Form book thrown out the window after Hong Kong ePrix


Credit: Formula E

In a bid to boost fan engagement Formula E organisers launched a predictions game for the 2017-18 season, but anyone who dared enter will have realised what a difficult task they have ahead of them after the Hong Kong ePrix.

You can study previous form, read into the technical changes made by each team and look at time sheets from testing – but you will never be sure how the field will shake out when it comes to the morning of an ePrix.

The two rounds that opened up this season threw the form book out the window, and proved that Formula E remains as unpredictable as ever.

Much had been said about the pace of Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler in testing – their long run pace looked immense, and reigning champion Lucas di Grassi was unsurprisingly the bookies’ favourite to make it two in a row.

You also had Renault e.dams looking good over one lap, and as the only team to have won the team’s championship, many were expecting a season long battle between Sebastien Buemi and di Grassi for the title.

So it was startling that both left Hong Kong with just a single point between them.

Di Grassi and Buemi could only manage sixth and ninth respectively in qualifying for the first race, with neither of them finishing in the points.

The second race saw them qualifying even further down the field – in thirteenth and last place.

Both suffered from technical issues as well, something you would have thought would have been ironed out given the resources of the manufacturers behind each of them.

In the end Buemi was fortunate to come away with the one point that he did, gained only as a result of his promotion to tenth place following the disqualification of Daniel Abt, but while last year’s title challengers were faltering there were plenty of surprises at the other end of the grid.

Venturi scored the same number of points in Hong Kong as they did in the whole of last season. Credit: Formula E

The stand out amongst these was Edorado Mortara. The Swiss-Italian had never driven in a Formula E race before, and several gearbox problems during testing had seen Venturi finish at the bottom of the timesheets with very little mileage.

Yet come Hog Kong they looked like they had been transformed, with Mortara qualifying in second and then managing his energy levels and speed brilliantly to lead for most of the race.

While his late spin was a sign of his inexperience, and something he himself called a ‘stupid mistake’, it was a remarkable turnaround for a team that had looked nowhere in pre-season. In fact, such was Venturi’s turnaround, they scored as many points in Hong Kong as they did in the entirety of last season.

Similarly remarkable was the performance of Daniel Abt. The German is under pressure to deliver this year, after several seasons of being thoroughly outperformed by team-mate di Grassi. While the Brazilian has notched up six wins and twenty podiums during his time at the team, Abt has only stood on the podium four times – but this weekend he looked like a new man.

Abt finally looked to have the measure of his world champion team mate in Hong Kong. Credit: Formula E

He had the beating of di Grassi in Hong Kong, and were it not for a bizarre error from his team he would have scored his first win in the series on his 25th birthday.

This, with DS Virgin Racing’s stunning race pace that saw Sam Bird take the opening victory, and MS&AD Andretti’s turnaround from being at the back of the pack to challenging for podiums – just goes to show what makes Formula E such an attractive series to watch.

It’s unpredictable. It’s ever changing. And it’s full of action.

As much as we learnt from the races in Hong Kong, I wouldn’t bet against another set of surprises awaiting us in Marrakesh.