Photo: NIO Formula E Team

Formula E: Filippi joins NIO; Andretti rebrands ahead of test

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The FIA Formula E Championship’s preseason testing takes place in Valencia, before season four launches later this winter in Hong Kong.

A few notes going into that are below.

FILIPPI IN FULL-TIME SEAT WITH NIO

Veteran open-wheel driver Luca Filippi, who raced in parts of four IndyCar seasons from 2013 to 2016 after also racing and winning regularly in GP2 prior to that, will enter a full-time seat with the NIO Formula E Team.

NIO Formula E Team Driver Portraits.

“Let me first thank everyone in NIO for the great opportunity given to me to race in the FIA Formula E Championship. It is a new electric world for me and a new racing system oriented to the future that is full of talent and clean technology, so I am extremely excited to become a part of it.

“During our first test run together in Spain I immediately had a great feeling with the car and all the people in the team. To join NIO for S4 is a dream come true and I am very much looking forward to working with Oliver and Gerry and starting this journey with everyone in the NIO Formula E team.”

The Italian replaces Nelson Piquet Jr. as Oliver Turvey’s teammate, Piquet going off to Panasonic Jaguar Racing for the new year. Turvey (No. 16) and Filippi (No. 68) also have new car numbers aboard the NextEV NIO 003 chassis. A slightly revised teal livery has some red on it as well and the social media hashtag, #BlueSkyComing, is the meaning of the company’s Chinese name, Weilai.

“Season 4 sees us welcome Luca Filippi on-board with the NIO Formula E Team and I firmly believe that these two drivers will form a formidable driver pairing for the coming season. Whilst Luca is new to the series he brings with him a wealth of motorsport experience which our young dynamic team will be looking to exploit,” said Gerry Hughes, NIO Formula E team principal.

ANDRETTI REBRANDS TO MS&AD ANDRETTI

Michael Andretti’s Formula E team has its fourth name in as many seasons. Just Andretti Formula E Team in season one, becoming Amlin Andretti Formula E in season two and then MS Amlin Andretti in season three, the team is now MS&AD Andretti in season four (Twitter handle is now @msadAndrettiFE as well). MS&AD, a Japanese insurance giant, is the parent company of Amlin.

“We hold the risks for people, businesses and communities around the world and mitigating the impact of extreme weather is very important to our clients and our business. Through Formula E we help present the world with a compelling case for switching to alternative fuel sources for our transport needs,” said Adrian Britten, MS Amlin’s Director of Brand.

Team owner Andretti added, “We are delighted that such an esteemed company as MS&AD is actively engaging in this exciting race series.  Our sponsors are a key partner in Andretti Autosport and we are look forward to bringing the exciting new race series to a wider audience, not least in Japan.”

On the driver front, the team has confirmed Antonio Felix da Costa back for a second full season while Tom Blomqvist and Alexander Sims, BMW works drivers, will test the team’s second car this week with view to a potential split race program between the two of them. This leaves Robin Frijns out of a seat despite two decent seasons.

“We are very fortunate to not only be testing two very capable drivers in Valencia but three top-level talents. Antonio has been in Formula E since the very start which makes him one of the most experienced drivers in the field and a huge asset to our team. Alexander had an important role as reserve and test driver in Season Three and is excited for a chance to show what he can do in Valencia. All three drivers are proven race winners in either Formula E or other race series and that is incredibly valuable. The whole team is looking forward to a productive week of testing for MS&AD Andretti,” said Roger Griffiths, co-team principal.

THIS WON’T BE CONFUSING AT ALL

A little over a month ago, we used snark to take on one of racing’s major problems in a tongue-in-cheek manner: IndyCar’s blue and white livery epidemic.

FIA Formula E may be on the cutting edge of battery technology, but it doesn’t appear to be on the cutting edge of different liveries… and it may also be going down a dangerous path of similar liveries.

Note the NIO and Andretti liveries above, with teal and/or blue appearing prominently, and now look below at the Renault e.dams and Panasonic Jaguar Racing liveries.

So we’ve got at least four teams on the grid of 10 – eight cars – that will look close or similar in nature going into the season. At least in Renault’s case, it’s a much lighter shade of blue compared to the NIO, Andretti and Jaguar liveries, which have similar designs and color palettes.

ANDRETTI, VENTURI LAST TO CONFIRM LINEUPS

With Andretti confirming the first of its two drivers and Venturi yet to confirm either of its two, these are the last two teams set to finalize their lineups ahead of season four. A few other confirmations – notably Mahindra’s re-upping of Felix Rosenqvist and Nick Heidfeld along with Audi confirming Daniel Abt as a new works driver – have come in in the last couple weeks.

Venturi tests Edoardo Mortara, Michael Benyahia, Maro Engel and James Rossiter this week. FIA Formula E’s full breakdown of the test lineup is linked here.

Here’s the grid so far:

  • Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler: 1-Lucas di Grassi, 66-Daniel Abt
  • DS Virgin Racing: 2-Sam Bird, 36-Alex Lynn
  • Panasonic Jaguar Racing: 3-Nelson Piquet Jr., 20-Mitch Evans
  • Dragon Racing: 6-Neel Jani, 7-Jerome d’Ambrosio
  • Renault e.dams: 8-Nico Prost, 9-Sebastien Buemi
  • NIO Formula E Team: 16-Oliver Turvey, 68-Luca Filippi
  • Techeetah: 18-Andre Lotterer, 25-Jean-Eric Vergne
  • Mahindra Racing: 19-Felix Rosenqvist, 23-Nick Heidfeld
  • MS&AD Andretti Formula E: 28-Antonio Felix da Costa, 27-TBA
  • Venturi Formula E Team: 4-TBA, 5-TBA

F1 2017 driver review: Kevin Magnussen

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Kevin Magnussen

Team: Haas
Car No.: 20
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P7 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 19
Championship Position: 14th

Kevin Magnussen’s move to Haas proved to be a win-win situation for both parties through 2017 as they banished the struggles of the previous Formula 1 season.

For Magnussen, the move came after a difficult one-season stint with Renault who despite offering him a way back into F1 after a year on the sidelines were unable to produce a car allowing the Dane to fight far up the order.

Haas had not expected to be able to be that much further ahead, but Magnussen nevertheless immediately offered an uplift in performance after replacing Esteban Gutierrez, who failed to score a single point through 2016.

Magnussen picked up Haas’ first points of the season with a solid drive in China, and was able to capitalize on the bonkers Baku race to take P7, which would ultimately be his best result of the season.

Consistency was a real issue for Haas throughout the year as it continued to have teething problems most new teams encounter, and while Magnussen was more able to drive around the problems than teammate Romain Grosjean, he lacked the ultimate pace of his teammate.

That said, Magnussen’s season highlight came in Mexico, a track Haas expected to be its worst of the season. The ex-McLaren driver qualified on the last row but produced a stunning display to finish eighth, soaking up pressure from Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton late on.

The signs are positive moving forward. Next year should be Haas’ best yet thanks to the stability in the regulations, presenting a good opportunity for Magnussen to prove his star quality.

Season High: Taking P8 in Mexico when Haas expected to be slowest.

Season Low: Lagging home P15 at Spa as Grosjean hit the points.