Kamui Kobayashi to make Formula E debut in Hong Kong ePrix with Andretti
Amlin Andretti has announced Kamui Kobayashi for the FIA Formula E Championship's 2017/18 season-opener in Hong Kong during December 2-3 weekend.
The Japanese will partner Antonio Felix da Costa for the double-header, while Tom Blomqvist, who was announced as a full-time driver in the FIA's entry list is expected to return in Round 2.
"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," said Kobayashi.
"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."
The news comes as a result of MS&AD sponsorship, which is the parent company of MS Amlin, the UK arm - with the Japanese insurance company wanting one of its popular local driver in the car during the weekend.
MS Amiln's Adrian Britten said: “We are delighted that Kamui Kobayashi has joined the MS&AD Andretti team and are looking forward to real excitement on the track. The welcome return of a Japanese driver to the Formula E grid will hopefully encourage a future Formula E race in Japan.”
Michael Andretti added: “We are very fortunate to have a driver of Kobayashi’s caliber in the No. 27 MS&AD Andretti car to start the season in Hong Kong. He has shown what he can do in both Formula One and WEC, making Formula E a perfect next step.
"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.”
Kobayashi will head into the weekend with no prior testing apart from simulator running, as he will be in action this weekend in the FIA World Endurance Championship with Toyota in the LMP1 category for 6 Hours of Bahrain - before his trip to Hong Kong.
Kobayashi becomes the third driver from Japan to compete in the all-electric championship, after former F1 drivers Takuma Sato and Sakon Yamamoto had their chance in the inaugural season.