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

Mazda Road to Indy 2018 schedules are released

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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A handful of minor tweaks have been made to the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires schedules for the 2018 season, but they’re not too different than 2017 and largely mirror the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule that was put out last week.

The full details are below.

The Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires today unveiled its 2018 calendar of events. The most effective driver development program in the world with over $3.5M in scholarships and awards on offer will continue its momentum at premier road course, street circuit and oval venues in support of the Verizon IndyCar Series.

The highly acclaimed platform – comprised of Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda – will enter the new season with a trio of state-of-the-art chassis on display including the much anticipated debut of the new Pro Mazda PM-18 which completes the revitalization of the entire ladder system.

On deck for 2018 is a return to the Pacific Northwest and Portland International Raceway (PIR) in Portland, Ore. The 1.967-mile, 12-turn permanent road course will host the season finale for all three series. Indy Lights last raced at PIR in 2001, and Pro Mazda and USF2000 in 2006. The last IndyCar race took place in 2007.

The month of May will bring several new additions. Pro Mazda and USF2000 will return to Lucas Oil Raceway for the Carb Night Classic “The Race Before the 500” after a year’s hiatus. Mere hours after the conclusion of Carb Day activities at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 – including the Freedom 100, the crown jewel on the Indy Lights schedule – the two series will make their appearance on the .686-mile oval.

Additionally, the three Indianapolis oval races will see an increase in points for all series for the first time, and an increase in prize money.

In Pro Mazda, the National Class will be replaced by the Pro Mazda Classic (PMC) Series – a six-weekend, 12-race championship within the Pro Mazda Championship utilizing the older Pro Mazda rotary-powered cars from 2002 to 2017. The series will see a separate points chart, prize money and year-end awards.

While there is no limitation on PMC Series testing, Indy Lights, Pro Mazda and USF2000 will see amended testing rules. Indy Lights in-season testing is restricted to two days per team with two additional days available for use with current Pro Mazda and USF2000 drivers. Pro Mazda and USF2000 teams are permitted four days of in-season testing per driver but not at tracks yet to hold an event. Each series will continue with open tests at select venues.

The annual Mazda Road to Indy Spring Training will take place at Homestead-Miami Speedway on February 23- 26. Indy Lights will test on the 1.5-mile oval on February 23 and the 2.21-mile road course on February 26. Pro Mazda and USF2000 will run on the weekend – February 24 and 25 – to assist young drivers juggling their schedules alongside school commitments.

The Mazda Road to Indy Summit program – providing valuable education on a variety of topics including marketing/business, media training, career growth and development, fitness, social media and a comprehensive oval clinic – will continue to be in place next season.

“We’ve put a lot of thought into our schedule and I am pleased with the balance we have in place to properly train drivers to move up the ladder,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “We are excited to have Portland on the schedule, which will be a great circuit for our season finales in the three series, and to return to Lucas Oil Raceway on Carb Day for a great night of racing. The Freedom 100 is obviously the biggest race on our calendar and to be able to bring Pro Mazda and USF2000 back into the excitement surrounding the Indianapolis 500 was key. Increasing both the points awarded and the prize money gives these events the weight they deserve.

“The Mazda Road to Indy will take on new life next year with the competition debut of the PM-18. This completes the process we began several years ago to provide the best for our competitors with state-of-the-art race cars. We have a great program in place and it’s working. As always, I am looking forward to seeing many of our drivers take their next steps up the ladder including our recently crowned champions.”

Indy Lights will feature a 17-race schedule at 10 venues comprised of three oval, five road course and two street circuit events. In addition to hour-long race broadcasts on NBCSN, Indy Lights will also be featured on Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku and Xbox One as well as Road To Indy TV and on the Road To Indy TV App. Worldwide live streaming and live timing is also available on indylights.com and indycar.com.

Coverage of all Indy Lights sessions is available on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network with broadcasts on Sirius 214, XM 209, IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and on the INDYCAR Mobile app.

Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires 2018 Schedule

March 9-11 Streets of St. Petersburg, FL 1.8-mile street course*
April 20-22 Barber Motorsports Park 2.3-mile road course*
May 10-12 Indianapolis Motor Speedway 2.439-mile road course*
May 25 Indianapolis Motor Speedway 2.5-mile oval
June 22-24 Road America 4.014-mile road course*
July 7-8 Iowa Speedway .894-mile oval
July 13-15 Streets of Toronto, Ontario, Canada 1.786-mile street course*
July 27-29 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course 2.258-mile road course*
August 24-25 Gateway Motorsports Park 1.25-mile oval
August 31-Sept. 2 Portland International Raceway 1.967-mile road course*

*Doubleheader events

Open tests are scheduled at Homestead-Miami Speedway on February 23 (oval) and 26 (road course), Barber Motorsports Park on March 5, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 10 (road course) and 21 (oval), Road America on June 11/12 and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on July 17/18 for a total of nine test days.

Pro Mazda will expand to a nine-event, 16-race schedule which includes two ovals, five road course and two street course venues. Pro Mazda will be featured on Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku and Xbox One as well as Road To Indy TV and on the Road To Indy TV App. Worldwide live streaming and live timing is also available on promazda.com and indycar.com.

Pro Mazda Presented by Cooper Tires 2018 Schedule

March 9-11 Streets of St. Petersburg, FL 1.8-mile street course* + PMC
April 20-22 Barber Motorsports Park 2.3-mile road course* + PMC
May 10-12 Indianapolis Motor Speedway 2.439-mile road course* + PMC
May 25 Lucas Oil Raceway .686-mile oval
June 22-24 Road America 4.014-mile road course* + PMC
July 13-15 Streets of Toronto, Ontario, Canada 1.786-mile street course*
July 27-29 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course 2.258-mile road course* + PMC
August 24-25 Gateway Motorsports Park 1.25-mile oval
August 31-Sept. 2 Portland International Raceway 1.967-mile road course* + PMC

*Doubleheader events
+ Pro Mazda Classic Series

A total of 10 open test days are scheduled at Homestead-Miami Speedway on February 24/25, Barber Motorsports Park on March 3/4, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 10, Lucas Oil Raceway on May 24, Road America on June 11/12 and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on July 17/18.

The USF2000 series will continue with a 14-race format held at seven venues featuring one oval, four road course and two street circuit events. Coverage will be available on Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku and Xbox One as well as Road To Indy TV and on the Road To Indy TV App. Worldwide live streaming and live timing is also available on usf2000.com and indycar.com.

Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda 2018 Schedule

March 9-11 Streets of St. Petersburg, FL 1.8-mile street course*
May 10-12 Indianapolis Motor Speedway 2.439-mile road course*
May 25 Lucas Oil Raceway .686-mile oval
June 22-24 Road America 4.014-mile road course*
July 13-15 Streets of Toronto, Ontario, Canada 1.786-mile street course*
July 27-29 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course 2.258-mile road course**
August 31-Sept. 2 Portland International Raceway 1.967-mile road course*

*Doubleheader events
**Tripleheader event

Open tests are schedule at Homestead-Miami Speedway on February 24/25, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 10, Lucas Oil Raceway on May 24, Road America on June 11/12 and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on July 17/18 for a total of eight test days.

Two events still remain on the 2017 calendar – the seventh annual Chris Griffis Memorial Open Test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on October 21/22 and the Mazda Road to Indy $200K Scholarship Shootout on December 9/10 at the Bondurant Racing School near Phoenix, Ariz.