Long Beach holds many great memories for Piquet Jr after, winning his first ever Formula E race here last year, following in the footsteps of his father who won his first F1 GP there 35 years previously. From this, Piquet Jr then went on to win the 2014-15 Formula E Championship title. We caught up with the driver himself to discuss the forthcoming race.
EV Performance: Long Beach means a lot to you and your family: how did it feel to take your first Formula E win there last year?
Piquet Jr: It was very special. For a few races I knew we were competitive enough to achieve it and we were just waiting for that win, but it almost felt like it was meant to be that weekend, it was a great moment. It was at Long Beach that my father had won his first F1 race 35 years previously and I was wearing a replica design of his Formula 1 helmet there, which meant a lot. I also won my first FanBoost, so it was a very key weekend. In the race I had everything under control, the start was amazing, the car was great and we found something that won us the race.
EV: How significant was that race in lining up the championship title?
PJ: It was a huge moment winning our first race at Long Beach – it was the turning point of our season. We had a few good races and then won that event and it was at that moment that I thought we had a chance at the championship. The competition really got exciting then right until the very last corner of the last race. It was high pressure for us that were involved in the championship race but it must have been good for spectators and those watching on TV, as the battle really went down to the very last seconds of the season. The most thrilling moment was finding out after the finish of the last race in London that I had won the world championship. We worked so hard as a team and we did it.
EV: Your father must have been extremely proud. How did he react?
PJ: Yes of course, my father is always really proud when I get a good result. But in Long Beach, it was my father’s first F1 win, my first Formula E win and the helmet design is important. The win meant a lot to my family. Before the race my father told me to try and take some pictures of the Queen Mary and to try to stay in that hotel. We talked for ten minutes and that’s all we talked about! I didn’t make it to the Queen Mary!
EV: His Long Beach win was before you were born, and you were very young when he was competing in F1. What can you remember from that time? Do you have any standout memories?
PJ: I really don’t remember much. I was born in 1985 so I was really young when he was at the end of his time racing in F1. There are photos of me at circuits with him when I was very young and you can see I love the cars already! I probably remember more from when I moved to Brazil and he would take me to the go-kart tracks, which is when I started racing myself.
EV: How does your previous success at Long Beach affect your mind set for racing there this season? Is it a race you’re particularly looking forward to or does it add extra pressure?
PJ: It’s a race and track that I really like. It’s an iconic circuit and, having lived and raced in America for six years, I love the country so it feels like a home track. Our reality this season is that we won’t be fighting at the front unfortunately so we will go and do the best that we can.
EV: What are you hoping to achieve in the race?
PJ: We have the same approach to each race this season. We are working hard to see what improvements we can make race-to-race and we are trying different strategies to try to get the best possible out of the weekends. If we can finish in the points it would be good for us…