To steal a famous football cliché and relay it to motorsport, you could say that the Santiago e-Prix was a game of two halves for the NIO 333 FE Team, partnered by Acronis.
The first half, as in practice and qualifying, represented an excellent effort, with British driver Oliver Turvey using all his experience to finish in the top 5 in qualifying and thus make it into the Super Pole shootout. It represented the best start to a weekend since Berlin in 2018 for the Chinese outfit.
Amazing to be back in Superpole 😃 that felt good! Starting the race P5, will be tough with the hot conditions but let’s see what we can do from there #SantiagoEPrix #ABBFormulaE #NIO333FE https://t.co/l2pMfjKrVh
— Oliver Turvey (@OliverTurvey) January 18, 2020
And, when the lights went out to signal the start of the race proper, Turvey also made a good start, overtaking Venturi’s Felipe Massa to run a strong fourth in the early stages before the car’s race pace deserted him and he was shuffled back down the pack to finish just out of the points in 12th position.
“I think we did a good job as a team in Free Practice to find improvements in the car, in terms of set up and also in the software setting for flying laps,” said Turvey afterward.” I was really pleased with my Qualifying lap to get into the Super Pole, to qualify P5 was an amazing achievement in our second weekend as a team. In the race, we had a good start. I managed to get up to P4 and hold my position for the opening laps. As the race evolved, we were a bit struggling on race pace, and had few issues in the car. It was tough to keep the pace, we will analyze the race and learn from it and come back stronger in the next round.”
Regardless of the end result, the qualifying performance showed the potential of the car for races to come, and Team CEO Vincent Wang is optimistic the team can make steady improvements during the course of the season.
“We left Saudi Arabia knowing the work we need to put in to close the gap and to prepare for the Santiago ePrix,” commented Wang. “Today’s performance shows the progress is solid and even surprise the whole paddock. The race pace is a reflection of where we stand at this stage and also shows the improvement direction. Despite the time difference and the lack of sleep, the up and down of the weekend is enjoyable to me as the CEO. Our two drivers both showed their great drive this weekend. Oliver proofs his world class ability while Ma showing his top quality amongst the Chinese drivers. I hope we can all be patient while Ma is still familiarizing with the Gen 2 car.”
It's a weekend with emotions. Oliver did an amazing qualifying starting P5 and finished P12 after a chaotic race. Ma missed the qualifying session because of a crash in FP2 and finished at P16 by starting from the last. The faith of never giving up remains always in heart! 💪🏼 pic.twitter.com/MSYqQtUaY9
— NIO 333 Formula E Team (@NIO333FormulaE) January 18, 2020