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Nelson Piquet Jr. excited for first Formula E race in Mexico

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Defending FIA Formula E champion Nelson Piquet Jr. is relishing the series’ first visit to Mexico City on March 12, saying that it is right for there to be a race in a country with such steep racing heritage.

The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City held its first Formula 1 race in over 20 years last November, putting on what many deemed to be the best-hosted grand prix of the season.

Formula E will use part of the track for next weekend’s race, while the FIA World Endurance Championship is also poised to visit Mexico in the autumn.

“I think it’s going to be a fantastic race in Mexico City. The fans there are some of the most enthusiastic in the world,” Piquet said.

“They gave F1 an incredible reception earlier in the year and I hope they enjoy what we bring to the city with Formula E. It’s right that big races are going back to a city with such motorsport history.

“It’s a fantastic country with some of the most passionate fans in the world. There’s also so much history there that it seems right that they are attracting world class racing once again.”

Issues with the powertrain produced by NEXTEV TCR for the second Formula E season have left Piquet’s hopes of defending his title all but over even after just four races, but the Brazilian remains upbeat ahead of the rest of the year.

“This year has been difficult so far. Because the design of our car is now frozen due to Formula E rules and regulations, we’re going to have to optimize everything we can on the car to try to maximize our results,” Piquet said.

“We’re learning as much as we can about the car and working on all the different areas we can. But the worst thing we could do is say ‘we don’t have a good enough package, let’s sit still, cross our arms and do nothing’.

“This is a development battle and we have to keep optimizing every area we can. We were undoubtedly the best at saving energy in season one.

“It’s harder to do that this season because our car is much heavier, but we’re going to be running some truly aggressive strategies to get the best results we can.”

Fernando Alonso will decide this summer whether to pursue F1 again

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Fernando Alonso said he will determine by this summer if he would consider a return to Formula One next season.

After announcing Tuesday that he will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May with Arrow McLaren Racing SP, Alonso said “right now the Indy 500 will take all of my concentration” but left the door open for F1 in 2021.

“In my case, probably during the summer period, I’ll make a decision on 2021 if Formula One is still appealing to me,” Alonso told IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview (watch the video above). “The 2021 rules (in F1) are definitely a step forward, and hopefully things can be more mixed and not only three teams capable of winning races. So all this factors into play. I may consider that possibility.”

Alonso won consecutive Formula One championships in 2005-06 with Renault. He has 32 victories in an F1 career that started in 2001 and also includes stints at Ferrari and McLaren.

His last victory on the circuit was May 12, 2013 in Barcelona. He is winless in his most recent 110 starts, including the past 77 races with McLaren in 2015-18.

The Guardian recently reported that McLaren CEO Zak Brown said Alonso wouldn’t be returning to F1 with the team.

Alonso also told Diffey that returning to F1 from a two-season absence wouldn’t necessarily be linked to McLaren’s performance.

“I think they did well last year, and hopefully they make another step forward and close to the top three because they deserve it and are a fantastic team,” he said.

Though he is optimistic about more parity, Alonso said six-time champion Lewis Hamilton should be a favorite for the 2020 title based on preseason testing in which Mercedes turned heads with a new steering system.

“It seemed Mercedes is still quite competitive,” Alonso said. “They show enormous potential on the development side and on the progress from one year to next. Formula One is impossible to predict because many things happen in season.

“At the starting point, (Mercedes) are the favorites. When you have Lewis in the car and Mercedes with the potential they have, they have to be No. 1 probably.”