In a continuation of the column titled “Locked-Down”, Speedway Media caught up with FIA ABB Formula E and NIO 333 Team driver, Ma Qinghua.
During the interview, Qinghua talks about what he has been doing during the down period of no racing, how sim racing has treated him and if he has been able to discover any new hobbies.
SM: There has been a long break during this down period of racing. What have you been doing during this off period and how have you kept busy?
MQH: “I’m doing some practice to maintain my status and also I’m running my own Go-Kart track business.”
SM: Sim racing has pretty much taken off ever since the pandemic started. You, yourself, have been participating in the Race At Home Challenge hosted by Formula E. How has that been going for you? Were there any expectations for you going into the challenge?
MQH: “The sim racing is pretty fun for me,” Qinghua said. “Our team in Shanghai has been holding live shows during each race in a Go-kart playground with many fans watching the race with us on-site. For my performance in the race, I’ve done not bad and I’m adapting to the driving way of the simulator, but there are still more to be adjusted for sure.”
SM: On a scale of 1-10, how good of a sim racer do you think you are compared to the rest of the field? Do you feel as though sim racing has helped keep you prepared for when the season returns?
MQH: “It’s hard to make a comparison,” he said. “Because it’s much difference between the simulation and the reality. Through the sim racing, the biggest help for me is that, I can keep the familiarity of the tracks so that I will be still ready when the season restarts.”
SM: You have competed off and on in Formula E since 2015, before getting connected with NIO Racing. What is it about Formula E that you’ve enjoyed so much compared to the other series that you’ve been involved in?
MQH: “I was always being interested in Formula E before I was involved in,” Qinghua said. “Because the driving and controlling method of the car and the track location are all very challenging. It’s an awesome feeling that speeding along the street track in the city center.”
SM: As mentioned, you were a part-time driver before season six. This season, you got connected with the NIO 333 FE Team. Can you talk about how great it has been driving for the team and how you got connected with them?
MQH: “NIO 333 was restructured and now is operated by a new team,” he said. “Now the team is in an initial stage, I’m happy to work with a Chinese team as a Chinese driver and we can put efforts into improving gradually together.”
SM: In the present season, you have had some respectable finishes, including your best finish at Santiago by finishing 16th. You’ve yet to crack the top-10 finishing order and to get on the podium. What do you think needs to be done in order to finally get on the podium?
MQH: “Actually our whole team including the software were all developed just before this season, as a result that our system is still in an initial stage,”Qinghua said. “The most important for us is to accumulate track miles. But during the Formula E season, it’s not allowed to do testing with the race car, so there is still a lot of time needed for us.”
SM: The season has been on hiatus since the pandemic started a few months ago. Has this downtime altered your expectations at all? Would it be disappointing for you, should this season never be restarted? How positive are you that the season will be restarted?
MQH: “I think it’s not a situation that we are able to solve for now,” he said. “It’s a natural problem that not depending on any individual willingness. Of course, I hope the season could restart, and I will do as best as I can by then.”
SM: When the racing season is in full action with no breaks, it appears you are always on the go. Was it difficult for you knowing that you would not be racing for a while, despite always being on the go as a driver?
MQH: “As a driver, I will never want to see a season suspended, Qinghua said. “But it just happened, so I have to face it.”
SM: If the season should possibly get restarted in the next couple of weeks, what do you hope to work on as a driver and what tracks do you have your eye on?
MQH: “I will be looking forward to racing on any of the street tracks if the season got restarted.”
SM: Are you a driver that goes back and watches old races? If so, have you watched any during the break?
MQH: “Yes, I’m used to watching my previous races to reanalyze the problems I got during the races to avoid for the future.”
SM: Have you been able to discover any new hobbies that you otherwise might not have been during racing?
MQH: “Play Mahjong, play eSport games.”
SM: When you are done quarantining, what is the first thing you’re going to do and what do you hope to accomplish when the current season ends?
MQH: “In China, we are currently not in quarantine anymore, so I’m doing everything as normal.”
Special thanks to Hayley Wang for making the interview happen and special thanks to Ma Qinghua for taking time out of his busy schedule to participate in this interview.