In the next of our series of driver interviews from pre-season testing at Donington Park, earlier this month, Laura Prior had a chat with NEXTEV’s Oliver Turvey on his thoughts on EV’s, Formula E’s presence in the UK, and whether season three will see NEXTEV back on top!
EVP: So, Oliver, we’re back on the road again and I think all looking forward to season three. Tell us, what have you been up to since London? Have you managed to have a break?
“Obviously, it’s been quite a short off-season, but we’ve been busy doing our private testing with the season three car down in Spain. Also, I’ve been busy with my simulator testing with McLaren, and also racing out in Japan, so quite a busy summer for me! Had a break myself the last ten days, before this test. Had a bit of a holiday, which was nice, and ready to go again for season three.”
EVP: It’s always difficult to read into car performance at Donington, and I know you haven’t driven yet, but as you’ve taken part in the team’s private testing, how does the car feel?
“First of all, I think it’s been a big change with NEXTEV since last season, so there’s been a big effort from NEXTEV, in both the car and the team. So it’s been really nice to see, and I’m really excited to be a part of their journey, and part of the team that gave me my first opportunity in Formula E. It was a challenging season last year, but I’ve certainly seen some really good signs with the direction the team’s going. We worked hard in summer testing, between season two and three, and it seems a step forward from last year, but I’m sure everyone has made a step forward. So we have to see if we’ve made a big enough step. I think so far the signs are quite positive, but we’ll see here in Donington. I think it’s not an ideal track to compare, because it’s so fast and so different to any Formula E track. It’s important to get ready for the first race, for Hong Kong, and that’s really the main purpose of this test.”
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?
“Yeah, we tried it in testing and it’s quite a small difference. It obviously gives a different look to the car, maybe a more futuristic look, so I think it looks good. You can actually see the top element when you’re in the car, so in some ways it’s quite useful to judge where the front wing is. So, I think it’s a nice addition that Formula E have brought into the championship.”
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?
“Obviously it’s a new technology, and that’s the exciting part of Formula E. Motorsport and competition always develops technology faster, because you want to win. I think electric vehicles are becoming more and more popular, certainly in cities around the world, and I think they’re going to play an important part in the future of the transport industry. I guess it’s slightly strange when you first drive an electric vehicle, but you get used to it very quickly, and the response of electric vehicles is very direct, the torque is always there. They’re nice cars to drive around cities, and I think they’re ideal cars really.”
EVP: Despite the struggles of last season, can you share with us any highlights for you? Any good memories that stand out? London has to be up there.
“Yeah, it was a tough season, but it was my first full season in Formula E, and I just tried to maximise the potential of the package we had. I guess the first race in Beijing was kind of a surprise, and nice to get a result – finishing sixth – in the first round. After that, obviously we had a very tough season with the package we had. We had some really strong qualifying sessions and I was pleased with my pace and performance against Nelson [Piquet Jr.] after he won the championship, and I think I was getting stronger throughout the year, and when I came back to London, it was the first track I’d driven previously. We had a really strong weekend in terms of pace. I guess the highlight was the last race, the second qualifying, to qualify P3, and I guess overall… it was quite a surprise myself how good the lap was! It gives me confidence going forward, certainly with hopefully what we’ve got this season, and I think we should be in a better position.”
EVP:Looking to this season, the race calendar has changed considerably. Is there any race you’re particularly looking forward to?
“Yeah, I think there’s some really nice new cities been added to Formula E. I think obviously, starting in Hong Kong is going to be an exciting place to start. I think it’s a fantastic city. And certainly visiting some of the tracks we’ve already raced at, like Buenos Aires was a really good race last year, or both years. I think going back to Monaco – it will be my first time there in a Formula E car, and I have special memories of winning there in my first ever time in World Series, so that will be nice. Then obviously to go to Montreal and New York at the end of the season, those are going to be two fantastic double-headers to finish the season off.”
EVP: As a British driver, I wanted to ask you about the state of Formula E in the UK. As it stands, we’ve currently lost a TV contract, and London has been dropped – at least for now – from the calendar. How disappointed are you that, in a country with such a rich motorsport tradition, Formula E seems to be not in the best shape?
“I think it’s still a very new championship. I think it’s a shame not to have to race in London, as I think London is probably the world’s best, or biggest and best, cities, and obviously that’s where I’m based these days. It’s a shame not to have a home race, but equally so, I think Formula E is a world championship, a global championship, and it’s important to race all over the world. So it’s exciting to go to all these different places. Hopefully we’ll be able to have a race in the UK in future years, and I think there are British drivers in the championship, and British motorsport is very strong, so hopefully we can come back to race in the UK.
EVP: Finally, what are your goals for this season? Can we expect to finally see you on that podium?