A messy race but Nelson Piquet Jnr produces stylish drive as Jaguar bare their teeth at Hong Kong E-Prix
Brazilian claws his way up from 10th to fourth after early pile-up in Formula E season opener, while Macau Grand Prix hotshot Mortara finds the going tough
Matters didn’t go quite according to plan for Nelson Piquet Jnr on his debut for Panasonic Jaguar Racing in the first leg of the HKT Hong Kong E-Prix.
But the Brazilian warmed to the task the longer the race went on – and that augurs well for the future of the man and the British outfit in just its second season of electric racing.
“A few races need to happen so we can fix things. It was a tough race and we had to fight hard,” said the 32-year-old Piquet, who finished a fast-closing fourth behind runaway winner Sam Bird (DS Virgin Racing).
The double-header means Jaguar can keep the momentum going in race two on Sunday. Teammate Mitch Evans had – as always – shown an abundance of speed at various stages across Saturday’s practice, qualifying and racing and Piquet said Jaguar could now nestle down to dinner happy with the way things were going as the Formula E season proper begins.
Piquet jumped camps from NIO to Jaguar over the off-season, saying he wanted to be consistently challenging for podium positions, and Jaguar look to be making fast inroads into the series.
“The car has a lot of potential,” said Piquet. “And it has even more potential than it showed today. So that’s the good part.”
— Jaguar Racing (@JaguarRacing) December 2, 2017
The Brazilian was among many drivers to have trouble with getting clear radio transmissions throughout the face and said an early crash involving series newcomer Andre Lotterer of Techeetah had thrown plenty of race plans out the window.
It meant the red flags came, there was a long delay and then the field was tucked in behind the safety car for the restart.
But Piquet was still able to weave his way through the field after starting in 10th spot on the grid following an indifferent qualifying session earlier in the day.
“I think for everybody it was messy because of the red flag,” he said. “Nobody knew how many laps were left. It was a bit confusing and that threw everybody off a bit.
“I think the experienced drivers managed to take advantage of the situation and the ones who have been here for one year or so struggled a little bit with the situation.”
Put series newcomer Edoardo Mortara (Venturi Formula E Team) in that category. In was a rough and tumble day out for the Italian, a legend in these parts due to his incredible run of success across the Pearl River Delta in Macau over the years.
Street racing comes as second nature to Mortara, what with two victories in Macau’s Formula Three Grand Prix and four in its GT event but Formula E is another matter entirely, as the 30-year-old was first to admit.
He started in 19th place on the grid, finished eighth on debut and said lessons were learned. Quickly.
“It was completely different for me out there today,” said Mortara. “Nevertheless, we will learn from our mistakes. I was expecting it to be a lot easier. I was not used to not getting information from our engineers. But it’s only my first race.
“I crashed the car in the morning, started from the second last row but ended up gaining about 10 places during the race. So it’s not a bad debut but there is still a long way to go. I learned many things.”