Formula E is considered the future of motor sport. However, probably because Formula E is relatively new and not as well known as other forms of motor sport, like Formula 1 and Le Mans, its reception amongst Hongkongers, even for motor fans, seemed to be lukewarm. Many seemed to be more interested in how the Formula E can boost tourism. While there is nothing to be criticised for holding such pragmatic views, I think Formula E is more than a tourist attraction. It is a passion!
Despite the race track being located in the Central Business District, I was very impressed to see how little disturbance it caused to the normal course of traffic on Hong Kong Island. The streets of Central were still filled with people, who were enjoying themselves, picnicking and singing, free from any annoyance caused by the sound of petrol engines. Perhaps that is the beauty of electric racing cars!
The Formula E race was the highlight, with one supporting race during the two-day event. Those featured in the supporting race were electric family cars, which are designed more for economy than speed. Of course, the racing version of the electric family cars were equipped with all of the necessary safety measures. However, with limitations on their power and endurance, the supporting race may not have been as exciting and entertaining as the audience may have wished, despite the participation of a few celebrities of the town.
The Formula E race took place on Sunday afternoon. While I was thrilled to watch the race, I was a bit disappointed that other spectators did not seem to share my enthusiasm. There was not much cheering when the cars passed before the spectators, who seemed calm and quiet. Probably given the noiseless engines, any cheering and applause may have been taken to have spoiled the tranquil atmosphere.
In spite of its tepid reception, I have no doubt that the event was an overall success. Having said that, I think there are a few areas where improvements could be made. First, there were not enough stands to accommodate spectators. It could have been because the tickets, which were more than HK$2,000 each, were too expensive for most to afford, and thus there was no need for more seats. For me, it seems a shame that so few had the privilege to participate. It also seemed to impact the carnival atmosphere. Second, better entertainment could be provided to the spectators. There was an E-Village next to the racing track, but this area only contained car shows and food stalls. With admission tickets being sold at HK$300 a pop, it did not seem to be value for money. Perhaps next year more entertainment options could be offered, like live music or a concert. Lastly, it would be great if more supporting events and races were in place.
I am over the moon that Hong Kong finally hosted an international motor racing event. I really hope that it will come back again next year, and in the years to come. I am sure it will only get better as the sport grows in prominence and popularly. I will keep my fingers crossed for it!
"After some 3 years of effort particularly by Mr. Lawrence Yu, the immediate past president of the HK Automobile Association, we are pleased to witness the first ever Formula e-Prix on the streets of Hong Kong. We are grateful for the support which the SAR government has provided to make this historic event happen. Hong Kong needs more positive energy these days and we hope this is just the beginning!"
Kenneth S Y Ng