08 nov 19
NIO 333 FE Team have had a tough time during recent years but are seeking redemption in Season Six of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship. The racing arm of manufacturing giant NIO has been rebranded this campaign and will be looking to resurrect the form that carried Nelson Piquet Jr. to the inaugural Drivers’ title in 2014/15. Oliver Turvey and Ma Qing Hua are the men tasked with piloting the Chinese outfit back to the front of the pack.
Things can only get better for NIO after a torrid 2018/19 campaign which saw them finish bottom of the Teams’ Championship with just seven points. This was a far cry from their days of title glory with Nelson Piquet Jr. in the 2014/15 season but new owners Linsheng Racing are looking to revitalise the Chinese outfit and secure a return to the sharp end.
Reasonable reliability and better pace towards the end of last season suggested the shoots of recovery were already present before this summer’s rebranding. NIO has also traditionally yo-yoed up and down the teams’ standings from year to year, so expect a upward swing this time around as the squad get a better handle on the Gen2 regulations.
A huge bonus for the team is the continued presence of Oliver Turvey, with the Brit having stayed at NIO under its various guises since making his debut at the end of the inaugural. The 32-year-old has maintained a reputation as one of the quickest men on the grid despite limited opportunities to shine and the extent of NIO’s recovery will very much depend on his performances. Turvey is yet to clinch a maiden victory in Formula E but has come close on a number of occasions – most notably with a second-place finish after qualifying on pole in Mexico in the 2017/18 season. He was responsible for all the team’s points last campaign and will once again take responsibility for the Chinese outfit’s development.
Joining Turvey is the returning Qinghua Ma, who has previous experience of Formula E with Team Aguri and Techeetah. The 31-year-old also enjoyed a couple of outings for NIO during the 2017/18 season while he took part in valuable F1 testing sessions for both HRT and Caterham earlier in his career. Ma is the first Chinese driver to win an FIA World Championship race after his World Touring Car Championship victories for Citroen so should not be underestimated, particularly when Formula E touches down in Sanya where the home hero is expected to receive a rapturous reception.