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Hong Kong Thursday Notebook

Sam Smith’s Thursday notebook from Hong Kong, site of this weekend’s FIA Formula E Championship season opener…

Photo: Formula E

***The amendment to the qualifying format, as revealed by e-racing365 earlier this month, is expected to be announced on Friday after a vote for the change was held earlier this week. Clarification of the change, which will see drivers grouped together according to their championship position, is expected to take effect from Round Two on Sunday onwards. One randomly chosen driver from each group will conduct the draw for which slot his group will take part in.

***2016 F1 World Champion Nico Rosberg will be in attendance for his very first Formula E race this weekend representing the championship’s new official clothing partner Hugo Boss. Rosberg visited the Formula E offices in London last July and is known to have an interest in the series for a possible role, rumored to be centered around Mercedes’ future entry.

*** Renault tech chief Vincent Gaillardot is set to remain with the e.dams operation after the upcoming season despite the entry changing in to a Nissan-branded squad. E.dams boss Jean-Paul Driot told e-racing365: “Vincent will stay with us, I am absolutely sure of this.”

***Macanese driver Andre Couto will be the Driver Advisor to the Stewards this weekend. Couto, the 2015 Japanese GT champion, makes his first appearance in the role which has previously been filled by ex-March F1 driver Paul Belmondo and current Bentley GT3 racer Andy Soucek.

***Former Minardi F1 driver Alex Yoong is set to join the roster for Driver Advisors to the Stewards this season. The Malaysian will join Soucek, Couto, Belmondo, Alex Premat and Felipe Giaffone in the role at selected races.

***The Turns 3 and 4 chicane has been tightened up to avoid repeats of incidents that befell Robin Frijns and Nelson Piquet Jr. last season. The FIA’s Frederic Espinos told e-racing365 that the changes were made to “make the corner more interesting. It will add to the lap time but it was the better solution.”

***The changes to the chicane have been integrated into simulation programs, according to DS Virgin driver Alex Lynn. “We have done comparison tests with the 2016 and 2017 configurations. It is more satisfying to drive now that is for sure. I think it will add approximately one to one and a half seconds to the lap time. Something in that area.”

***The replacements for outgoing Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler’s Franco Chiocchetti, who engineered Lucas di Grassi, are Markus Michelberger and Florian Modlinger. Michelberger was previously technical project leader for the Bentley ABT team and Modlinger was also named as technical director at ABT.

***NIO driver Oliver Turvey traveled to Hong Kong direct from Abu Dhabi where he was testing for the McLaren F1 team in its final runs with the infamous Honda powerplant.

***Mahindra’s new development driver Sam Dejonghe recently got his first taste of Formula E power during a filming day test in Spain. The Belgian, who raced in the Auto GP series in 2014, came to the team via its partnership with the Belgian materials and recycling business Umicore.

***Andy Brown, who joined Dragon Racing last month and who is scheduled to engineer Neel Jani this season, is not attendance with the American squad this weekend due to personal reasons.

***Dragon showed off its new liveries today with Jerome d’Ambrosio’s Penske car in a similar ‘electric maroon’ that was run in Season Two and Neel Jani’s car in a predominantly white design.

***NIO will entertain Game of Thrones star Liam Cunningham this weekend. The Irish actor plays Davos Seaworth in the hit series. NIO will also have support from its founders William Li and Lihong Qin in Hong Kong.

***Techeetah announced the Peninsula hotel chain as a partner this weekend. Built in 1928, the hotel has featured in several films including ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ and ‘The Dark Knight.’

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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