|2016 Hong Kong ePrix|
Hong Kong's first ever ePrix layout.
|Date||9 October 2016|
|Official Name||2016 FIA Formula E HKT Hong Kong ePrix|
|Location||Hong Kong Harbourfront Circuit, Hong Kong, China|
|Lap length||1.860 km (1.156 mi)|
|Distance||45 laps / 83.700 km (52.009 mi)|
|Pole Sitter||Nelson Piquet Jr.|
|Fastest Lap||1:02.947 on lap 36|
|Sébastien Buemi||Lucas di Grassi||Nick Heidfeld|
|Winner Team||Renault e.Dams|
|2016 London ePrix II||2016 Marrakech ePrix|
The 2016 Hong Kong ePrix, officially known as the 2016 HKT Hong Kong ePrix, was the opening round of the 2016/17 FIA Formula E Championship, staged at the Hong Kong Harbourfront Circuit in Hong Kong, China. The race was held on the 9 of October 2016, and saw five drivers and two teams make their debuts in the series, as Sébastien Buemi and Renault e.Dams opened their title defence.
Qualifying would be a rather confused affair after Robin Frijns crashed heavily at the chicane, writing off his car and damaging the tec-pro barriers to cause a thirty minute delay. That delay meant that the Super Pole shootout was cancelled, leaving Nelson Piquet Jr. on pole for the first time with NextEV NIO teammate Oliver Turvey completing the front row.
When the lights went out at the start it would be the two NextEVs that led the race, slithering into the first corner at the head of the field after a clean start throughout the field. The clean start would not last, however, and as the field concertinaed into the slow turn two left hander, contact became inevitable. The first tap was made between the two DS Virgin Racing cars of José María López and Sam Bird, which would have consequences later on, while an unsighted Lucas di Grassi smashed his front wing by hitting the back of Ma Qing Hua, who was propelled over the back of Daniel Abt as a result.
Ma would be out with severe damage to his car, while the two ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport drivers would be forced to pit to have damage repaired. Lopez, meanwhile, was tumbling down the order with damage on the left rear, while Bird and Buemi elbowed their way past Turvey and attempted to hunt down Piquet out front. They would never catch the Brazilian, however, as he had no choice but to hit the wall at the chicane to avoid the wrecked Virgin of Lopez, out after a complete suspension failure.
The resulting safety car period would see Buemi pit while Bird stayed out, attempting to extend his stint in the first car before pushing in the second, the reverse of Buemi. Three laps after the safety car returned to the pits and Bird was in, but a problem starting his second car dumped him a lap down and out of contention. He would set about unlapping himself as soon as he rejoined, but he would require a safety car to get back into the pack.
Ultimately a second safety car would never come, leaving Buemi to cruise home to open his title defence with a win. di Grassi claimed second despite having to stop for a new nose, while Nick Heidfeld survived a last minute power scare to claim third, ahead of Nicolas Prost. António Félix da Costa and Frijns were notable highlights as they complete the top six after their late race push, while debutante Felix Rosenqvist set the fastest lap to earn his first point.
It would be a busy summer after the conclusion of the 2015/16 campaign, as the teams and manufacturers set about completing the testing on their new 2016/17 challengers. The entire field would gather for the 2016 Donington Test in late August, with six days of testing allowing teams to get their cars up to speed. It would also allow Jaguar and Penske to test their new designs for the series, with the former also using the test to evaluate four different drivers for their first FE campaign.
Jaguar had joined the series after the demise of the Trulli Formula E Team and their partners Motomatica, who had withdrawn from the series in December 2015. Their new car, the Jaguar I-Type I, ran publicly for the first time at the Donington Test, where Mitch Evans and Adam Carroll managed to secure full race seats for the new season. Both Evans and Carroll would make their debuts in the series in Hong Kong, with the former also becoming the first New Zealander to race in FE.
Elsewhere, Penske came in to build a powertrain for sister-programme Dragon Racing, who had also secured a major sponsor in the form of Faraday Future. Familiar racers Jérôme d'Ambrosio and Loïc Duval were retained, with both getting their first taste of the car at the Donington Test where the car proved to be reliable and relatively quick.
The other new group in FE would be found in the form of Techeetah, a Chinese backed effort which took over from former entrant Team Aguri. New owners SECA spent big over the summer, partnering Ma Qing Hua with Jean-Éric Vergne, poached from DS Virgin Racing, while also securing a deal to run what proved to be the quickest car at the Donington Tests. Indeed, Techeetah would enter their maiden FE season as a Renault customer team, using identical cars to the double Champions Renault e.Dams.
Speaking of the defending Champions and e.Dams were unchanged from 2015/16, with Sébastien Buemi, the defending drivers Champion, and Nicolas Prost retained. It would be Buemi who pushed the Renault Z.E. 16 to its limits in Donington, setting a new circuit record on the final day, heading the outright pace table with Vergne and Prost. The new car also proved to be reliable, with no major problems occurring, leaving the French outfit as favourites to take the series once again.
Their major rivals, other than Techeetah, looked set to be DS Virgin Racing, after Sam Bird put their latest creation into fourth at Dongington Park, the first non-Renault on outright pace. They had filled their second seat with WTCC Champion José María López, while the new car looked a better overall package than their previous contender. A team in a similar position would be Mahindra Racing, who fielded a new boy in the form of Felix Rosenqvist alongside an FE veteran in Nick Heidfeld, although their Donington Test would be less successful pace wise.
ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport were unchanged from the previous season, as Lucas di Grassi and Daniel Abt once again set to battle with news that Audi would be taking over the team from 2017/18. Another unchanged team would be the renamed NextEV NIO, who had Nelson Piquet Jr. and Oliver Turvey back in action, with major revisions allowing their car to run reliably at the test.
The final two teams in the field were Venturi and Andretti Formula E, with both fielding their own cars with new driver line ups. For Venturi, new German sponsorship saw Maro Engel drafted in to partner Stéphane Sarrazin as they hoped to improve upon their 2015/16 results, although the new car would be near the bottom of the times in Donington. For Andretti, a gruelling test programme meant that their new car, the Andretti ATEC-02 would actually make it to a race before being withdrawn, with António Félix da Costa brought in to join Robin Frijns. On the 27th of September BMW confirmed that they would be partnering with Andretti in Formula E, funding da Costa's seat while also preparing to provide full factory backing for the 2018/19 season. The German car manufacturer also announced their continuation as the official vehicle supplier for the series.
Mercedes-Benz were another manufacturer to announce their interest in Formula E in the build up to the Hong Kong season opener, with the Stuttgart squad plotting a joint Formula One and FE campaign. An agreement between Formula E Holdings and Mercedes Grand Prix saw the latter reserve a position to join the 2018/19 season as a manufacturer, the first season in which every FE car would be expected to complete the full race distance. They would join another F1 constructor in the form of McLaren, who were confirmed as the sole battery supplier for the fifth season as they deepened their involvement in the series.
The full entry list for the 2016 Hong Kong ePrix is displayed below:
The first qualifying session of the new season would see no changes to the format established during the 2015/16 season, with four qualifying groups, formed by a lottery draw held on Saturday. Each group featured five drivers, who would all go out on circuit in a six minute run to set one lap at the full 200kW power output. The fastest five from the combined group table would then proceed to the Super Pole Shootout, with the slowest of the fastest five going out first to set a lap on an empty track with the rest of the fastest five going out to an empty track to try and set a time good enough for pole.
The first group of the season would see Nicolas Prost become the first of the title pretenders to hit the circuit as he headlined the opening quintet. Adam Carroll and the Jaguar Racing effort would get their first chance to qualify in the series, with the rest of the group made up of familiar FE faces. Those three would be Stéphane Sarrazin, Loïc Duval and Nick Heidfeld, meaning five different powertrains would be on show in the first group.
The first group of the day would be running on a modified circuit after practice, a sausage kerb having been removed after FP2 at the first chicane. Best of the bunch proved to be Duval, who shocked a fair number of the field by beating Prost by over a tenth of a second. Heidfeld was only a tenth further back in third, while Carroll beat Sarrazin by a tenth as they finished the first group over half a second off of Duval's best effort.
Lucas di Grassi, another pre-season favourite and FE runner-up from 2015/16, headlined the second group, as the four other manufacturers put their latest tech on display. Sam Bird was in action for DS Virgin Racing, António Félix da Costa would make his debut for Andretti and Oliver Turvey was to get the season underway for NextEV NIO. Also out on circuit would be the second debuting team Techeetah, as Ma Qing Hua put their privately entered Renault powertrains into play.
It would be group two's headline act that wrote the headlines for the second quintet, although not for the right reasons. The Brazilian misjudged the reformed chicane on his full power lap and smacked into the barrier on the inside wall, wiping out his front left suspension. Fortunately, di Grassi was at the back of the group and so the yellow flags did not disrupt the rest of the runners, as Turvey went to the top of the times ahead of Bird, with just two hundredths of a second between them.
The third quintet of the session would see a mix of experience and youth head onto the circuit, with 2014/15 Champion Nelson Piquet Jr. the most experience of the quintet. Felix Rosenqvist would get his first taste of FE qualifying when he hit the circuit, while Mitch Evans would become the youngest ever driver in the series when he set out for Jaguar. Jean-Éric Vergne and Robin Frijns completed the group for Techeetah and Andretti respectively.
Group three would also see an accident at the chicane, although this one was far more disruptive, requiring a thirty minute delay to repair the barriers. Frijns was the man to crash, having misjudged his entry speed and ploughed into the tec-pro barriers, managing to split the monocoque of his car meaning it was doubtful whether he could complete the race. Vergne was an unfortunate victim of the crash, narrowly avoiding the smashed Andretti having just set the fastest first sector, while Piquet had gone to the top of the times with a 1:03.099.
The final group would see the 2015/16 Champion, and widely regarded favourite, Sébastien Buemi open his title defence as he headlined the final five. Daniel Abt looked to be his closest challenger with the ABT machine, while Jérôme d'Ambrosio was a threat given his previous one-lap pace. Two new boys would also get their first taste of FE action, with Maro Engel and José María López completing the group.
The delay may have affected the minds of the drivers in the final group, with Buemi a shock fifth as the final group brought an end to the session. The pre-season favourite did not even manage to top the group, beaten by the rookie Lopez, who squeezed in between Turvey and Bird, with Abt three tenths off the back of the Swiss racer. Engel beat his teammate Sarrazin on his qualifying debut, while d'Ambrosio qualified as the slowest of those in the group phase to set a time with the maximum power.
Due to the delay in clearing up the circuit after Frijn's accident, and the need for the cars to be charged ahead of the race, the Super Pole shootout was cancelled, with the grid settled based on the result of the group stages. That meant that Piquet Jr. would start from pole ahead of teammate Turvey, with Lopez and Bird completing the second row ahead of Buemi.
The final qualifying results for the 2016 Hong Kong ePrix are outlined below:
|2016 Hong Kong ePrix Qualifying Result|
|1st||3||Nelson Piquet Jr.||NextEV NIO||1:03.099||—||1||G3|
|2nd||88||Oliver Turvey||NextEV NIO||1:03.231||+0.132s||2||G2|
|3rd||37||José María López||DS Virgin Racing||1:03.251||+0.152s||3||G4|
|4th||2||Sam Bird||DS Virgin Racing||1:03.258||+0.159s||4||G2|
|5th||9||Sébastien Buemi||Renault e.Dams||1:03.317||+0.218s||5||G4|
|1st||3||Nelson Piquet Jr.||NextEV NIO||1:03.099||—||SP||G3|
|2nd||88||Oliver Turvey||NextEV NIO||1:03.231||+0.132s||SP||G2|
|3rd||37||José María López||DS Virgin Racing||1:03.251||+0.152s||SP||G4|
|4th||2||Sam Bird||DS Virgin Racing||1:03.258||+0.159s||SP||G2|
|5th||9||Sébastien Buemi||Renault e.Dams||1:03.317||+0.218s||SP||G4|
|6th||19||Felix Rosenqvist||Mahindra Racing||1:03.332||+0.233s||6||G3|
|7th||66||Daniel Abt||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||1:03.615||+0.516s||7||G4|
|8th||6||Loïc Duval||Dragon Racing||1:03.637||+0.538s||8||G1|
|10th||8||Nicolas Prost||Renault e.Dams||1:03.759||+0.660s||10||G1|
|11th||23||Nick Heidfeld||Mahindra Racing||1:03.848||+0.749s||11||G1|
|12th||5||Maro Engel||Venturi Formula E Team||1:03.915||+0.816s||12||G4|
|13th||28||António Félix da Costa||Andretti Formula E||1:04.057||+0.958s||13||G2|
|14th||47||Adam Carroll||Jaguar Racing||1:04.428||+1.329s||17||G1|
|15th||4||Stéphane Sarrazin||Venturi Formula E Team||1:04.520||+1.421s||14||G1|
|16th||20||Mitch Evans||Jaguar Racing||1:04.588||+1.489s||15||G3|
|17th||33||Ma Qing Hua||Techeetah||1:04.740||+1.641s||16||G2|
|18th||7||Jérôme d'Ambrosio||Dragon Racing||1:05.166||+2.067s||18||G4|
|19th||11||Lucas di Grassi||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||1:08.094||+4.995s||19||G2|
|110% Time: 1:09.409|
|NC†||27||Robin Frijns||Andretti Formula E||1:10.407||+7.308s||20||G3|
- * Super Pole Shootout not staged due to time constraints.
- † Frijns did not set a time within 110% of the fastest lap during the group stage, but was allowed to start at the stewards' discretion.
Despite a cloud filled sky hanging over Hong Kong, the circuit was dry as the field were assembled on the pre-race grid, as 30,000 people gathered to watch. All twenty drivers would start the race, although there was some frantic work at Andretti Formula E, as they rushed to complete Robin Frijns' second car in time for the second part of the race. Otherwise there were no concerns for the field as they were signalled to pull into their proper grid slots, with some minor changes at the back of the pack due to post-qualifying penalties.
It was an even start for the two NextEV NIOs out front, with Nelson Piquet Jr. leading teammate Oliver Turvey through the first corner. José María López tried to take the latter of the pair around the outside of turn one, although his compromised line allowed his teammate Sam Bird to squeeze past. Sébastien Buemi was also move past the Argentine as the DS Virgin struggled for grip on the outside line, having also clipped the wall, with the rest of the field squeezing through the first corner with only minor contact.
However, while the first corner had been cleared without issue, tight second corner would see some heavier damage inflicted in the middle of the pack. The first casualty would be Daniel Abt, who was smacked into by an unsighted António Félix da Costa, breaking the rear wing on the ABT Schaeffler. Their contact caused a concertina effect, with Nicolas Prost having to stamp on the brakes to avoid their collision. The near-stationary Renault e.Dams was duly slammed into by Ma Qing Hua, whom had no room to take avoiding action having had to jump on the brakes alongside Lucas di Grassi.
Prost escaped with only minor damage to the back of his car, while Ma was out having smashed his suspension and front wing. As the Chinese racer cruised around to retire, Lopez fell behind the charging Mahindras, who took him with a well timed double move into turn two. The Argentine would continue to slide down the field during the following laps, with Loïc Duval, Jean-Éric Vergne, Prost and Maro Engel making short work of the Argentine.
Elsewhere, Abt was forced into the pits to have his damaged rear wing replaced, while the sister car of di Grassi was called in due to damage on his front wing. The Brazilian would protest in the midst of a fight with Mitch Evans and the limping Lopez, while Abt rejoined having had his damaged rear wing removed. Out front, meanwhile, Piquet Jr. was enjoying his best race in a calendar year, increasing his lead by almost a second a lap.
Aiding Piquet's sprint was the fact that teammate Turvey was having to defend from the rest of the top runners, with Bird particularly. Ultimately, his resistance proved futile, with both Bird and Buemi elbowing their way past to go off after the Brit's teammate. Behind Turvey were now the two Mahindra's with debutante Felix Rosenqvist trying to pass Nick Heidfeld, while Vergne dropped out of the lead pack with an issue in his car, forcing him into the second of his chargers.
With that the race began to settle down, di Grassi dropping out of contention after having to stop for a new front wing, narrowly avoiding a marshal on his way out. Stéphane Sarrazin, meanwhile, would make a dive past debutante Evans for eleventh, with the Kiwi's teammate Adam Carroll the next to line-up a move. Out front, meanwhile, Bird and Buemi were chipping into Piquet's lead, with the Brazilian also using marginally more energy to try and hold his lead.
However, this would only be a brief hiatus of action, as Rosenqvist learned an important lesson about running wide, losing the backend on the dust and sliding into the barriers at turn five. The resulting conact with the barriers broke the Swede's steering and rear wing, although Rosenqvist was able to limp around to get into his spare. He rejoined on lap fifteen, some seven laps shy of the pitstop window.
However, just three laps later the Swede was handed a life-line, as Lopez's miserable afternoon ended in the barriers at the chicane, bringing out the Safety car. Next on scene proved to be the race leading Piquet, although the Brazilian only saw the Virgin partially blocking the circuit as he came through the chicane. He was forced to take avoiding action and gently brushed into the barriers, and could only rejoin after Bird and Buemi had flashed past to take the lead.
The emergence of the safety car came shortly before the opening of the pit-window, prompting ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport to pit both of their cars on lap nineteen. The leaders, meanwhile, opted to carry on for another two laps, with Buemi leading in the first bunch of cars. Heidfeld and Duval jumped Turvey in the stops, while Prost gained time by matching his teammate's decision.
Buemi's stop came right at the end of the safety car period, leaving the Swiss racer in tenth as the race restarted. Bird sprinted into the lead at the restart, aided by Piquet's dive into the pits, knowing that he would need to find almost forty seconds to get a gap over Buemi. Second proved to be da Costa, who lost a lot of time behind Vergne, while di Grassi and Buemi fought on at the back of the top ten.
Three laps after the safety car period ended and da Costa led Engel and Sarrazin in, leaving Bird, Carroll, Evans and Robin Frijns as the only men yet to stop. Bird and the two Jaguars stopped a lap later, leaving Frijns to complete an additional lap, although all of the drama was in the pits as the Virgin refused to move. Buemi blasted past the pits twice before Bird finally rejoined the race, while Frijns got back in the race with his rebuilt second car.
With eighteen laps to go it was now Buemi leading from di Grassi, with those two pulling clear of third placed Heidfeld. Bird emerged a lap down in fifteenth, but was attacking the German to try and unlap himself, with Prost leading up to fourth thanks to Renault e.Dams tactics. Elsewhere, da Costa elbowed his way past Duval for seventh, with a huge reserve of energy, while Evans dropped out of the race with an unspecified issue.
The race became rather sedate after that point, the only real source of action coming in the form of Bird, who was harassing Buemi for a few laps before the Swiss racer allowed the Brit to completely un-lap himself. Behind, Prost was inching closer to Heidfeld, while Turvey was coming under pressure from d'Ambrosio, with da Costa catching the pair of them. da Costa's teammate Frijns was also charging at the lower end of the top ten, pouncing on Piquet with a dive into turn one at the start of lap 37.
Turvey became the centre of attention in the closing stages, with d'Ambrosio and da Costa queuing up behind him with seven laps to go. Momentum carried da Costa's Andretti past the pair of them on the following tour, with two expertly timed dives into the hairpins of turn one and turn six moving him into fifth. As da Costa pulled away from the NextEV/Dragon fight, Frijns cruised up to the back of them, and duly repeated his more experienced teammate's double move.
With that the race was run, with Buemi cruising home to claim victory from di Grassi and Heidfeld, whom fended off a half-hearted challenge from Prost in the closing stages. da Costa and Frijns ran out of time to move further up the order, leaving them fifth and sixth, while d'Ambrosio finally elbowed his way past Turvey on the penultimate lap. The final points went to the two Venturis of Engel and Sarrazin, who both moved past Piquet on the penultimate lap of the race.
The final classification of the 2016 Hong Kong ePrix is displayed below, with the fastest lap setter indicated in italics, and the pole sitter shown in bold.
|2016 Hong Kong ePrix Race Result|
|Pos.||No.||Name||Team||Laps||Race Time||Fastest lap||Pts.|
|1st||9||Sébastien Buemi||Renault e.Dams||45||53:13.298||1:04.256||25|
|2nd||11||Lucas di Grassi||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||45||+2.477s||1:03.648||18|
|3rd||23||Nick Heidfeld||Mahindra Racing||45||+5.522s||1:05.085||15|
|4th||8||Nicolas Prost||Renault e.Dams||45||+7.360s||1:04.683||12|
|5th||28||António Félix da Costa||Andretti Formula E||45||+17.987s||1:04.342||10|
|6th||27||Robin Frijns||Andretti Formula E||45||+21.161s||1:04.143||8|
|7th||7||Jérôme d'Ambrosio||Dragon Racing||45||+28.443s||1:05.559||6|
|8th||88||Oliver Turvey||NextEV NIO||45||+30.355s||1:05.344||4|
|9th||5||Maro Engel||Venturi Formula E Team||45||+30.898s||1:04.390||2|
|10th||4||Stéphane Sarrazin||Venturi Formula E Team||45||+31.734s||1:04.289||1|
|11th||3||Nelson Piquet Jr.||NextEV NIO||45||+35.256s||1:04.267||3|
|12th||47||Adam Carroll||Jaguar Racing||45||+43.839s||1:04.732|
|13th||2||Sam Bird||DS Virgin Racing||45||+48.058s||1:03.372|
|14th||6||Loïc Duval||Dragon Racing||43||+2 laps||1:04.712|
|15th||19||Felix Rosenqvist||Mahindra Racing||43||+2 laps||1:02.947||1|
|Ret||66||Daniel Abt||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||34||Damage||1:03.263|
|Ret||20||Mitch Evans||Jaguar Racing||24||Gearbox||1:05.474|
|Ret||37||José María López||DS Virgin Racing||15||Accident||1:05.344|
|Ret||33||Ma Qing Hua||Techeetah||1||Damage||—|
- Indicates a driver was awarded FanBoost during the race.
- Hong Kong made its debut as a host of FIA Formula E Championship.
- Debut ePrix for: Felix Rosenqvist; José María López; Adam Carroll; Mitch Evans; Maro Engel.
- First race for Jaguar as a manufacturer.
- Also the first entry for their team Jaguar Racing.
- Penske made their debut as a manufacturer.
- Maiden ePrix for Techeetah as an entrant.
- Maiden pole position for Nelson Piquet Jr.
- Also the first pole position for NextEV NIO as an entrant.
- Seventh victory for Sébastien Buemi.
- Tenth victory for e.Dams as an entrant.
- Also the sixth triumph for Renault as a powertrain manufacturer.
- Maiden points finish for Engel.
- Rosenqvist claimed his first fastest lap.
- Also the Swede's first Championship point.
Victory for the defending Champion meant it was a perfect start to the season for Sébastien Buemi, with a seven point gap back to Lucas di Grassi after the opening round. Nick Heidfeld left the opening round in third, matching his start from season two, ahead of Nicolas Prost after their late race energy panic. António Félix da Costa and Robin Frijns battled well to start the season in the points, while pole starter Nelson Piquet Jr. found himself in ninth despite failing to score in the race.
Renault e.Dams were living up to their mantle as pre-season favourites, with Buemi's win and Prost's fourth enough to see them leave Hong Kong with a fair advantage at the top of the Teams' Standings. A nineteen point gap had been established between e.Dams and nearest challengers ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport, who were level on points with Andretti. Mahindra Racing were two points back in fourth, with NextEV NIO, Dragon Racing and Venturi also on the board.
Only point scoring drivers and teams are shown.
Videos and Images:
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- 'Piquet takes pole in Hong Kong', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 09/10/2016), http://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2016/october/piquet-takes-pole-in-hong-kong/, (Accessed 09/10/2016)
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