We have a look at the main talking points ahead of Saturday's Formula E Race at Home Challenge opener, with BMW i Andretti Motorsport’s Max Guenther favourite to succeed.
This Saturday sees the launch of the ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge – an eight-race esports competition featuring the teams and drivers from the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, as well as a selection of top gamers – in support of UNICEF. The race will be shown live on Eurosport 2 at 15:30, and ahead of the Race at Home Challenge curtain raiser, we bring you the lowdown on what to expect.
Guenther early favourite after test event domination
BMW i Andretti Motorsport’s Max Guenther dominated in victory during last weekend’s test race, setting a hot lap to claim the Julius Baer Pole Position and holding off the challenge from Stoffel Vandoorne of Mercedes-Benz EQ.
The win continues a magnificent 2020 for the 22-year-old, in which he became the youngest ever winner of a Formula E race at the Antofagasta Minerals Santiago E-Prix in January. The German will go into Saturday the early favourite alongside Vandoorne, both of whom have had success in other virtual races the past few weeks.
Unlike other motorsport virtual series such as that of MotoGP and Formula One, the ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge will be the first of its kind to feature an almost full grid of real drivers. Sam Bird of Envision Virgin Racing is the only driver on the 24-man grid who is not set to make an appearance on Saturday, replaced instead by test driver Nick Cassidy.
Pressure of a race royale to add to drama
The format of the race will be a 15-lap ‘race royale’ in which the last placed driver after each lap will be eliminated until only 12 remain for a final sprint to the line.
The race will have one lap at the start of the race before elimination begins, and one extra lap at the end with no elimination ensuring the racing will be fast and furious, and perhaps even making it as unpredictable as Formula E itself. With realistic damage up to 80 per cent of a normal race there will be little margin for error.
With the integration of driver cameras on their gaming rigs along with the classic Formula E graphics fans will be given the inside look into how professional drivers race like never before.
Gamers and guests to join the fun
Alongside the main race will be a challenger grid of gamers and other guest racing drivers, with the winning gamer making the transition from the gaming world to secure real-life track time on a Formula E circuit during a race weekend.
One of the drivers set to feature in the challenger grid will be Charlie Martin, Stonewall’s first sporting ambassador. Martin was due to be racing in the Le Mans series and is the first transgender driver to be racing with Formula E.
The top-10 gamers will automatically qualify for Round Two and the winning gamer overall will swap the online world for the real world when they get to drive the real Formula E race car at a race weekend.
Iconic circuits return to fore
Formula E is known for racing in iconic locations due to its sustainability credentials. Whether it be under the nose of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, in view of the Manhattan skyline of New York or on the iconic Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez race circuit in Mexico City.
With races currently on hiatus, the ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge will give fans the next best thing and the drivers agree with Guenther admitting it helps them ‘maintain the highest levels possible’.
This Saturday, the drivers will be racing on the street circuit of Hong Kong, often one of the most spectacular settings for a race along the Hong Kong Central Harbourfront.
Supporting a noble cause and welcoming a special super fan
The announcement of the ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge was the first major fundraising initiative of its partnership with UNICEF to support the charity’s global coronavirus appeal.
As part of this Formula E will be welcoming global superstar, UNICEF ambassador and Formula E fan, Rita Ora to the broadcast pre-race to discuss the competition and cheer on her favourite drivers who she met on her visit to the Santiago E-Prix last year.
With a staggering 1.5 billion children missing out on education due to school closures Formula E have joined forces with UNICEF to keep education accessible for children around the world by raising funds and awareness through the online series.
Targeted projects will also include improving the supply of protective equipment for frontline hospital staff and care workers following up from driver Alexander Sims’ own work delivering equipment in his local area.
Watch the ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge live on Eurosport 2 at 15:30 on Saturday, 25 April