Nelson Piquet Jr.
1) Long Beach means a lot to you and your family: how did it feel to take your first Formula E win there last year?
It was very special. For a few races I knew we were competitive enough to achieve it and we were just waiting for that win, but it almost felt like it was meant to be that weekend, it was a great moment. It was at Long Beach that my father had won his first F1 race 35 years previously and I was wearing a replica design of his Formula 1 helmet there, which meant a lot. I also won my first FanBoost, so it was a very key weekend. In the race I had everything under control, the start was amazing, the car was great and we found something that won us the race.
2) How significant was that race in lining up the championship title?
It was a huge moment winning our first race at Long Beach – it was the turning point of our season. We had a few good races and then won that event and it was at that moment that I thought we had a chance at the championship. The competition really got exciting then right until the very last corner of the last race. It was high pressure for us that were involved in the championship race but it must have been good for spectators and those watching on TV, as the battle really went down to the very last seconds of the season. The most thrilling moment was finding out after the finish of the last race in London that I had won the world championship. We worked so hard as a team and we did it.
3) Your father must have been extremely proud. How did he react?
Yes of course, my father is always really proud when I get a good result. But in Long Beach, it was my father’s first F1 win, my first Formula E win and the helmet design is important. The win meant a lot to my family. Before the race my father told me to try and take some pictures of the Queen Mary and to try to stay in that hotel. We talked for ten minutes and that’s all we talked about! I didn’t make it to the Queen Mary!
4) His Long Beach win was before you were born, and you were very young when he was competing in F1. What can you remember from that time? Do you have any standout memories?
I really don’t remember much. I was born in 1985 so I was really young when he was at the end of his time racing in F1. There are photos of me at circuits with him when I was very young and you can see I love the cars already! I probably remember more from when I moved to Brazil and he would take me to the go-kart tracks, which is when I started racing myself.
5) How does your previous success at Long Beach affect your mind set for racing there this season? Is it a race you’re particularly looking forward to or does it add extra pressure?
It’s a race and track that I really like. It’s an iconic circuit and, having lived and raced in America for six years, I love the country so it feels like a home track. Our reality this season is that we won’t be fighting at the front unfortunately so we will go and do the best that we can.
6) What are you hoping to achieve in the race?
We have the same approach to each race this season. We are working hard to see what improvements we can make race-to-race and we are trying different strategies to try to get the best possible out of the weekends. If we can finish in the points it would be good for us.
1) Long Beach is another new circuit for you: does track acclimatisation add extra pressure for you compared to drivers that raced last season?
“I don’t think it adds pressure, if anything it reduces it as I don’t have the track experience that all the drivers who raced in Formula E last season do. I feel I have always been able to learn new tracks quickly and it’s certainly important skill for street circuits used in Formula E.”
2) How are you preparing yourself for each race?
“There are many types of preparation, but I am consistently looking after my physical training, nutrition and mental strength to be in the best condition possible when I drive the car. In the shorter term, for each race my preparation involves studying the layout of the circuit, watching onboard videos from last season, and I have been spending some time driving the NEXTEV simulator with my engineers to arrive as well prepared as possible at the circuit.”
3) With Nelson competing – and winning – at Long Beach last year, does that help to share information and insight?
“It definitely helps to have last year’s winner in the team and we are working well together to push NEXTEV TCR forwards as a team.”
4) What will be most challenging about the event and circuit?
“From what I have heard the track is very bumpy so this will make it challenging to drive as it adds an inconsistency to the car, but I am really looking forward to racing at Long Beach as it is one of the famous American street circuits.”
5) We’re now past the midpoint in the 2015-16 calendar: what’s your aim for the second half of the season?
“It’s been a challenging season with the car package we have but my aim for the second half of the season is to maximise the potential of the equipment I have underneath me and to score more points than in the first half of the season.”
6) How important is it to get the Formula E fans behind you each race?
“It’s very important to get the Formula E fans behind you at each race as their support can have an influence in the race with the FanBoost vote so I’ll certainly be trying to sign as many autographs and speak to as many fans ahead of the race as I can.”
Source: NEXTEV TCR Racing Team