Nissan is ‘taking its time’ on driver selection for its entry into the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, according to Global Motorsports Director Michael Carcamo.
The Japanese manufacturer, which will replace sister brand Renault in the all-electric championship beginning with the 2018-19 season, has yet to declare its driver lineup for Season Five.
While it’s widely believed that former series champion Sebastien Buemi will continue with the e.dams-run squad, a number of drivers, including Andrea Pizzitola and Nissan GT Academy graduate Jann Mardenborough have been linked to the second race seat.
As revealed by e-racing365, both drivers had recently taken part in simulator sessions with the new Gen 2 car.
Carcamo, however, stressed that there’s no rush to finalize its lineup, with the current focus instead on powertrain development through both simulation and on-track testing.
“We’re taking our time to do the work that we need to do,” he said Friday during a Nissan Formula event in Brooklyn, site of this weekend’s season-ending E-Prix.
“There’s a lot of preparation that has gone into development and a lot of simulator work that’s done.
“It’s no secret that we’ve had some of our drivers working on simulator.
“The problem is there’s limited test time to get drivers into the real car to make a proper assessment.
“First things first, we want to develop our powertrain to make sure we’re ready.
“The homologation period is a lot sooner than the drivers announcement, so that’s what we’re focusing on, the powertrain and getting the car right. More on [the drivers] later.”
While not giving any specifics, such as the number of drivers they’re evaluating, Carcamo said they need two “strong” drivers in order to fight for the championship from the onset.
“I think you’ve seen what the championship has evolved into,” he said.
“Having two strong drivers is really critical for a team championship. Renault has been very successful in their campaign and you need two [drivers].
“For us that’s an important first step, to make sure we’ve got the right driver that can be with us for a while to go.”
“Pragmatic” Approach to Testing Program
Carcamo said Nissan is taking a measured approach into its on-track testing program in the build up to the start of Season Five.
Deadlines in the homologation of the powertrain, for instance, has shaped its schedule, which Carcamo declined to fully disclose other than saying they will utilize the maximum number of allocated days permitted in the regulations.
Buemi and current Renault e.dams driver Nicolas Prost, who will exit the team at the end of the season, have been the only drivers to sample Nissan’s Gen 2 contender in on-track testing so far.
“Our approach is a very pragmatic and conservative approach to making sure that we work through steps within the powertrain design so you’re eliminating some of the early risks,” Carcamo said.
“Then once those first levels of risks are completed, you can move onto your second. That’s a typical engineering approach we’re applying.
“With a couple of days of running, you can do a lot of mileage on these vehicles,” he said. “It’s also important for us to remember that the chassis and battery are also new.
“It’s not just our own powertrain; we’re doing a shakedown of the entire vehicle. We’ve been pretty impressed with the overall reliability of the whole package. It’s been quite strong.”