The highly-experienced Kamui Kobayashi will be one of the MS&AD Andretti Formula E drivers at the Season Four opener in Hong Kong next month.
“We are very fortunate to have a driver of Kobayashi’s calibre in the No.27 MS&AD Andretti car to start the season in Hong Kong,” said Andretti Formula E CEO Michael Andretti.
“He has shown what he can do in both Formula One and WEC, making Formula E a perfect next step. To partner one of the largest companies in Japan, MS&AD Insurance, with one of the most popular Japanese racing drivers, will be exciting to see. The passion that Japanese fans have is incredible and we expect to see that when he makes his debut in Hong Kong.”
The Japanese driver competes in the FIA World Endurance Championship and the Super Formula Championship but has competed in all forms of motor racing including Formula One, where he made 76 starts over the course of four seasons. This will be Kobayashi’s first race in the FIA Formula E championship but he is excited for a new and exciting challenge on December 2.
He said: “I would like to thank to Michael, the whole Andretti Formula E team and MS&AD insurance for giving me this wonderful opportunity to race at the Hong Kong EPRIX. I will be going to the race weekend without testing which is not an easy thing to be honest, but the team has been giving me all the support so no worrying at all and I am really looking forward to having good races there.”
Kobayashi will team up with experienced Formula E driver António Félix da Costa to complete the MS&AD Andretti line-up.
MS&AD Andretti Co-team Principal Roger Griffiths is looking forward to realizing the team’s potential for podium finishes during the new season with BMW working as Andretti’s manufacturer partner.
He said: “We have put a lot of miles on the car in testing. Performance is definitely improved. We have had some challenges with component supply but have worked through all of those. We have had much more support from the BMW engineers during the testing period and this has enabled a lot more in-depth analysis to be carried out. This will be a benefit to us in the long run. At the Valencia test (the only official test) all the cars ran extremely reliably. We had three different drivers in the car and their combined feedback gave us a lot more insight into the car’s behaviour and has defined a good direction for Hong Kong podiums. We have updates to the eMotor, the power inverters, the control electronics, the gearbox internals, the dampers to name a few.”
Roger thinks all the teams will be in for a tough season but he remains upbeat about the possibility of improvement for MS&AD Andretti.
He said: “The whole field has become incrementally stronger, more professional. We will continue to fight with the all of them. After the somewhat disappointing results of Season 3, we remain optimistic about the possibility of podiums and good solid points scoring finishes
“BMW brings resources to the MS&AD Andretti team that as an independent team we could only dream of. These are not only facilities and equipment, but also people. There is a strong group of engineers back in Munich that are looking at everything we do, giving a second opinion, offering other ideas, supporting our own conclusions. This gives us more confidence in the decisions we make and also provides them with valuable information for their entry into Formula E as a manufacturer in their own right.
“It is a challenge bringing in a new driver to Formula E with only limited experience in the car and the types of tracks we race on. But our simulator sessions have already given him an insight as to what it is he is likely to face. The other unique aspect about this season opener is that it is a double header event, a race on Saturday and another on Sunday. This will mean extra work for everyone.
“It is going to be an exciting year! The support from MS Amlin is great, the new livery looks really amazing. Having the Japanese parent company to MS Amlin engage in Formula E is a testament to the support we have had over the last two seasons. We know how passionate the Japanese are about motor sport. Hong Kong will be a very big race for everyone with it being the only Asian round in the championship, we will do what we can to bring a smile to everyone’s faces!”
Follow along with the Hong Kong ePrix double-header and the rest of the exciting Formula E season by following MS&AD Andretti on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at @MSADAndrettiFE