The NIO Formula E team has announced that Ma Qing Hua will replace Luca Filippi for the Paris E-Prix later this month.
The surprise move comes just a few days after Filippi competed in his home E-Prix in Rome where he finished 13th.
A statement made by the team this morning did not elaborate on whether Filippi would race for the team again but e-racing365 understands that significant pressure has been applied to the NIO race team in recent weeks to allow the Chinese driver to race at least once this season.
Ma previously drove for Team Aguri in Formula E, making his debut at the Les Invalides circuit in Paris in 2016.
He went on to make seven appearances, four for Aguri and then a further three for Techeetah, which effectively took over the Aguri entry at the beginning of Season Three.
“First of all, I am really happy and honoured to be back in the cockpit racing for NIO Formula E Team,” Ma said.
“Thank you to NIO for this opportunity; I am really looking forward to racing again, against some of the top drivers in the world. I will do my best to achieve the best result I can and I will see you all in Paris.”
Ma failed to score a point in his Formula E outings and was dropped by Techeetah in preference of Esteban Gutierrez. His best result was 11th at Battersea Park in July 2016.
Having tested for NIO in the summer of 2017 and then being confirmed as the team’s test and reserve driver, the Chinese racer has been drafted in to the team after a difficult debut campaign by Filippi.
The Italian scored his sole point so far in Race 1 at Hong Kong in December but has since failed to score after some on-track incidents.
Filippi has been out-qualified in every race of this season’s races so far by teammate Oliver Turvey.
However, on occasion, Filippi has looked competitive, notably at Marrakesh and at stages of last weekend’s race in Rome.
“The NIO Formula E Team is very happy to give Ma Qing Hua the opportunity to drive the NIO 003 at the Paris E-Prix,” said team principal Gerry Hughes.
“We look forward to welcoming him back in to the paddock at the forthcoming event.”
The NIO team is at the Calafat group manufacturer test this week. Oliver Turvey is believed to be completing both days behind the wheel of the team’s new Gen 2 challenger.