16 July 2018: Formula E returned to New York City this week for the closing rounds of the fourth season of the all-electric street racing championship. It was a rollercoaster finale event for the NIO Formula E Team, with all three of its racing drivers taking to the track.
On the modified Red Hook Circuit layout for 2018, Round 11 of the 2017/18 ABB FIA Formula E Championship saw #16 NIO 003 British racing driver Oliver Turvey receive a hand fracture during an incident in second practice session. The injury resulted in his withdrawal from the weekend’s proceedings by the Stewards of the Course, as a result NIO Formula E Team Reserve Driver, Ma Qinghua, was permitted to step in to his role in the #16 challenger for the final Round of the season.
Sunday morning brought with it rain that was to persist up until the start of the season finale contest. Italian-driver, Luca Filippi in the sister #68 NIO 003, who had raced in solo on Saturday afternoon for the NIO Formula E Team to deliver a P15 finish, now lined up alongside Ma to start the concluding round on the 2017-18 calendar from fifteenth and nineteenth places respectively. A coming together with da Costa sadly resulted in an early retirement for Luca, however Ma enjoyed a relatively smooth competition to bring the #16 NIO 003 home in P13.
Oliver Turvey (#16 NIO 003)
“Although it was a shame to end the season with an unfortunate injury in New York, I feel we have had strong pace all season and consistently qualified in the Top Ten. As a team, we made a step forward with our package in the race and have been able to convert our qualifying into strong race results, scoring points regularly. The highlight of the season was our first podium in Mexico City which was a very proud moment for me and the NIO Formula E Team.”
Ma Qinghua (Reserve Driver #16 NIO 003)
“We have just finished the race in New York City, the last race of the season. It was quite a tough day for me, starting in the wet, which is quite tricky to drive and we don’t have much data of this situation. I tried to learn as fast as possible, but when we got the pace right, it changed to dry conditions in the race. Again, it was a case of starting over for me, trying to learn and fight at the same time which is not a great thing. But I really enjoyed it! The track is quite challenging and today the race was tough because it was the end of the season and everyone tried to fight even more than before - everyone was giving everything. I think that it was positive for me. I finished 13th and got some mileage, experience and collected date on the track for the team, so I think it was a nice journey for us and I am looking forward to the future and hopefully Oliver can recover soon. Best wishes for him.”
Luca Filippi (#68 NIO 003)
“My first Formula E season just ended. It has been a bit of a rollercoaster this year. I had a great experience with the NIO guys and I really feel that we built a very strong team and very strong atmosphere together with Oliver and everyone. We probably wanted to achieve a little more in the points results. Sometimes I have been unlucky, sometimes qualifying hasn’t been as good as I wanted, so qualifying is a key point I want to improve on for next year. This weekend I was quite competitive and there was a good learning curve over the last two races, so from this point of view, I feel very positive. I want to thank everyone for their support and faith this season.”
Gérry Hughes, Team Principal, NIO Formula E Team
“The NYC E-Prix has been one of mixed emotions for the NIO Formula E Team and certainly not the race event that we hoped for coming in to this weekend. Obviously, Oliver’s injury during practice session two put paid to the rest of his weekend, and this was a bitter sweet pill to swallow given his pace up to that point in the weekend.
The rest of the day was a bit of a non-event for the team, where the focus for us was to hold station in the Teams’ Championship, whilst only racing with one car. With no change in the championship order at close of play the team switched focus to get Ma settled back in to the team in order that he could substitute for the injured Turvey.
Unfortunately, Sunday’s weather posed particularly difficult track conditions for all drivers and this certainly did nothing to aide Ma whilst he learnt the circuit and reacclimatised himself in the NIO 003. With both drivers out in the first Qualifying Session things were always going to be difficult for Luca and Ma, but Luca equipped himself well in the session, whilst Ma managed to damage his car on the warm-up lap effectively ending his chances of putting in a decent showing in what amounted to very changeable track conditions.
Today’s race was another mixed bag of accidents and incidents, one of which forced the early retirement of Luca when he came together with da Costa. Meanwhile, Ma had a reasonably trouble-free race for the NIO Formula E Team, bringing car #16 home in 13th position.
In summary, Season 4 has certainly not brought the kind of results that we have hoped for going in to the season opener in Hong Kong. However, having said that, we have continued to learn a great deal about racing in Formula E whilst continuing to mature as an operational team. It is true to say that we will take all of the experiences gleaned from Season 4 and put them to good effect to come back bigger, stronger and faster for Season 5.”