While teams and drivers were quietly testing at Donington Park – between the public pre-season tests – Nelson Piquet jr. revealed himself on social media. He tested the China Racing Formula E electric car twice before he completed the fifth and final pre-season test on August 19. ElectricAutosport.com asked the popular Brazilian driver a few questions in the tent behind the pit box where data was being analysed.
The former Formula 1 star nowadays comfortably leads the Red Bull World Rallycross Championship and enjoys his stay in the United States. A life after F1 has clearly drawn him to America. “That has still my priority,” he admitted. “I’m still pursuing a career in Nascar and Indycar.” But what about Formula E? He just committed to Team China Racing. “It will be my second hobby. It fits perfectly in my calendar and keeps me busy. I’m getting paid well too.”
Piquet jr. is honest and he won’t be the only one that has been attracted to prize money up to five million dollar, which is often shared with the driver, salary and powerful backing. “Qualcomm is one of my main sponsors and they wanted me to do this. And I obviously want to help them out,” says Piquet jr. who also took Formula E’s BMW i8 safety car – using Qualcomm’s wireless charging technology – for a spin too.
Team China Racing was one of the two teams to have vacant race seats at the time Piquet jr. got in touch. “I’m trying to help the team as best as possible, providing feedback to the engineers in order to develop the car. There is much to learn as we are in such an early stage of the championship.”
Can he beat his rivals in Beijing? “Well, everything within the team and car has to work together. Who knows,” he said. The inaugural ePrix takes place on September 13 in Beijing. Nelson Piquet jr. will be racing next to team mate and local hero Ho-Pin Tung.