The Formula E season gets underway on Sunday with the inaugural Hong Kong ePrix.
New to to the calendar, all track records will be up for grabs this weekend. In today’s “shakedown” session, Techeetah’s Ma Qing Hua set the fastest time, but it won’t be until the completion of the practice sessions first-thing tomorrow that a true picture of the teams’ standings becomes clear.
One thing that is certain is that the harbour-front circuit is tight, narrow and challenging. There are two hairpin bends that will be tricky to manoeuvre, particularly in the opening laps when the 20-strong field will be tightly bunched up. The long, sweeping straight that immediately follows turn 1 will show us very quickly which cars have the best straight-line speed, whilst sector 2 will play into the hands of those teams with better cornering.
What to look out for
Formula E drivers need to swap cars at the mid-point of the race. In previous seasons, this usually comes after exactly half the number of laps have been completed. However, technical developments since last year mean there is now more scope for tactics. The amount of energy drivers are allowed to recover through regenerative breaking (“re-gen”) has been increased from 100 to 150kW, potentially giving them the equivalent of an extra lap in Hong Kong. In addition, Michelin’s new tyres are lighter and have less rolling resistance, also saving the driver the equivalent of an extra lap’s energy.
Combined, this means drivers have the option to be aggressive with their re-gen and push further into the race than previously. Their second car can then be driver harder and faster over the shorter stint of remaining laps. If there is a safety car or full-course yellow in the first half of the race, this will also give the teams more options.
However, more re-gen means more heat, and with high track temperatures and humidity forecast for the race tomorrow, drivers must play a delicate balancing act to ensure they don’t cook their car.
When to watch
Qualifying for the race starts at 12 noon local time (12 midnight Eastern / 5am UK / 6am CEST) followed by the race at 4pm local (4am Eastern / 9am UK / 10am CEST), so there’s time to catch the F1 Japanese Grand Prix during the break. A full qualifying and race report will be posted here shortly after each session.
Image: Faraday Future Dragon Racing at the Harbourfront circuit © Formula E