In the next of our interviews from Formula E’s first pre-season test at Donington Park, earlier this month, Laura Prior caught up with NEXTEV’s Nelson Piquet Jr. for a chat about his hopes for season three, and whether the team can find themselves at the top of the pack once more.
EVP: So, Nelson, what have you been up to since London? Have you managed to have a break, or have you been trying to race in every series they’ll let you!
“I’ve been busy testing Rallycross, a bit of stuff in Brazil. Yeah, not really a break; a break between races, but races are on a weekend so I can take two or three days off during the week, but not a constant two week break for example. It’s been OK, I mean, as long as I’m racing, I’m happy.”
EVP: It’s always difficult to read into car performance at Donington, but how does the car feel? Now you’ve had a chance behind the wheel?
“It’s an improvement. Maybe not the fastest car out there, but it’s an improvement from last year, so we just need to keep working at it. The important thing is when you have a good team. Obviously this is not a one-year programme, it’s a long term programme. We need to make sure we have the right people in the right place to take the right steps. We know it would be very difficult to recover from where we were last year to being the fastest car, I mean, we’re not dealing with stupid people over here – everyone is very smart, everybody has a lot of money, everybody is investing very hard, so it’s not from one day to another where you’re going to go from last to first. So it’s going to take a bit of time, but the important thing is to get a good group of people together working, and keep stepping forward every year.”
EVP: What about your thoughts on the new front wing? Do you feel there’s any aerodynamic value, or benefits, or do you think it’s purely an aesthetic decision?
“It’s heavier, it’s more expensive. It has less aerodynamic values than the old wing. So, for me, it’s not good for anything.”
EVP: With the car looking different this year, and more changes to come in seasons 4 and 5, I have to ask you, as a driver of multiple disciplines – is there anything you think, in terms of changes to the car, would make Formula E more exciting?
“No, I think the way it is is good. The tracks are good, the cars are competitive, they’re fun. It’s good the way it is.”
EVP: Formula E is crucial is pushing the development of electric road vehicles, and popularising them with the public. Do you remember the first time you drove an electric vehicle, and what your thoughts were?
“It was a Tesla, or a Prius a while ago, but until you drive a race car it’s different, you know. Road cars are road cars. It was OK. The only big thing is the noise factor of not listening to an engine, while you’re racing and concentrating. That’s the only thing that in the beginning is weird for a driver. The rest is the same.”
EVP: Looking to this season, the race calendar has changed considerably. Montreal in, NYC finale, back to Monaco again, Marrakesh. Some interesting destinations! Is there any race you’re particularly looking forward to?
“All of them. I mean, I just want to do well, we just want to get back the results that we had. Obviously at home, Monaco, it would be fun to win a race at home, but no… otherwise, Hong Kong would be important for us, for our Chinese market, but apart from that, we just want to do well in every race, regardless where it is.”
EVP: There’s been talk of a Formula E race in Brazil, but it’s yet to materialise. Do you think that a Formula E race there would be appreciated by fans, with the country’s rich motorsport history? And which city would be the most appropriate in your opinion?
“I don’t know. I’m a driver, not a promoter.”
EVP: There’s been a lot of criticism of FanBoost, with accusations of cheating going on. Some say it’s good for the fans, others say it makes a joke of the sport. What are your thoughts?
“It’s OK. I mean, there’s a lot of teams getting around it in a smart way, but to be honest, we have so many other problems at the moment that FanBoost is the least of my worries. But it’s something fun, the fans can get involved. It’s an element that brings the fans a little closer to the series, so if it’s good for fans it’s important, because at the end of the day we’re an entertainment show, we’re not just pure racing.”
EVP: Finally, what are your goals for this season? Can we finally expect to see you back on the podium again?