Oliver Turvey: Formula E “suits my analytical style”


Oliver Turvey has long been associated with the McLaren Formula 1 team, but is currently plying his trade in the FIA Formula E championship, making his debut in the finale of season one at Battersea Park, but his full-time ride in season two has been far from easy.

Despite twice receiving the bonus of the Fanboost from public votes so far during season two, Turvey has described the start to his campaign as ‘tough’, with his NEXTEV TCR struggling with performance with it’s new powertrain.

“It’s been a tough start to the season,” revealed Turvey to The Checkered Flag at the Autosport International Show. “I think with the new powertrains we’ve seen some differences with the cars and certainly with ours, they went for a more radical design, and it’s been a tough start to the year certainly pace wise.

“We’re struggling a little bit in qualifying but the races have been always interesting and always a lot of strategy and it gives us opportunities to try and move forward. 

“It’s not easy because the pace in the race can be quite tough but Beijing went well, I had a very strong race there and moved from fifteenth on the grid to finish sixth, a good start to the season.

“Since then Malaysia was tough, qualifying again was tough, but we then a problem during the race with the throttle sticking, which caused the crash I had, and then the last race in Uruguay I had the best qualifying of the season in tenth, but unfortunately in the race we were running inside the top ten but in the pit stop we were aggressive and unfortunately just went underneath the minimum pit stop time so we got a drive-through for that.

“That was a shame because maybe otherwise we could have finished inside the top ten, but we also had an issue on the second car which caused some problems, so I think in the end it was a difficult race for us, but I think we made some progress and certainly the test day went well and the pace of the car seems to be improving.”

Despite the troubled start to the season, Turvey is hopeful his NEXTEV TCR team can find something to improve the performance of the car, even if some of the car is homologated, meaning they will have some disadvantages when it comes to their power unit.

“Some of its difficult because of the homologation of the cars and the regulations; you have to homologate the car before the start of the season,” said Turvey.  “The hardware is quite heavy; we have some areas that will be difficult to improve but some areas we can definitely still make some improvements.

“The team are working hard trying to make as many improvements as they can within the regulations, so we will pushing hard to improve and see what we can achieve for the rest of the year.”

Turvey has an experienced hand alongside him within the team in the form of reigning Formula E champion Nelson Piquet Jr, and the Briton believes he has showed well against the Brazilian so far, including out-qualifying him in two of the three rounds so far in season two.

“He is obviously a very experienced driver, and as the reigning Formula E champion it’s great to have him in the team and for me as a reference it’s always good to have a strong team-mate,” said Turvey.

“I’ve out-qualified him in Beijing and also in Punta del Este, and I beat him in the first race. We’ve been very close in a lot of the races; we’re both pushing each other and trying to push the team forward. I think we’re working well together, and it’s a good reference for me.”

The Briton believes the experience of energy conservation in other series he has competed in has enabled him to pick up what needs to be done in Formula E, and believes it suits his ‘analytical’ style of racing.

“It’s not so easy [to conserve energy],” insisted Turvey. “It’s a different kind of driving style, I think I picked it up quite quickly so I’ve been able to do quite well with that and certainly Nelson was pretty strong on it last year, which helped him in the races.

“I’ve been able to match him in the races so I think it’s not easy but it’s something I’ve had some experience of in other formulas.  I think it suits my analytical style and I think I’m quite efficient in my driving style.  It’s not easy, but it’s an exciting part of the race, and the race is quite strategic.”

Turvey has revealed that the new qualifying set-up for season two has brought a new mindset, with the driver being forced to calculate how much risk they are willing to take during their one and only quick lap, but he believes he has performed strongly so far.

“The new qualifying is tough; last year you had two laps basically in qualifying where you could risk a lot on your second lap, where as now it’s about how much risk you want to put into the qualifying lap,” revealed Turvey.

“On street circuits it’s always hard because if you make a mistake you’re going to hit the wall, but so fair I think my single lap qualifying has been good and strong, and I’ve out-qualified Nelson in two of the three rounds now. 

“It’s not easy but it’s a challenge that’s the same for all the drivers and really shows if you can nail a lap and I think that’s a skill to have.”

Turvey’s focus at present is on his Formula E commitments, but the Brit is still looking to return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans for a fourth season, somewhere he has finished on the podium in two of his three previous outings, including a class win back in 2014 with JOTA Sport.

“I’m looking forward to racing single-seaters in Formula E, and I’m just trying to race in anything I can,” said Turvey.  “I’m trying to move up to race at the highest level and to try and be a world champion. 

“I’ve raced at Le Mans for the last three years, I’d like to continue racing there, I’ve been on the podium in two of three years and won LMP2 in my second year.  I love that race and one that everyone wants to win.  I hopefully I can be racing back at Le Mans but at the minute I’m not sure, but hopefully I’ll be there.

“Last year I was [also] racing Super GT for Honda in Japan, which is a fantastic series at a great level, the cars are phenomenally quick with a really high level of drivers and competition, so hope to be racing there again but at the moment I’m not completely sure about my programme.”