24 Apr 20

What to expect in the first round of the ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge

This Saturday the ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge moves on to the first official round on the virtual streets of Hong Kong. Ahead of Saturday's race we pick apart some of the key talking points from the test event including Maximilian Guenther's speed, first lap carnage and Andre Lotterer's dog.

Virtual experience pays off

Maximilian Guenther and Stoffel Vandoorne are both active in the online sim racing community and this experience paid off in the test round of the ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge.

Just like in the real-world, Guenther was immediately quick in the virtual BMW i Andretti Motorsport machine, both setting a commanding lap time in Qualifying to claim the Julius Baer Pole Position, and then in the race, he didn't look back and took a dominating win over Mercedes-Benz EQ's Vandoorne.

With such a performance in the test round, Guenther is one to watch for the Race at Home Challenge title, but more important to the German driver is the opportunity to be back racing against his Formula E peers and for an honourable cause: “We want to race against each other, even if it is in the virtual world and to manage to deliver a great show to our fans. It is important why we are doing this, it’s great to use Formula E as a tool to help raise funds in support of UNICEF.”

A turn one pile-up claimed a few of the big names, but unlike the real world racing continued as normal

First turn carnage

It was almost reminiscent of Bruno Senna's accident from the 2015 Monaco E-Prix but where that race was red-flagged, in the virtual world there were no bits of digitised carbon flying everywhere and the racing continued as if nothing happened.

Crashes and collisions in the first official race of the Race at Home Challenge will now be less forgiving as the damage settings have been pushed up from 25 to 80%, meaning that any torpedo-like passes will now come with a consequence and drivers will need to be more restrained.

Panasonic Jaguar Racing's Mitch Evans acknowledged this in the pre-race press conference: "There was a lot of carnage in the first few laps. With the damage setting rising to 80% hopefully everybody will be more careful with the contact in the race and we'll see a clean race."

Comparing times

The Formula E drivers are not only going up against each other in rFactor2, but with the sim racers taking part in their own race there are bound to be lap time comparisons between the two grids.

In the test round at Monaco, Stoffel Vandoorne secured the TAG Heuer Fastest Lap prize by clocking an impressive time of 51.881 in the race, but it was a Challenge grid racer that registered the fastest lap on the day with top sim racer Olli Pahkala pipping the Belgian's fastest lap with a time of 51.625.

Will the real-world knowledge of the challenging harbourfront circuit work in the favour of the Formula E drivers or will the gamer line-up prove to be quicker?

Eduardo Mortara Hong Kong
Edoardo Mortara lapping Hong Kong - will real-world knowledge mean quicker lap times for the Formula E drivers?

The underdogs - Lotterer and Max the labrador

TAG Heuer Porsche's Andre Lotterer and his brown labrador Max stole the show in the first outing of the Race at Home Challenge, with the pair even exchanging a sparkling pink wig during the race.

Lotterer (and his faithful friend) made it to the podium with an inspired third-place finish, the German driver put on a sterling performance that included a bold, late-braking manoeuvre on Jean-Eric Vergne into the Harbour Hairpin. Despite being one of the more experienced drivers on the grid, Lotterer triumphed amongst a field of Formula E rivals with sim racing credentials, proving that no matter the car, the race or the "world" - put Lotterer behind a steering wheel and he'll be quick.

Don't forget you can find all the drivers on Twitch - catch all the banter live on the Formula E Twitch team page.

Race at Home Challenge - test round highlights

All the action will be live from 15:30 BST - don't forget to tune in