Chinese firms behind Formula E teams excited about future

Updated 2017-07-31 09:09:03
Nelson Piquet drives for NextEv at Montreal ePrix. Photo provided by FIA Formula E to China Daily

Nelson Piquet drives for NextEv at Montreal ePrix. Photo provided by FIA Formula E to China Daily

After 12 races in nine cities around the world, including the season opener in Hong Kong, the latest Formula E championship, the third annual staging of the event, wrapped up in Montreal on the weekend.

And with the dust still settling following the electrifying finale, Chinese-backed teams are already looking forward to next season and beyond.

Team China Racing, which was rebranded as NextEV NIO and which is owned by Chinese premium electric car manufacturer NIO, has decided to unveil a new car for next season.

Gerry Hughes, team principal of NextEV, did not want to give too much away, but said testing had already started.

"We did it for specific reasons on the basis that we do feel that we're behind, in terms of maturity and the overall design concept of the car," Hughes said, "Every year is a learning curve, so it's the last year of the generation-one car and battery. Some manufactures have done new elements of cars and some with new concepts for season four, with the focus ongoing into season five."

At the moment, drivers must make a mandatory pit stop halfway through the race to change to a second car.

But with fast advances in battery technology, a mid-way car change could become a thing of the past.

"We've been using two cars and, in season five, which starts in 2018,we're going to be driving one car for the same race distance and even a little bit further, so it just goes to show how quickly the advancements of technology is allowing us to go to a one-car formula. Battery technology is one of the key areas," Hughes said.

Faraday Future Dragon Racing, which is backed by Chinese investor JiaYueting who founded electronics giant LeEco, entered the race series for the first time this season.

Dragon Racing driver Loic Duval said these are exciting times for the sport.

"We go to really important cities in the world and more car manufacturers are involved, premium brands are coming in, so it's getting more and more important and, in terms of racing, things are going to improve quite a lot because we are only at the beginning," Duval said. "Soon, we will have only one car, that's the target for the race, so things are improving really quickly and the motorsport is going to change."

The Frenchman pointed out that the team is already motivated for season four, with eyes set on faster times during qualifying and also on the development of tires.

"Qualifying has become more and more important. In recent years, you were able to start from the back and make it to the front, but now everybody has raised the game, so it is important to start from the front of the grid."

Nick Sampson, Faraday Future's senior vice-president of research development, was pleased with the team's inaugural season following a partnership between the United States manufacturer Faraday Future and Dragon Racing.

"We've really met our expectations," he said. "This is our first year that we're in with Dragon Racing and it's very much a learning period for us. We're developing, putting some technology in the cars, and working with the cars and the team to generate technology and, as time goes forward, the plan is to increase the amount of technology and we've got with the team to broaden our advantages."

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