NIO Formula E has announced that Ma Qinghua has become its official reserve driver for the fourth season of the championship.
The former Techeetah racer completes the team alongside the already confirmed Oliver Turvey and Luca Filippi and will attend next weekend’s season-opener in Hong Kong in his new role.
As previously revealed by e-racing365 in October, Qinghua tested for NIO in the summer when it was evaluating race drivers for Season Four.
The team had also evaluated Adam Carroll and Harry Tincknell at Calafat in Spain, in addition to the 29-year-old Chinese driver.
“I am extremely proud to be appointed as the Reserve Driver for the NIO Formula E Team for the upcoming season,” said Qinghua
“I see NIO as an exciting new brand and rising star in the industry, having accomplished so much already in a few short years from tremendous R&D work to participation in Formula E racing.”
The Shanghai-born driver has seven Formula E races under his belt, with a best result of 11th at Battersea Park with Team Aguri in 2016.
Qinghua was integral to the smooth transition between Aguri becoming the Techeetah team for Season Three. He then took part in the first three races of that season but was replaced by Esteban Gutierrez.
“NIO is first and foremost a Chinese EV brand, so it extremely fitting to have Ma join the NIO Formula E Team and it will be great to see him back in the Paddock in Hong Kong next week,” said NIO Formula E Team Principal Gerry Hughes.
Qinghua’s Signing a Boost for Shanghai E-Prix Push
Qinghua’s appointment is to be viewed positively by Formula E Holdings, which is pushing to have a race hosted in Shanghai for Season Five.
NIO, Techeetah and the majority of manufacturers consider China to be a vital market for their commercially available electrical vehicles. They are known to have escalated pressure for a return to mainland China since the final Beijing E-Prix took place in October 2015.
Qinghua is also an ambassador for motorsport in China where he runs an academy for young drivers at his karting circuit.
NIO, however, cannot run Qinghua in January’s Marrakesh Rookie test due to the fact he has a current e-license.