Hong Kong seeks schedule shift for season four

Spacesuit-Media-Dan Bathie-FIA-Formula-E-Hong-Kong-ePrix-October-2016-Sam Bird DS Virgin Racing

Organisers of the Hong Kong Formula E race are keen to shift to a later date for the 2017 event.

Formula E first hit Hong Kong in October this year as the opening round of season three, when Sebastien Buemi kicked off his title defence in style with a classy victory around the streets of the harbourfront circuit.

The race was well-received locally but concerns were raised at the time about the possibility of a typhoon hitting the region. Ultimately, the race ran in warm, overcast conditions despite short-term weather prediction pessimism.

In a bid to avoid the typhoon season in Asia, local officials are now pushing to move the race to a later date, as reported by the South China Morning Post on Friday.

“We were greatly concerned about the weather conditions this year when we staged the event in October because of the approach of a typhoon,” Alan Fang, CEO of Formula Electric Hong Kong Racing, said. “Fortunately it did not affect the race but it had given us a lot of worries.

“We are now planning to start the 2017 event in late November when we discuss it with the government as we will use probably the same venue in the Central Harbourfront next year. The teams need probably three months to reset the car and test the new technology for the new season and therefore we may still be leading out the fourth season even if we start the event at a later date next year.”

Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag has previously said he expected a later start to season four, with the final round of season three in Montreal not being held until 30 July. With a later start, more races could be fitted into the European winter months when other series are not racing, giving Formula E the chance to avoid schedule clashes through that period (the original intention of the series).

However, it must also be noted that Agag is pushing to add more Asian rounds to the calendar for season four, potentially giving another city the chance to host the first race of the year if Hong Kong’s date is too late.

The date is not the only planned change for Hong Kong in 2017. Fang also added that he wanted to make the circuit half a kilometre longer, increasing its length from 1.8km to 2.3km. However, he did admit that this may not prove possible given the constraints of the streets on the harbour front.

“There are some geographical limitations of the current course as it will be difficult to extend it to the east because of public transport spots such as the Star Ferry and the airport railway station,” Fang said. “There is a small tunnel if we want to extend the course to Tamar Park on the west but this will be very dangerous to the drivers. We will have to work out the best location plan for the interest of the drivers, spectators and the organisers.”

Luke Smith

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