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HK Cancellation “Right Decision”; Santiago Disorder Monitored

Formula E forced to deal with socio-political unrest and key decisions on 2019-20 calendar…

Photo: Formula E

Two Formula E team principals have backed the decision for the championship not to hold a race in Hong Kong next year.

The original date for a fourth edition of the Hong Kong E-Prix on March 1 was canceled earlier this month after the safety of teams could not be guaranteed.

Although Formula E has not publicly commented on the cancellation it is believed that it followed regional advice on not racing in 2020 while the local socio-political situation plays out.

Hong Kong and the Kowloon district witnessed more protests and clashes on its streets last weekend between protesters and authorities.

Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E team principal Ian James said that he fully supported the swift action taken by Formula E Holdings and its Asian partner Enova Holdings, which was instrumental in informing the call to not race.

“I take the alliance with the other team principals, it is a fantastic race, great location,” James told e-racing365.

“China is a key market for us a brand of course, Hong Kong is just a great place to be shown and to be represented. We weren’t involved in the decision and I think it is correct that that’s the way.

“The decision that has been taken I fully respect. I spoke the week before last with our market out there, that we weren’t racing and to know that they went to the season five event – they thought it was a great event.”

Panasonic Jaguar Racing director James Barclay concurerd with his counterpart James, saying that the difficult call to cancel the E-Prix was the correct one.

“It is a real shame about Hong Kong, it’s one of the jewels in the crown really,” Barclay told e-racing365.

“Clearly though it was the right decision by Formula E. You have to make the call early and have an alternative plan in place for this season.

“So we were fully supportive from our side, and hopefully things can be peacefully resolved so we can go back to Hong Kong.”

Volatile Socio-Political Santiago Situation Being Monitored

Current social and political volatility in a number of global cities could further disrupt races with an official state of emergency called in Santiago on Friday after significant rioting in the city.

This is believed to have been triggered by public transport price hikes in recent weeks and other social issues in the Chilean capital which is due to host the second round of the season on Jan. 18.

A number of politically symbolic buildings were damaged in the unrest, including the headquarters of official Formula E partner Enel, which saw its central offices set on fire.

The Chilean military was called onto the city streets for the first time since 2010 when the city suffered in the after effects of a large earthquake.

The violence spread to neighboring cities throughout the weekend with several people reported to have been killed and injured in violent disorder incidents.

Formula E is believed to be closely monitoring the situation in Santiago which will be in the public eye later this year when the United Nations Climate Change Conference takes place at the Parque Bicentenario de Cerrillos in December.

In addition to Santiago, large-scale demonstrations around political turmoil have also seen city centre disruption in London, Paris and Berlin in recent months.

Should the disorder continue and escalate in Santiago and trigger another cancellation, Formula E would be forced to make a quick replacement necessary.

The Punta del Este E-Prix filled a similar void in March 2018 after a race in Sao Paulo was canceled in December 2017. However, it is believed to be unlikely that such a scenario would be achievable this season if Formula E was unable to race in Santiago.

The all-electric championship has been forced into an eight-week gap between its first and second rounds this season after a date originally set for Dec. 14 was scrapped.

This was largely as a result of the Jakarta E-Prix being confirmed for June but an additional consideration is believed to have been made to avoid a direct clash with the FIA World Endurance Championship’s 8 Hours of Bahrain the same weekend.

Sam Smith is e-racing365's Formula E Editor. A 20-year veteran in motorsports media, including press officer roles in both the FIA Sportscar Championship and at Lola Group, Smith is a well-known face in the Formula E paddock, where he served as series editor for Motorsport.com from 2014-17. Contact Sam

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