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Pandemic Prevents NIO 333 FE Ma Qinghua to Race in Berlin

Chinese racing driver Ma Qinghua to miss the six-race Berlin showdown next August.

The announcement was made today by the NIO 333 Formula E Team, addressing “various reasons” to make the decision that will prevent the 32-year-old to complete a full season as an official driver with the all-electric series.

“Unfortunately, I am not going to Berlin this year, having raced there during the 2015-2016 season. It is quite difficult to travel and race abroad at present, as this would expose us to more Covid-19 risks. The team and I had in-depth discussions about this, and considering the current situation of the pandemic, this decision was made to ensure the best possible preparation for the team,” said Ma

Due to the coronavirus outbreak which spread over 180 countries, the competition was suspended after the Marrakesh E-Prix, on February 29, with a total of five races completed.

According to the regulations in effect, six races are the minimum required to qualify as a championship. 

Over 100 days later, the series was able to announce a new calendar, allowing season 6 to resume with an intense and innovative format, set to take place in August at the Tempelhof Airport in Berlin, Germany.

“When the plan to resume the championship was announced, we were all very excited to return, the long pause of the season made us miss the battles on the track, especially with the team making significant progress since Marrakech. However, due to the number of restrictions, Ma and the Shanghai team members, will be unable to attend the race,” explained Vincent Wang, NIO 333 FE Team CEO.

The contenders will battle for the win for nine days, as season 6 champion will be known after three doubleheaders (5/6, 8/9, and 12/13) – each using a different track configuration.

“Ma will also be present during the live event with our fans as well as providing support to the team on-site. The management team is currently selecting the replacement for Ma, and an announcement will be made imminently,” added Wang.

The 2019/2020 overall standings show DS Techeetah and Antonio Felix da Costa as leaders the constructors and drivers championship, respectively.

“I look forward to coming back and racing in the Season 7 World Championship,” said Ma Qinghua.

Ma Qinghua in Formula E

During the 2015-2016 season, Ma joined Team Aguri at the seventh round of the competition, the Paris E-Prix, replacing Mexican driver, Salvador Duran. 

He continued as a works driver with the team, also contesting the Berlin E-Prix – held at the Berlin Street Circuit, and season two gran finale, the doubleheader event, the London E-Prix. 

The next season Ma returned to the team, renamed Techeetah, but after the first three races, he was replaced with former Haas F1 driver Esteban Gutiérrez.

The Chinese team went through a transition in 2019, which included a new driver line-up with Ma signing as an official driver with the renamed NIO 333 Formula E Team, joining Oliver Turvey behind the wheel of the Gen 2 NIO FE-005.

Who will replace Ma Qinghua in the following races is yet to be known, place your bets!

Pictures courtesy of Phaceless Photographer and NIO 333 Formula E Team.

About Cecilia Demartini
Cecilia is a freelance Journalist passionate about motorsport and writing.
Her articles are published in newspapers and online international media as well.
Her knowledge goes from F1, F2, and GP3 to other series such as MotoGP, IndyCar, Rally, WEC and particularly Formula E.