Nelson Piquet Jr became the inaugural FIA Formula E champion back in 2015, securing the drivers’ title by just one point over Sebastien Buemi during a nail-biting season finale at Battersea Park, London. That season he clinched two race wins and started his Formula E career on a high, with expectations becoming bigger race by race.
Unfortunately for Piquet, a former F1 driver, his impressive performance didn’t continue into the next season and with a disappointing car resulting in poor results, his time at the top of the grid began to become a distant memory. Despite being able to secure a surprise pole position in the season opener at Hong Kong for season three, he finished last season 11th in the championship standings with just 33 points and a total of seven zero-point finishes.
A shake up was necessary and over the summer break it was confirmed that Piquet would be joining Panasonic Jaguar Racing for season four, partnering current Jaguar driver Mitch Evans. A new challenge, a new team and something that seemed essential to keep Piquet motivated and the momentum and passion for Formula E boiling away.
“The move wasn’t to keep in Formula E, I just felt that it was time to do something different,” Piquet tells me at season four pre-season testing at Valencia.
“I have had two very tough, stressful seasons, the last two ones, and I thought it was time for a change.
“This is an amazing opportunity and to be racing with such a great manufacturer like Jaguar. The timing was right and it was the right place to go.”
With Jaguar making their Formula E debut last season, their entry into Formula E being a return to racing for the iconic motorsport and motorcar brand, the pace of the British team was slow and it is fair to say season three was a learning curve for the team.
“Part of racing is that everybody needs to work, they need to get better, everybody wants to win and it doesn’t matter if we are winning races, running fifth or running last – we all have to keep working hard. It’s essential to keep improving because we are dealing with a lot of good drivers, a lot of good teams, a lot of smart engineers, so we never can stop. Even for winning races, we have to keep working harder because we will always have people trying to catch us; but that is just the way racing is.
“You never know [the performance of the car] until the first race. But we want to win, if we can’t win we will do whatever is possible. Obviously a win is first priority, and if that doesn’t happen then points are a second priority. We aim for what is best possible.”
With a new powertrain for the upcoming season and Jaguar appointing new team members such as Williams Formula 1 performance engineer Paul Davison, Piquet’s race engineer in his GP2 career in addition to Phil Charles, Piquet’s race engineer at Renault F1 team, who will know be Jaguar’s racing technical manager, the team looks to have a stronger second season.
“It is always great to work with a good manufacturer,” Piquet stated. “They have a lot of history in racing, it an amazing brand and lots of heritage in racing. It is not everyday you get to change to work with a big team like this.
“We race to win – so we will do whatever it takes to try to get there.”