Kamui Kobayashi will make a surprise Formula E debut in Hong Kong after he was drafted in by MS&AD Andretti for the 2017-18 season opener.
Andretti had previously listed Tom Blomqvist as their second driver alongside Antonio Felix da Costa when the official entry list was published earlier his month.
However Blomqvist will step aside for Kobayashi in a move that has been instigated by the team’s title sponsor, Japanese company MS&AD Insurance.
Commenting on the announcement Kobayashi thanked the Japanese insurance giants for helping him secure the drive, saying “First of all, I would like to thank to Michael, the whole Andretti Formula E team and MS&AD insurance for giving me this wonderful opportunity to race at the Hong Kong ePrix.
“Andretti is one of the world most popular racing families and I am so excited to have my Formula E debut race under his name.
“I will be going to the race weekend without testing which is not an easy thing to be honest, but the team has been giving me all the support so no worrying at all and I am really looking forward to having good races there.”
Team CEO Michael Andretti was not concerned about Kobayashi’s lack of experience in an all-electric car, saying that his experience in F1 and the WEC made Formula E the logical next step.
“He has shown what he can do in both Formula One and WEC, making Formula E a perfect next step,” said Andretti.
“To partner one of the largest companies in Japan, MS&AD Insurance, with one of the most popular Japanese racing drivers, will be exciting to see.
“The passion that Japanese fans have is incredible and we expect to see that when he makes his debut in Hong Kong.”
Blomqvist is currently expected to replace Kobayashi after the Hong Kong rounds of the championship.