Talking points from the opening round of the Formula E Race at Home Challenge, as young pretender Max Guenther showed the older heads how it is done.
Live sport returned to our Eurosport screens this Saturday with the Round One of the ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge in support of UNICEF. Here are your talking points from a dramatic online race along the Hong Kong Central Harbourfront.
BMW i Andretti Motorsport’s Max Guenther followed up his domination in last weekend’s test event to win Round One of the ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge with a stylish victory in Hong Kong. Guenther began the race in third position and took advantage as pole setter Stoffel Vandoorne suffered a collision and finished fifth.
The pair were the clear favourites heading into the race having impressed in the test event and having shown good form in other online racing series in previous weeks. It was Guenther though who stole the show with a controlled drive after having taken the lead over the ex-McLaren man, emphasising the need to “stay at the very top” after the race.
But expect the Mercedes-Benz EQ man to bounce back in what looks set to be a two-horse race for the ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge title.
Formula E: Highlights as Maximilian Guenther wins Race at Home opener
Youth triumphs over experience
As 22-year-old Guenther cruised to victory, the big names in the real-life championship struggled in the new format.
Reigning Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne, on his 30th birthday, as well as his DS TECHEETAH team-mate and current ABB FIA Formula E Championship leader Antonio Felix da Costa and Season 2 champion Sebastien Buemi of Nissan e.dams were also removed under the race royale format.
A race royale ensures the last placed driver after each lap was eliminated until only 12 remained for a final sprint to the line.
Nick Cassidy flies in place of Bird
The only driver from the 24-man Formula E grid not to begin the race was Sam Bird of Envision Virgin Racing who was replaced by his team’s test driver Nick Cassidy for the opening race before Bird returns next week.
But that return might be in doubt with the New Zealand man pushing Guenther all the way to finish as runner-up. Cassidy remained within a second of Guenther for most of the race and was ready to pounce if the German slipped up.
It did not come to pass, but Cassidy has come out of the blue to set himself as a worthy replacement and perhaps a worthy challenger in the ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge.
Rita Ora joins race build up
It was revealed on Thursday that Formula E fan and UNICEF ambassador Rita Ora was to be involved in the pre-race build up.
Ora visited the 2019 Antofagasta Minerals Santiago E-Prix and spoke about the partnership between UNICEF and the ABB Formula E Race at Home challenge to raise funds for the charity’s global coronavirus appeal.
“I have been a UNICEF ambassador since 2013, and it is so exciting to have the Formula E family collaborating, it is such a powerful force to really get the message out there,” said Ora.
Rogers sets the pace in the Challenger Grid
The ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenger is also giving the opportunity for some of the best sim racers on the planet the opportunity to show their skills on the rFactor 2 simulator software being used by the drivers.
Gamers were able to set their times on the simulator at home in the week previous with the best times qualifying them for the race – won by Australia’s Joshua Rogers. The top-10 racers from Round One will automatically qualify for next weekend’s race while gamers across the world will have another opportunity this week to fill out the grid.
And there is a special prize at the end for the Championship winning gamer – the chance to drive the real-life Formula E race car at a ABB FIA Formula E Championship race weekend in the future.