Formula E 2014/2015: Thirty-five years after his father, Nelson Piquet Jr electrifies Long Beach!

It was at Long Beach, California, USA, on March 30, 1980, that Brazil’s Nelson Piquet notched up his first world class victory driving a Brabham-Ford Cosworth.
Formula E Long Beach

Thirty-five years later, it was the turn of his son Nelson Piquet Jr (China Racing) to collect his first world class victory, again at Long Beach, in a Michelin-equipped Spark-Renault SRT_01E.

Over the past three-and-a-half decades, motor racing has evolved considerably and Nelsinho’s win came at the sixth round of the first ever FIA Formula E Championship which features electric single-seater cars equipped with patterned 18-inch MICHELIN Pilot Sport EV tires that are equally as at home in dry conditions as they are in wet weather.

The young Brazilian’s victory was the reward for an assertive performance since he took control thanks to perfect getaway which saw him catch out Daniel Abt (Audi Sport Abt) and Nicolas Prost (e.dams-Renault) who were ahead of him on the grid. Once in front, he consolidated his advantage and was never threatened all the way to the chequered flag.

Despite the China Racing driver’s domination, the Long Beach ePrix was rich in drama and a splendid show for the spectators who were treated to some exciting overtaking.

The race was marked by two interruptions. The first was when Andretti’s Scott Speed took off over a kerb and smacked the opposite wall. The second safety car period came when Charles Pic (China Racing) tee-boned Jarno Trulli (Trulli) at the apex of the hairpin that feeds into the start/finish straight.

Meanwhile, as Nelson Piquet Jr controlled from in front, Daniel Abt, Jean-Eric Vergne (Andretti), Lucas Di Grassi (Audi Sport Abt) and Sébastien Buemi (e.dams-Renault) provided an entertaining battle for the other two podium steps.

On Lap 21, Abt was the first driver to head for the pits for his mandatory car swap. Unlike previous rounds, this phase of the race did not have a big effect on the leaderboard, although Vergne’s slick stop allowed him to emerge in second spot behind Piquet, and this is the position he held when he crossed the finish line.

Third place ended up in the hands of Di Grassi who came out on top of his scrap with team-mate Daniel Abt (who took a late drive-through penalty for excessive energy usage) and Sébastien Buemi.

“Today’s race in Long Beach was another illustration that Formula E can combine spectacular competition with clean technology,” underlined Serge Grisin, manager of Michelin’s Formula E programme. “This is a symbolic victory for Michelin here at Long Beach where it has been so successful in the past in association with different partners.”

Porsche-Penske, Audi Sport, Acura-de Ferran, Acura-Highcroft, Aston Martin Muscle Milk and Honda Muscle Milk have all won at Long Beach on Michelin rubber, and the French tire firm has also taken GT spoils at the Californian venue with the likes of Ferrari-Risi, Ferrari-Tafel, Porsche-Flying Lizard, BMW Team RLL and Corvette Racing.

It is important to remember that one of Formula E’s major objectives is to leave a lasting mark in each of the locations it visits. As part of the global FIA Action for Road Safety campaign, Michelin and the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) presented a donation of USD 100,000 as part of their joint bid to improve road safety awareness amongst young drivers. This sum will be used to finance driving lessons for youngsters in Long Beach and Miami.

The next round of the 2014/2015 FIA Formula E Championship will take teams to Monaco for the first European ePrix of the series in the Principality on May 9.