Top 5 talking points going into the Formula E Hong Kong E-Prix
The fifth round of the ABB Formula E 2018/19 season takes us to the beautiful city of Hong Kong on Sunday - and as usual, there is a lot to talk about going into the race weekend....
5) ANDRE LOTTERER'S PRIORITISES FORMULA E OVER SEBRING - WILL IT PAY OFF?
This is a rather interesting bit of news. Earlier this week, DS Techeetah driver Andre Lotterer spoke about his decision to forego his World Endurance Championship race at Sebring to prioritise much needed simulator time - in preparation for the sixth race of the current FE season in Sanya, China in two weeks time. In an interview, Lotterer explained his decision by saying: "I've been in WEC since day one and love the championship. Obviously, things change and this championship [FE] became quite important as it's city tracks. And it's [Sanya] a new one, we tried to arrange the dates so we could do a proper job and it was clashing with the race, so I took the decision to focus fully on FE and I thank Rebellion [Lotterer's WEC team] for understanding this."
You have to wonder if this extra dedication to his FE obiligations will pay off for him - and maybe his on-track performance will start to improve as a result. Without the stress of WEC, Lotterer can solely focus on FE for the time being.
4) WILL THIS BE THE LAST HONG KONG E-PRIX?
According to Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag, planned construction projects in Hong Kong (near where FE hosts the race weekend) may result in the city's e-prix not being included on the 2019/20 calendar. The reason why the construction projects will affect the future of the e-prix is because of the track length needing to be increased to accommodate the 12 teams that will race in the 2019/20 season. The circuit's expansion is a topic up for discussion and will be reviewed at the FIA's request.
In an interview with Motorsport.com, Agag said the following: "We would love to stay in Hong Kong. We have meetings with the Hong Kong authorities and so on after the [race] weekend. We are in discussions so it’s not confirmed that we stay in Hong Kong, but our wish is to stay. They are very constructive, we are absolutely on the idea of staying but let’s see if we can reach an agreement."
3) JEAN-ERIC VERGNE DESCRIBES RECENT RACES AS "NOT MOTORSPORT"
After two major collisions this season - current Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne has publicily gone on record as saying that recent FE races were "not motorsport" and that "you don't see this in Formula 1". Last time out in Mexico City, Vergne collided with Nelson Piquet, resulting in a huge crash that resulted in a red flag. He criticised the actions of several drivers during the full course yellow immediately after the shunt, and then clashed with Mitch Evans after the restart - which caused him to spin.
You can understand Vergne's frustrations with recent incidents (especially the clash with Evans), but it almost feels like his outburst is the product of lacklustre season so far on his part.
2) JAGUAR'S "UNPREDICTABLE" CAR IS HURTING THEM BADLY IN QUALIFYING
Jaguar's drivers Nelson Piquet Jr and Mitch Evans say that their "unpredictable" and "high maintenance" Gen2 car is "making life too hard" in qualifying. Jaguar's average qualifying position across the two cars is 11.9, with Piquet's average 13.5 to team-mate Evans's 10.3. In the qualifying session for the Mexico e-prix, Piquet was on course to snatch pole position - but ran wide in the stadium section and lost the golden opportunity.
In an interview with Autosport, Piquet said: "It's frustrating but we know the points our team still needs to work on, starting with qualifying as our pace isn't good enough and we still need to improve. Without qualifying [well] the races become difficult."
Evans echoed his teammate's frustrations by saying: "We had a good package but we were making life too hard for ourselves in qualifying. The car is very unpredictable and on the edge, which is the last thing you want. "
Maybe this weekend's e-prix can bring an upswing in fortunes for Jaguar and their qualifying reliability...
1) WILL THERE BE YET ANOTHER NEW RACE DRIVER IN HONG KONG?
Last lap drama proved to be king once again in Mexico, with Lucas Di Grassi winning the e-prix from Pascal Wehrlein. Moments before reaching the finish line, Wehrlein's Mahindra car ran out of power - and Di Grassi overtook him literally metres from the line, in the closest race finish of Formula E's history.
This meant that there has been a different driver from a different team winning every race this season. Mahindra's Jerome D'Ambrosio currently leads the drivers standings by 7 points from BMW's Antonio Felix Da Costa, and Mahindra currently hold the lead of the team standings by 10 points from Virgin.
Could we have another different race winner in Hong Kong? Out of the Top 10 in the drivers standings - Pascal Wehrlein, Andre Lotterer, Robin Frijns, Jean-Eric Vergne, Mitch Evans and Edoardo Mortara are yet to win this season. Both DS Techeetah drivers (especially Vergne) will be anxious to score their first win of the season - whilst Wehrlein and Frijns have a chance to score an all-important second win for the Mahindra and Virgin teams respectively.
It's all to play for in Hong Kong on Sunday.