I am more than certain about one thing as far as NIO’s driver line up is concerned: Oliver Turvey will be staying with the Chinese squad.
The Englishman’s stock is on the rise in Formula E as multiple strong races in the series culminated in him finally taking his maiden podium finish in Mexico City last season.
With his upward trajectory, I see no reason to believe why Turvey should move on and may well end up challenging for his first series victory.
As for his team-mate, it could be a different story. Luca Filippi endured a torrid first season in the series with only a single point to his name. Faith from the team and a second season would do no harm to his confidence behind the wheel, but one wonders if he has done enough to convince NIO to keep him on.
Should he not be retained, there are five potential replacements lining up to take his place in the form of Ma Qing Hua, Harry Tincknell, Tom Dillmann, Loic Duval and Oliver Rowland.
Ma is already on NIO’s books at the reserve driver and raced for the team in Paris in place of Filippi, and looks likely to continue in his current role.
Tincknell is a highly rated sportscar ace who already has experience in the all-electric series having tested for the team in season two and could couple a Formula E programme with his endeavours with Ford in the World Endurance Championship.
Dillmann is considered to be the super-sub of Formula E who deserves a chance at a full-time seat. Every time he has got behind the wheel he has impressed and drove a magnificent race in New York last season to finish fourth while deputising for Venturi’s Edoardo Mortara.
I consider Dillmann to have a strong chance of finding a race seat for season five and having completed a test for NIO recently it would be a good move for the Chinese team to place him alongside Turvey, but there is one more name who could yet return to the series.
Duval is a veteran of Formula E having taken two podiums with Dragon Racing, but was ousted from the series after season three in favour of Neel Jani. He endured a highly disappointing final season before losing his seat, but his earlier results prove that Duval can fight at the front in the all-electric series.
According to e-racing365, the Frenchman joined Dillmann at the private test but is understood to be up for a re-test having not spent as much time in the cockpit as he should have.
Another report from e-racing365 stated that NIO is handing a test to Rowland, who competed in one Formula E race for Mahindra Racing in 2015. Despite pursuing a seat in Formula 1, it is known that the Englishman is looking at alternatives and could find refuge in Formula E.
Although there is very strong competition for the second seat, it is understood that NIO will at least start the season with an unchanged line up and then have a strong pool of drivers to choose from should they require a new driver.
Candidates: Oliver Turvey, Luca Filippi, Ma Qing Hua, Harry Tincknell, Tom Dillmann, Loic Duval, Oliver Rowland
I predict: Oliver Turvey / Luca Filippi