Kamui Kobayashi is facing an uphill challenge when he makes his Formula E debut with Andretti in Hong Kong on Saturday due to a lack of running in the electric series’ unique car.
Ex-Toyota, Sauber and Caterham Formula 1 driver Kobayashi was announced last month by Andretti as debuting in the Hong Kong double-header on a one-off deal, having only completed a short filming day run in its Formula E car after missing the official testing period.
Kobayashi’s first extensive run on a proper circuit in a Formula E car will come in practice on Saturday in Hong Kong, leaving the Japanese racer on the back foot for his debut outing.
“The preparation for myself was not brilliant. I just tried to do as much as I could do without having the proper tests,” Kobayashi said.
“I did the filming day, so it’s not on a track or a long run. I had one day in the simulator which makes me more confident with the car.
“Of course I think when I saw the simulator, I thought I knew what I need to do in the car, but it’s a different track. So let’s see tomorrow.
“I don’t really set targets, but I think need to maximize doing what I can do in a short time.”
Kobayashi is only slated to race for Andretti in Hong Kong before handing the car back to Tom Blomqvist, who was named in the seat on the entry list despite not being officially confirmed by the team.
Formula E officials are known to be keen on finding Kobayashi a full-time seat, though, but it remains unclear where the current Toyota LMP1 driver could slot in given the packed 10-team grid.
Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.
“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”
The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.
Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.
“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”
Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.