Formula E heads to Hong Kong for round five of what is shaping up to be an exciting and competitive season with four different winners in the opening four races so far.
As the streets of Hong Kong beckon, Harry Slade picks out five stories to following during this weekend’s Hong Kong E-Prix.
Formula E’s 50th race
While it only feels like yesterday that Formula E alumni Nick Heidfeld and Nico Prost had their now infamous aeroplane crash at the inaugural Beijing E-Prix back in 2014, the first race in the series’ history, many would be surprised to find out that this weekend’s Hong Kong E-Prix is, in fact, the 50th race in the history of the championship.
With an esteemed list of drivers taking to the grid for this weekend’s race, it’s fair to say the series has come a come along way in a short space of time. With multiple Formula 1 racer winners, Le Mans winners and WEC champions competing this year, only six of the current crop have the privilege of saying they are FE originals, namely Sam Bird, Daniel Abt, and Jerome d’Ambrosio plus former champions Nelson Piquet Jr, Sebastien Buemi, and Lucas Di Grassi.
Formula E’s first wet race
Motorsport’s leading electric category has had it all since it’s inception in 2014, with more than its fair share of action. However, one particular level of uncertainty has forever alluded the series – a wet race.
While this weekend won’t be the first time that rain has threatened a Formula E event, this may the first time that the threat remains through to the race, with forecasts predicting unrelenting rain throughout both Saturday and Sunday. If the wet conditions do come to fruition, it will be an interesting test for Formula E’s all-weather Michelin tyre that is designed to provide adequate grip in both wet and dry conditions.
DS Techeetah under pressure
Fourth in the championship on 57 points is hardly the catalyst for talk of a crisis, however, for Techeetah to say that this season has so far gone according to plan would be a stretch. Armed with the reigning series champion Jean-Eric Vergne as well as a driver who needs no introduction as far as his accolades in Andre Lotterer, the Chinese outfit was seen as one of the favourites for the season five crown.
This translated to what many would suggest was the fastest package as FE headed to Riyadh for the season-opener, but despite almost taking victory there, it simply seems to have been all downhill since, especially for defending champion Vergne. The Frenchman has shown continued speed throughout this season’s formative rounds, yet sits eighth in the standings, trailing his teammate as well as his title adversaries, and remarkably has just one front row start to show from four races.
His second-place finish at the season-opener in Ad-Diriyah remains Techeetah’s sole visit to the podium this season, so it is critical therefore for the team’s championship hopes that it returns to the front this weekend in Hong Kong.
Time to shine for Nissan e.dams
Another team that will feel like it has underachieved throughout the season’s early races will be Nissan. The Japanese outfit has shown flashes of speed, with pole position for Buemi in Santiago and a front row spot for rookie Oliver Rowland in Mexico City.
However, this has yet to translate to a podium either, with former series champion Buemi crashing in Santiago and gifting the win to Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird, while the team’s own miscalculation on battery usage robbed both drivers of a potential podium visit in Mexico. These various trials and tribulations have left the team languishing down in eighth in the championship, a far cry from its former successes under the Renault e.dams moniker.
Quite simply, it’s crunch time for Nissan, and if this season is going to be a successful one it needs to start delivering from now on. Hong Kong then is of the highest importance to Nissan, and a podium will be at the forefront of its ambitions.
Can HWA Racelab get off the bottom?
Formula E’s newest entity, HWA, has struggled to get on top of Formula E’s tricky second-generation cars. This has left it cut adrift at the foot of the table as the only team yet to score, and with a star-studded driver line-up comprising former F1 driver Stoffel Vandoorne and two-time DTM champion Gary Paffett, this form will not suffice.
Clearly, HWA has a lot to do, and its target will be to get off the mark his weekend in Hong Kong. While its race pace has at times left both Paffett and Vandoorne struggling to compete with its rivals, the team’s speed over one-lap is there with a couple of impressive qualifying displays so far.
Now five races in, the German squad will be aiming to secure another strong qualifying performance in Hong Kong as the pressure ramps up to deliver its first points of the season.
300-101 400-101 300-320 300-070 300-206 200-310 300-135 300-208 810-403 400-050 640-916 642-997 300-209 400-201 200-355 352-001 642-999 350-080 MB2-712 400-051 C2150-606 1Z0-434 1Z0-146 C2090-919 C9560-655 642-64 100-101 CQE CSSLP 200-125 210-060 210-065 210-260 220-801 220-802 220-901 220-902 2V0-620 2V0-621 2V0-621D 300-075 300-115 AWS-SYSOPS 640-692 640-911 1Z0-144 1z0-434 1Z0-803 1Z0-804 000-089 000-105 70-246 70-270 70-346 70-347 70-410