Hong Kong E-Prix: Round 1 Race Report - 02 DEC 2017
- Nelson Piquet Jr. and Mitch Evans qualified in P10 and P20 respectively in a challenging qualifying session
- The race involved lots of contact between the race cars, including Sam Bird crashing into the garage wall and a group of bystanders during the pit stop
- Nelson Piquet Jr. and Mitch Evans executed a series of dramatic overtakes to finish 4th and 12th respectively
- DS Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird edged out Techeetah’s Jean Eric Vergne to take first on the podium
Hong Kong E-Prix in photos
Hong Kong Race Report
The long awaited start of Season 4 of the FIA Formula E championship finally arrived today with Round 1 of the Hong Kong E-Prix. Panasonic Jaguar Racing returned to the grid with a new car and new driver line up. The temperature soared into the mid-twenties as over 35,000 fans descended on the Hong Kong Central Harbour-front circuit. Set against an iconic skyline, and with several teams having new drivers, new partners and upgraded cars, this promised to be a race to remember.
The action kicked off bright and early with the first of two non-qualifying practice sessions, with Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s Mitch Evans taking the second fastest lap. He continued this show of pace through the second practice session as the fastest driver, and confidence was building as the qualifying session approached.
Qualifying started with a bang as Venturi’s Mortara crashed in the first qualifying session. Renault’s Nico Prost lost control on turn 5 as he oversteered and hit the wall leading to the first waving of the red flag. Mitch Evans continued his stellar morning performance, cornering expertly and recording the fastest lap in qualifying. However he finished his lap just outside the allotted time, sending him to the back of the grid for the race. Nelson Piquet Jr. looked fast on the track, but as he put it: “I was too aggressive in places, too cautious in others”, resulting in a 10th place position.
Techeetah’s Jean-Eric Vergne managed to convert a third place in group qualifying to a win in super pole, holding it together in spite of spinning out on the final corner. As the final qualifying standings were announced, there were eight different Formula E teams in the top 10, a remarkable result which may signal a closer battle for the championship this season than ever before.
The fans excitement was palpable as the afternoon wore on, until finally the race was upon us. The action was intense from the start, with the sound of collisions and the strong smell of burning rubber at the very first corner. However, action stopped almost as soon as it started with the red flag making an appearance after a crash on the first lap. It took almost half an hour for the racing to resume, but it was well worth the wait.
The race gave the fans everything they wanted, with lots of overtaking, crashes and a gripping battle for first position. Sam Bird displayed blistering pace, overtaking the race leader to take P1 before the car swap. He drove into his own garage wall (and hitting a group of bystanders!) as he attempted to make his car swap in haste, netting him a 10 second penalty.
Both of Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s drivers were not in for an easy race, needing to battle their way through the pack to approach the podium. But they displayed grit and true determination as they both climbed through the positions. Mitch gave it his all with one daring overtake after another to climb six places during the race. Nelson Piquet Jr. drove with great consistency as he steadily worked his way up the ranks, finishing in fifth place.
Sam Bird managed to persevere despite his penalty setback, beating Vergne to the finish line. In the final standings, penalties led to both Nelson and Mitch moving up, placing in 4th and 12th position respectively. This will be very encouraging to the whole team at Panasonic Jaguar Racing, as a 4th place finish ties with their best finish yet in Mexico City during Season 3. The pace shown during practice and the determination both drivers showed during the race will set them in good stead going into the second leg of the Hong Kong E-Prix – watch this space!