NextEV Formula E Team: London ePrix Race 1 Report

Round nine, the first of two races at the double-header season finale of the 2015/16 FIA Formula E Championship, took place today on the city centre streets of London, UK.  The London ePrix at Battersea Park saw the NextEV TCR Formula E Team record its best qualifying result of the season; with Oliver Turvey starting P3. Unfortunately, Nelson Piquet Jr suffered from a technical problem in qualifying and was forced to start at the back of the grid.  Nelson and Oliver finished in 14th and DNF respectively, after Oliver retired on lap 32. The team scored two Championship points as Nelson won the Visa Fastest Lap Award after setting the quickest lap of the race.

Nelson had a solid start to the day, finishing sixth in the first free practice session. In qualifying, he was drawn out in group four but his chance of a strong qualifying position was scuppered as heavy rain had fallen ahead of his session. Nelson faced further issues qualifying when his car suffered a technical problem, which saw him start the race in P18. Nelson had a good start, and was able to conserve energy better than any other driver for the first part of the race.  As a result, he was able to stay out a lap longer than many other drivers.  By lap 24 he had moved up through the pack to P14, setting the fastest lap of the race along the way, and securing two Championship points. After 33 laps of racing, Nelson crossed the finish line in P14.

Oliver also demonstrated good pace during the practice sessions; finishing seventh in the first free practice session of the day. He was drawn out in the second group of qualifying, and set the second fastest time.  Heavy rain started immediately after his session ended, and Oliver went through to the Super Pole; the first of the season for the NextEV TCR Formula E team. Oliver went on to set the third fastest time of the Super Pole group.  The British driver was able to maintain P3 through the first half of the race and, after a flawless pitstop, was running P3. On lap 19 it began to rain, marking the first wet race in Formula E’s history.  A lap later, the safety car was brought out following an accident between Daniel Abt and Robin Frjins.  The safety car came in after three laps, and Oliver was forced to fend off an aggressively chasing Jean Eric Verne, who repeatedly hit the rear end of Oliver’s car. On lap 32, Oliver’s race was brought to a premature end when he locked up his tyres and made contact with the wall.  

Nelson Piquet Jr (Car #1): “It’s great to be back here in London, where I have such special memories and, for me, it’s one of the best tracks. We had a software problem in qualifying, which meant we couldn’t qualify, so our plan was to try for Visa fastest lap if a top ten finish wasn’t possible. It’s great that we managed to achieve that and we accomplished something good. We got a couple of points, which is important, and we want to try to finish the season on a high because we need to pick up the momentum to have a strong off-season and start season three well.” 

Oliver Turvey (Car #88): “I had a good start and the first stint went well, with us staying in P3. We then had a good pitstop and maintained third position in the second stint. It was a really solid race and I was defending position well. I was keeping hold of P3 but then Vergne was being very aggressive and drove into the back of me a few times towards the end of the race, which damaged the rear wing and rear diffuser and the car didn’t feel the same after then. Three laps before the end I locked the rear tyres and made contact with the wall. This meant the race was over which is really disappointing as it was looking good for a podium finish at my home race.”

Gerry Hughes, NextEV TCR Formula E Team: "It’s unfortunate that Oliver wasn’t able to hold onto third after a very good run in both stints. It was a very disappointing day for him but we will come back strong tomorrow. Nelson unfortunately started at the back of grid after his qualifying issue so was left with few opportunities today but, coming away with two Championship points for the fastest lap of the race, is certainly a positive result for him.”

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Rebecca Banks
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