Photo of Hong Kong's skyline at night.

Formula E 18/19 race preview: Race 5, Hong Kong

Mar 8, 2019 - 4min read

Following the madness in Mexico City, Formula E celebrates its 50th E-Prix this weekend at Hong Kong’s iconic Harbourfront. The fifth race of the season, and the first of two races scheduled to take place in Asia - this is the fourth time Formula E has raced at the circuit.

The Hong Kong circuit


Track Name = Harbourfront Circuit

Track length = 1.85 km

Number of turns = 10

Track Preview

Intimately nestled in the heart of Hong Kong’s Harbourside, the relatively short circuit should prove to be a challenge for the drivers. A short sprint to the hairpin at Turn 1 is followed by a half kilometre sprint to Turn 2. With plenty of time to catch opponents, this narrow right-hander will need to be carefully manoeuvred if the drivers want to manage a successful overtake!

Starting with a chicane, an awkward set of Turns from 5 to 8 leads the cars towards and around the Ferris wheel. Expect the cars to be bumper-to-bumper and any errors to be pounced on throughout here as the drivers will need to be technically sharp; getting as close as they can to the barriers to keep their opponents behind. Every driver will be looking for a strong drive as they pull out of Turn 9 as they attempt to jump their opponents in the long run back to Turn1.

Green Scout Report

Hong Kong is an exceptionally densely populated area – the whole country has the same density as London and all its boroughs. From an energy perspective, this comes with its challenges.

How do you power enough homes and businesses for 17,436 people in every square mile and manage to fit in affordable, non-polluting, and locally-pleasing power generation?1 The simple answer is to have a few, very large power stations located away from highly populated areas, and to import the rest. As you’ll see below, all the power stations in the area are dotted around the coast, for cooling, and far away from the seething centre in the south.

With no specific renewable commitments, coal, gas and nuclear are the dominant forces in Hong Kong’s electricity landscape. In 2012, coal made up a whopping 53% of energy generated in the country, nuclear 23%, natural gas 22%, and renewable energy the remaining 2%2.

Of this breakdown, 23% is imported (most of which is nuclear) and a significant amount of coal is imported from Indonesia2. The remainder is generated from five power stations located throughout the country, the largest of which, Castle Peak, is approximately 30% bigger than the largest coal and biomass station in the UK – Drax, in Yorkshire. Interestingly, the two sites here were each opened by then-in-power Margaret Thatcher and the Duke of Edinburgh respectively whilst Hong Kong remained a British colony.

Map of Hong Kong

In terms of renewables, the local authorities believe that there isn’t enough space for solar or onshore wind; the local landscape doesn’t favour hydro and wind energy is too expensive2. Though we appreciate Hong Kong is not ideally placed for renewables, maybe once floating wind turbines have been commercialised, they might be able to review these conclusions and opt for a more renewable approach.

Three things to look out for:

1. Wehrlein justifying the hype

The hype around German wonderkid Pascal Wehrlein is increasingly looking justified. After unluckily crashing out of his first race, he’s accumulated 30 points in the last two races, including a controversial penalty in Mexico City. Don’t forget, he also missed the first race of the season too. Formula E is unpredictable, but one thing we can be sure of is that this boy has pace!

2. Can the manufacturers learn from their mistakes in Mexico?

The Mexico E-Prix was epic. This was in large part due to the manufacturers being overly relaxed about their energy management – leading to some cars running out of energy before the end of the race or, in Wehrlein’s case, as they crossed the line! Something in the air will have caused that, and it will be intriguing to see which team can more accurately assess this and manage energy usage this time around.

3. Time for some luck for Alex

Our very own Alexander Sims has been struck with some terrible luck in the series so far. In, Saudi Arabia he was penalised for regenerating too much energy on the brakes. In Marrakech, he was involved in a collision with his team mate António Félix da Costa. In Santiago, he was harshly penalised for a slight clip on Edoardo Mortara. And in Mexico, he was hit by the flying Nelson Piquet Jnr early in the race. If he can get a clean race, we’re certain he’ll be fighting for the podium, so keep an eye out!

“With its incredible backdrop of the harbour, I’m really looking forward to racing in Hong Kong,” said Sims. “The circuit is quite twisty and demanding, but I’ve been trying to get to grips with it as best as possible on the simulator. I think it will be tougher than in Mexico, as the nuances of a true street circuit can’t be underestimated, but the car is quick so I’m confident that we can score good points in Hong Kong.”

How do I watch?

The 45 min race starts at 8am (UK time) on Sunday 10th March and is available to watch on BBC Two, BT Sport 3 and the BBC Sport website.




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