Has Andretti snared Da Costa for season three? What do NEXTEV have up their sleeves for next year?
Andretti have struggled to get this year’s car to perform in qualifying, hampering the maximum results they can get in a race. However a recent test of next season’s challenger is said to have given the team an added boost and is set to be a major step forward.
The rumour mill is abuzz that the driver line up is set to change, with Team Aguri’s Antonio Felix Da Costa said to have a contract with the team for next season. The team confirmed Frijns will be staying on, leaving De Silvestro’s future in the series uncertain.
Frijns is capable of moving swiftly through the field and battling his way up the grid after a disappointing qualifying – including a spectacular sliding move on Loic Duval at the Berlin ePrix.
However the team’s lack of competitiveness in qualifying had visibly frustrated Frijns on more than one occasion. Can he put in a stellar performance in London to make an appearance on the podium?
Looking ahead, Da Costa and Frijns have a friendly competitive rivalry, which could prove an interesting challenge for the team should they both be racing for Andretti come Hong Kong.
Simona de Silvestro
De Silvestro out-qualified teammate Frijns last time out in Berlin, though far down the field. Pre-race penalties moved them up to 10th and 12th – de Silvestro’s best starting position – and she managed to score another 9th place finish though felt she should have been 7th.
However her performance relative to her teammate does not make her the favourite for the second seat at Andretti – she has 4 points to his 45. This makes her level with reigning Champion Nelson Piquet in the Drivers’ Championship.
The London ePrix mark the return to the circuit on which she made her debut, and the first track where she has prior knowledge. She’s aiming to finish strong and impress with no current plans in place for season three.
Team Aguri are set for a major transformation for season three, slowly building in the latter half of this season.
First was the ousting of Salvador Duran – himself a replacement for Nathanael Berthon – in favour of Chinese driver Ma Qing Hua.
The team announced this week that the London ePrix will be their last race having sold their racing licence for season three.
Da Costa returns after a DTM clash with Berlin, however Germany’s Rene Rast is waiting in the wings for season three after an impressive performance as understudy.
Antonio Felix da Costa
Da Costa has the honour of the team’s only win (season one) and gallantly put his car on pole in Long Beach before being disqualified for illegal tyre pressures. He’s outperformed all of his teammates this season, and is likely to do so once again at Battersea Park.
It doesn’t look like he will be sticking around next season, but will be aiming to put in another commanding performance to impress rumoured new bosses MS Amlin Andretti.
Qing Hua Ma
Ma has taken some time to find his feet, however it looks like his position in the team for next season is secure. While he has grown in confidence over the last few races, it’s difficult to imagine him pulling the rug from under our feet and stealing a surprising pole position á la Da Costa.
Ma is likely to stay with the team next year if the team are taken over.
NEXTEV have had a torrid time with a woefully uncompetitive car all season. It’s difficult to comprehend that this is the same team that took Nelson Piquet to victory this time last year, with lower points scoring positions gratefully received when they happen.
However things are looking up for the team – early tests of next year’s car have proved promising enough for Nelson Piquet to resign with them. Whether this will put them ahead of the field or if others will also have made gains remains to be seen.
Nelson Piquet Jr
Last year he topped the tables, now he languishes at the bottom. Of the current drivers, only Ma is behind on points in the table – and he has only competed in two ePrix. However the teams’ qualifying performance is improving race on race, even if their pace drops off during the ePrix.
Piquet will be hoping to add to his points tally to bring him out of a three-way tie with Simona de Silvestro and former Team Aguri driver Nathanael Berthon.
Turvey has more than double his teammate’s points haul (10) after some solid and consistent performances. Though their car is easily caught by others in the race, Turvey does well to stay out of trouble and keep them at bay to finish ahead. It would be surprising to see anyone else alongside Piquet next year.
The London ePrix take place on 2nd and 3rd July. More information can be found here.