championship in 2014. Five of the participating drivers this weekend have been involved in every race including, (in order of points scored), di Grassi (645), Bird (501), Daniel Abt (309), d’Ambrosio (289) and Nelson Piquet Jr (237).
Nelson Piquet Jr commented on the feat and the growth of Formula E saying, “It has grown a lot. It is every year attracting better drivers, better engineers, better teams and bigger sponsors, more cities. Hopefully it stays humble. We want it to be an open sport in allowing people to access to it more.”
The Brazilian is one of the fan favourites in Hong Kong and while hoping to “still be here and winning more races five years from now,” he is more focussed on how he and fellow Panasonic Jaguar driver Mitch Evans would go on the starting grid, as they look to climb out of seventh place on the 11-team standings.
“The car is performing ok, it can always be a bit better of course. We need to score this weekend. We need to finish in the top 5; that is our aim, our goal here.”
He returns the affection for Hong Kong as well, adding that he loves “coming to this part of the world. I love shopping and eating here and it is a place that I can come to early and enjoy the city a bit,” he added.
Three different winners have won the three races held in Hong Kong previously, with three different pole sitters in those races as well. Despite Audi Sport ABT Scheffler having won in nine different Formula E locations, the team has never managed to make it in Hong Kong, although Audi’s Daniel Abt took the chequered flag here last season before he was later disqualified. With that haunting memory, the team will be looking to set the record straight this time.
The challenging Harbourfront track remains unchanged with 10 turns and two hairpins, but race strategy has intensified thanks to the new ‘Attack Mode’, another on-track innovation that will impress speed lovers in 2019.
Activated via special zones on the track, drivers will be able to access 225 kW power in Attack Mode with spectators seeing which drivers are in mode through the futuristic illuminated LED Halos on the vehicles.
With the new Gen2 car, Attack Mode and the ever-popular Fanboost, speed lovers are in for a treat. The fastest lap in Hong Kong in 2017 was 1.03.002s in the practice session ahead of Race 2; with the more powerful Gen2 car ready to rumble, fans should expect that lap record to tumble in 2019.