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Oliver Turvey column: “We showed we had the pace”

Following a Mexico City ePrix that saw Oliver Turvey claim his maiden pole position in Formula E, the Englishman gave his thoughts on the circuit, the Mexican culture and his endeavours in the race.

The 30 year-old, who celebrated his birthday on race day, described the technical nature of the Mexican circuit and the unique Foro Sol baseball stadium section.

“The Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez where the Mexico ePrix is held is quite a unique venue. The track is a lot smoother, much less bumpy than some of the others we race at.

“The main pit straight is quite wide but on the Formula E track the place where we enter the stadium is quite narrow. The track is twisty with a lot of corners and chicanes so is one of the more technical tracks on the calendar.”

“The stadium section here in Mexico is a really unique feature. It’s absolutely phenomenal when you come through to that part during the race and can see the crowd. It creates a great atmosphere. That’s definitely a really enjoyable section of the track, especially as you can hear everyone cheering. It makes it very special.”

The magical atmosphere created inside the Foro Sol would be incomplete without the passionate Mexican fans, whom Turvey recognises as highly important to the appeal of the ePrix. He also spoke of when he and team-mate Nelson Piquet Jr tried their hand at Mexican wrestling.

“The Mexican fans are very passionate about motorsport; it always makes for a great event here with a fantastic atmosphere. The people are very knowledgeable about motorsport and are very happy and excited to see us. It’s a great place for us to race and a very enjoyable place for us to drive.”

“As well as the atmosphere trackside, we also got the opportunity to try out Lucha Libre this weekend, which is Mexican wrestling. It’s really popular in Mexico and some of the stunts that we saw were incredible. Nelson and I were taught a few, which was brilliant fun.

“It’s quite daunting seeing huge men in brightly coloured masks throwing each other around in a ring, but it was great to get the opportunity to do something like this that most people don’t have the chance to.”

Race day arrived and Turvey continued the strong qualifying form that he had already shown with multiple previous trips to Super Pole, with the Englishman taking second place on the grid.

Fast forward a couple of hours and Turvey was promoted to pole position following Daniel Abt’s exclusion for running illegal tyre pressures. It was the first chance for the NextEV NIO driver to control a race from the front.

“It was a great feeling to get pole position; we were quickest in the qualifying groups and then to get pole position after Super Pole was a fantastic feeling. We showed the pace of the car and I’m really pleased for the whole NextEV NIO team, particularly as we got some points on the board before the race even started. It was my first pole position in Formula E and hopefully the first of many.”

Turvey made the most of the situation and led the field away from pole position, pulling a gap to Jose Maria Lopez behind and settling into a comfortable rhythm that many predicted would give him his maiden Formula E victory and first in single seaters since 2009.

However, it wasn’t to be for the Englishman as a batter issue on lap 13 allowed Lopez to pass for the lead before ultimately retiring from the race as he came to a complete stop at turn one.

“The start of the race was going well. I made a good start and was leading for the first stages. I could see that Jose Mario Lopez and I were pulling a gap and then, on lap 13, when I was exiting the last chicane the car lost power; it cut out and went into neutral. I try to reset the car but it wouldn’t work so that was the end of the race.

“At this point we don’t know why as we haven’t had the car back yet [at time of interview] but we need to get to the bottom of that issue. It was really frustrating for this to happen when we were leading the race. But we’ve got to take the positives from the day: we scored points, we got pole position and we were leading the race. We’ve got to keep that in mind; we showed we had the pace today.”

With the returning Monaco ePrix next up on the season three calendar, Turvey beamed as he was reminded that he won the 2009 Formula Renault 3.5 race around the Principality and was full of optimism for a repeat result.

“I hope so! I love racing in Monaco. I won my first ever time racing there, like you say, in Formula Renault 3.5. I have very special memories of that race and of all the times I’ve raced in Monaco. This will be my first with Formula E as I didn’t compete there in season one so I’m really excited to go back and race on the streets of Monaco.”

It was a promising day in Mexico for Turvey, with the NextEV NIO car once again showing its front-running potential at the hands of a very capable driver. Could Monaco be the venue of Turvey’s first Formula E victory? If the Mexico City ePrix is anything to go by one would be foolish to bet against him.

Images courtesy of NIO Social

About Topher Smith
Topher is an experienced and passionate Motorsport journalist with Formula E, Formula 1, GP2/F2, GP3 and IndyCar all on his resume. When he isn't at the trackside you can find him furthering his own capabilities and knowledge through his endless search for original ideas and material. Also plays league pool.