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Long-Term NIO Plans Modify Hughes’ Role

NIO team principal Gerry Hughes to take on more long-term focus this season…

Photo: NIO

NIO team principal Gerry Hughes has undertaken a revised role in the team which will see him focus more on long-term organizational plans for the Chinese manufacturer.

Hughes, who comes predominantly from an engineering background, is set to take on a more overarching management role with a view to strengthening the team’s technical and operational resources.

NIO will enter its second official season in Formula E next month after metamorphosing from the NextEV NIO entrant name in 2017.

Hughes joined the NextEV outfit in Dec. 2015 as chief performance engineer and took on the acting team principal role in Nov. 2016 after the death of NextEV’s co-president Dr. Martin Leach.

Hughes will still hold the team principal title and attend all races in the 2018-19 season, but has been tasked with forming a permanent structure for the team as it takes on more established automotive manufacturers in Formula E.

“I have taken a further step back from engineering and front-line operations which I find quite difficult to do as I am first and foremost an engineer and I’m a competitive one at that,” Hughes told e-racing365.

“For me it is now about building the organization to gear up in terms of resources and we need to make sure we have those pillars of strength throughout the organization.

“This is in engineering and operations experts, but engineering is our key focus because that is where the performance is.”

The former Cosworth, Jordan and Super Aguri engineer has already added engineering strength to NIO, such as bringing in former Williams and Lotus F1 engineer Christian Silk as performance program racing director.

“We have a great team here and everyone is gelling well together, we have had one or two changes as any organization has but we are continuing to build the core group of people,” he said.

“I’ve got medium to long-term plans for the team and I keep telling myself it’s not a sprint race and that it’s an endurance journey and we are firmly focused on it to continually improve.”

Although Hughes would not give specific details on plans for NIO to have a centralized UK base, e-racing365 believes that plans are being made to relocate.

It is currently based in the original Donington Park Formula E units and extended its working area last year when it acquired Andretti’s offices.

Andretti itself moved into the former Virgin and Venturi units after they moved to Silverstone and Monaco, respectively.

“We’ve really grown up from those early days in early 2016 when I first walked in to the workshop in Donington,” said Hughes.

“We are quite fragmented with the head office in London, the technology headquarters at the Begbrooke Science Park in Oxfordshire and the race team up in Donington.

“It is fair to say that as we grow and move forward we will be consolidating but you’ll just have to watch this space over those plans.”

Sam Smith is e-racing365's Formula E Editor. A 20-year veteran in motorsports media, including press officer roles in both the FIA Sportscar Championship and at Lola Group, Smith is a well-known face in the Formula E paddock, where he served as series editor for Motorsport.com from 2014-17. Contact Sam

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