Hughes: “The landscape has certainly changed”
NextEV NIO Team Principal Gérry Hughes aims to help the team continue to grow and develop into a winning force in the wake of his recent appointment.
Hughes, who previously worked as Chief Race Engineer, recently took over at the helm of the Anglo-Chinese squad following the tragic passing of Dr Martin Leach and aims to honour his name by leading NextEV back to the front of the grid.
With his first race in charge fast approaching, Hughes spoke of how the car is being developed and his aims for the remainder of the season.
What has been the development focus for the team since the first two races?
“Formula E is a series of two-halves: you have qualifying where outright performance is the key to success and then racing, where energy and thermal management play a significant part in the final outcome. We are working hard to continue to develop in both of these areas.”
How has the team’s simulator programme been going this season?
“We have recently moved the Driver-in-the-Loop (DIL) simulator to the Team’s Technical Headquarters at Begbroke Science Park. Having the simulator on-site has required a change in our working practices, but has opened up a whole host of more simulator time, which in itself accelerates our learning with such a powerful software tool.”
What do you feel is the biggest challenge for the team to overcome this season?
“We should remember that as a team we are essentially an all-new entity and we must continue to build and develop the team and focus forwards. On the powertrain development side of things we are still behind our main rivals in some key areas, but we will continue to accelerate our powertrain knowledge in order to apply our ‘continual improvement’ philosophy.”
What is your personal aim for the season?
“I started this project with my colleague Paul Fickers on the 12th January 2016 designing, manufacturing and developing the season three chassis in a condensed time frame with the resources available to us, which ultimately saw us qualify first and second for our first race in Hong Kong in October.”
“A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since those early days, and the landscape has certainly changed with the loss of our leader Dr Martin Leach. My personal goal is to continue to grow and develop the team in a manner fitting of the core values of NextEV, and also in a way that honours what Martin started.”
Can you provide us with any useful insight into the race track at Buenos Aires?
“The circuit is a unique track in a park setting, which brings its own challenges. The circuit is fast, bumpy and extremely dirty and the ambient conditions at this time of year in the Argentine capital present the teams with specific challenges from a thermal management perspective. “
Image courtesy of NextEV NIO