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NIO 333 Considering Chinese Driver

New-look NIO 333 is looking at the potential of running a Chinese driver this season…

Photo: NIO

A Chinese driver allied to Oliver Turvey at the newly named NIO 333 squad could form the driving attack for the team in the upcoming ABB FIA Formula E Championship season.

The team, which is about to be acquired by Hong Kong-based company Brilliance in Excellence, is considering a Chinese racer to be part of the new-look team for the 2019-20 campaign.

For the last eight weeks the team, now known as NIO 333, has been run by BIE executives who were given the go-ahead by NIO founder William Li to restructure the team.

They are set to make a decision this week on whether a Chinese driver will run with the squad at the Valencia test next month and potentially partner Turvey who is believed to be under contract for the season ahead.

According to BIE chief executive Vincent Wang, talks with several drivers are currently ongoing.

“We are under a lot of discussions with drivers about next season but we would rally want to have a Chinese driver,” Wang told e-racing365.

While Wang was not willing to name specific drivers, e-racing365 understands that three potential racers are being considered for a test and possibly a race seat.

These are former NIO racer Ma Qing Hua and Renault young drivers Guanyu Zhou and Ye Yifei, who compete in FIA Formula 2 and FIA Formula 3 this season, respectively.

Ma is at present considered the most likely to get a seat alongside Turvey due to the unlikeliness of the two Renault-contracted drivers being freed up to race for the new-look team.

Thirty-one-year-old Ma started three races for NIO during the 2017-18 season when he replaced Luca Filippi temporarily at Paris and then subbed for an injured Turvey in both New York City races.

Prior to that he competed in four E-Prixs for Team Aguri in 2016 and then with Techeetah at the beginning of the 2016-17 campaign. His best result was 11th in the first of the two London E-Prixs in July 2016.

E-racing365 understands that Tom Dillmann is still in the frame to continue with the team and could test alongside Turvey in Valencia next month.

QEV Technologies Position Still Unclear

The precise position on whether the QEV Technologies company will be actively involved in the NIO 333 operation is still not completely decided.

According to Wang, the Spanish firm is presently acting as a consultant and is likely to be used as such in some elements of the teams’ engineering structure.

“We plan to work in collaboration with QEV and they will help with engineering,” confirmed Wang.

“The majority of staff will be based in the UK and QEV will help in some areas.”

QEV, which is based in Barcelona, formerly counted Campos Racing as one of its shareholders. The team has been involved in Formula E since its inception, initially with the Team China Racing entity and then as an engineering and operations provider to Mahindra Racing.

Former Mahindra team manager Joan Orus is presently believed to be working with the team in a consultancy capacity, as is industry veteran Roberto Costa who was previously Oliver Turvey’s engineer in the second and third Formula E seasons.

Meanwhile, Mahindra is set to keep on some personnel contracted from QEV. However, Jerome d’Ambrosio’s 2018-19 engineer Andres Castillo’s future is less clear and the Spaniard does not yet have a confirmed position for the new season.

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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