Lucas di Grassi clinched the 2016/17 title earlier this year after trailing Buemi for much of the campaign. The Brazilian only bagged two wins from the 12 E-Prix, but consistently scored points in every race, barring an early retirement in Paris. A win and a seventh-place finish in the last races of the season in Montreal were enough to ease him to the championship, 24 points ahead of his Swiss counterpart.
Sebastien Buemi won six of the first eight races of the 2016/17 campaign and looked to be almost home and dry. However, after missing both New York races due to World Endurance Championship commitments, 2015/16’s champion had 12 points annulled in the first Montreal race when his car failed the minimum weight tests, and his 11th place the following day was not enough to regain top spot in the standings.
Jean-Eric Vergne may have only finished fifth in last season’s championship, but he ended on a high, atop the podium after round 12 in Montreal. The Frenchman had finished second the previous day, suggesting big things to come. Most recently, he’s been seen racing a cheetah in a promotional video ahead of the new season, but he’ll be raring to resume rivalries with his more usual human counterparts in Hong Kong.
As well as the old guard, there are some new names to throw into the hat this time around, with multiple Le Mans 24 Hours winner Andre Lotterer and ex-World Endurance Championship and Formula 1 driver Neel Jani signing up.
Hong Kong will be a good gauge of how the new guys adapt to the thrills and spills of Formula E, but whilst they get used to the real thing in their first race proper, this should come down to another Buemi/di Grassi head-to-head. Vergne could push them close, but after four months to reset and take stock, the Brazilian has looked sharpest and fastest in practice and should strike the first blows of the new campaign this weekend.
Sports.net’s Top Tip
Di Grassi to win both Hong Kong E-Prix.