Interview: Gerry Hughes
The clock is ticking for the start of a brand new ABB Formula E Championship
Tomorrow the long awaited Formula E Season 5 will kick off with a brand new car and a new set of rules.
In the meantime, the interview I had the chance to do with Gerry Hughes, Head of NIO Performance Programme & NIO Formula E Team Principal at the pre-season test in Valencia, can give us a better perspective of the team and the second generation car, ready to shine in the Ad Diriyadh E-Prix for the first time ever.
About the team preparation for the upcoming season:
Gerry Hughes: "As a team, we are effectively going into our third season together, we´re building a team, and I know from my experience of doing this for thirty years, it doesn't happen overnight. We have to continue to grow as a team, and to have the right level of resource. We have BMW coming into the sport now, with Porsche and Mercedes in season sixth, we have to make sure that we have the resources to compete at the same level as those guys."
For me this is a journey, it not a sprint race and it takes some time to build up a team but both, from the technology point of view to the level of competitiveness I feel more confident that I did twelve months ago.
I think everybody is feeling a little bit of the pressure up and down the pit lane, giving the fact that it is a new car.
We´re going to a new circuit as the start to season five, it is a lot of unknowns, and there´s never enough time to prepare, you just have to be able to go racing with what you know.
I think it´s where all of the teams and manufacturers are at the moment.
About the team´s driver line-up: Tom Dillmann and Oliver Turvey
Tom has had some time to acclimatize not just to the second generation car but also to the team. He was a late signing, but he tested with the team over the course of the summer. He effectively had the opportunity to do that because Oliver (Turvey) was still out until very late in the summer, with the injury he sustained in New York.
They both have had an amount of time in the car it´s very different from the previous generation car.
So far I´m very happy with the drivers individually and also as a pairing.
It´s never easy to bring a new driver into Formula E, or into a team. It´s very difficult to select drivers in Formula E because it´s a very different Formula.
We were very pleased that Tom (Dillmann) was available, with him as an individual, coming into the team, working well with the engineers. He's a very clever guy, articulate, bright, and he's quick, so makes it easy.
He has had some time in the series before with Venturi, which always helps and that´s what put him on our radar, now I´m very happy he´s able to join the team, going to season five I feel a lot more confident with our driver´s pairing based with the experiences from last year.
On the race simulation at the pre-season test:
Unfortunately, Tom got picked from behind and hit the car in front of him, so we had to put him out of the simulation to repair the car and put him back out again.
Cecilia Demartini - Pre-season test
Every lap we can complete, with these cars, gives us more information, more data for the engineers to look at.
The simulation is not all plain sighting it goes to drivers to try to get an understanding, and also the teams, as to how the attack mode is going to work.
And also for the FIA to get an understanding of how do they place it, and ultimately, what it is going to be as a spectacle for the spectator. With respect to the race, I don´t think it would be any less of a spectacle for the fans just because they´re not doing the car change.
It´s a big car, a lot of bodywork, which is easily damaged, this is a wide circuit, it´s not like Monaco or New York, it is going to be interesting.