Two weeks ago, I was very fortunate to have been invited by the Law Society to join the second day of the third season of the FIA Formula E Championship held at the Central Harbourfront.
I wanted to make the most of the event because it would be my first time attending a live auto-racing event. As such, like any lawyer would do, I did a small-scale due diligence on the FIA Formula E prior to attending the event and below are some facts I gathered:
What? The FIA Formula E Championship is the world’s first auto-racing event that uses only electric-powered cars.
Who? The concept of electric-powered car racing was initiated by FIA President Jean Todt as a means “to demonstrate the potential of sustainable mobility”.
Current CEO of Formula E, Alejandro Agag, was inspired by this vision and created the global entertainment brand Formula E with a focus on auto-racing.
When? The inaugural championship started in Beijing in September 2014. The second season started in October 2015 and ended in early July 2016.
Hong Kong would kick off the third season of the championship with a two-day event on 8 and 9 October 2016. A pre-race carnival featuring a celebrity race would be held on 8 October while the non-qualifying and qualifying races leading up to the Hong Kong ePrix at 16:00 would be held the following day.
Where? The Hong Kong ePrix circuit would be approximately 2 km with 10 turns located in the Hong Kong Central Harbourfront area. It was estimated and reported that drivers could reach top speeds of 200km/h on the 555-metre main straight on Lung Wo Road.
How? The championship would be contested by 10 teams with 2 drivers each.
Formula E’s unique concept of “FanBoost” would also be supported at the Hong Kong ePrix. With the aim to get fans more involved with the championship, “FanBoost” allows fans to vote for their favourite driver through the FIA’s website (or its official accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram). The top 3 drivers with the most votes would be given an additional boost in power totaling 100 kJ of energy.
On the Day
As mentioned in the above, the event was held at the Central Harbourfront, right next to the Central piers and the Hong Kong Observation Wheel. It was conveniently located with only a 15-minute walk from the Central MTR Station. It was a Sunday and I was really impressed by the seamless logistics the organiser arranged. There were very clear signs/maps and workers everywhere to help visitors find their way to the venue. Although it was crowded, there was no congestion or chaos and the queues all moved in an orderly fashion.
It was a pleasure to have Ray, another member of the Law Society, join the event with me. Ray and I keenly arrived at the entrance next to the Hong Kong Observation Wheel at 14:00, after which we decided to explore the eVillage before immersing ourselves into the Hong Kong ePrix.
Away from the track, the eVillage was an information and entertainment area where visitors could get their hands on a range of electric-powered car-related displays and activities, including displays of the latest electric and hybrid cars and bikes and racing stimulators. Food and beverages and official FormulaE merchandise were also sold in this area. The eVillage had a strong party atmosphere that showcased Formula E’s vision of innovation, technology, sustainability and wellbeing.
After exploring the various activities and enjoying a few drinks and bites at the eVillage for 1.5+ hours, Ray and I decided to head to the Grandstand to secure two nice seats for the Hong Kong ePrix.
We were assigned to seats in the Grandstand that were somewhat close to the end of the main straight at Lung Wo Road. From there overlooking the racetrack, we were able to catch a fleeting glimpse of the drivers overtaking their rivals around a tight corner.
The 45-lap race lasted for approximately 50 minutes. Sébastien Buemi was the defending drivers’ champion and Renault e.dams was the defending teams’ champion. Watching the championship from the Grandstand certainly heightened my excitement, as the cars were racing right beneath my feet.
For most dyed-in-the-wool fans, it is probably the aggressive adrenaline-stirring roar of the car combustion engine and the smell of gasoline that make an auto-racing match interesting and attractive. I certainly did not experience that with Formula E (but the cars were definitely not quiet; I personally think they sounded like boiling kettles!). Having said that, watching the electric cars racing past our landmarks in Hong Kong, including the Central Star Ferry Pier and City Hall, with the Victoria Harbour on one side and the Mid-Levels skyline on the other, I was impressed by the advances in our technology and felt very glad that cars at the event were not only fast, but also clean, sustainable and better for the environment.
Representing a vision for the future of the auto industry, Formula E serves as a platform to feature the electric vehicle and to drive awareness on clean energy and sustainability. Although noises at the Formula E may never send chills up my spine, I am ready to support the championship to excel and to succeed in winning over a brand new fan base.
Many thanks to the Law Society for giving me an educational, environmental friendly and a truly adrenaline filled (and less noisy!) Sunday!