Season of a Rookie: New York City

Norman Nato reflects on his first visit to The Big Apple as Season 7 continues… 

Season 7 of the FIA Formula E World Championship has been one of firsts for Norman Nato, and every race weekend is one of learning for the promising French rookie.

His first visit to New York City was no exception, and once more this season, the 29-year-old had to get to grips with another new circuit on the current calendar.

After Puebla, a return to the city streets was in store and through every bump, jump, twist and turn, Norman was growing in confidence.

“New York was quite an interesting circuit and it was very different to the tracks we’ve raced on most recently,” said Norman, looking back to the Brooklyn Street Circuit.

“With all of the bumps and surface changes, it was a proper street circuit with all the challenges that this brings and I really enjoyed driving on it.

“As a rookie, missing out on some track time because FP1 was shortened put me at a slight disadvantage but, learning every circuit from scratch has been the case all season and it’s a challenge I’m used to and one I work hard to overcome.”

After showcasing promising pace on Saturday morning, a mistake in qualifying relegated Norman to a P19 start and as such, the Frenchman faced an uphill battle in Race 1.

“My mistake in qualifying cost me a lot of time and starting from the back meant that I was involved in a lot of fights on track during the first race,” he explained. 

“In that scenario, there are always opportunities and I was able to make up some ground in the first half of the race.

“I was making good progress but when I was running in P12, I was pushed offline in Turn 10 and that cost me a lot of positions.

“After that, there was very little I could do to be honest which is a shame because the car felt great and I think that points would have been possible.

“In total, I think I made around 10 overtakes in Race 1 alone and by coming away with the fastest lap, we showed that we had pace in long-distance running.”

After the disappointments of Saturday, Sunday was another day and after showing potential one day earlier, Norman carried forward his performance and showed more of his capabilities.

“From my perspective, I think Race 2 was a lot better and we showed just how fast the car can be,” continued Norman. 

“Qualifying was an improvement compared to Saturday, but because I started on the dirtier left-hand side of the grid in P10, I lost a lot of positions at the start because of the lack of grip.

“By the end of lap 1, I was in P13 but I was in a good position on energy and our strategy was solid so I was able to make up some positions.

“In the end, I was able to recover to P7 at the flag which I would call a good performance. Points are nice but we know that we’re capable of achieving more.”

Reflecting on the New York City E-Prix, Norman highlighted several positives to take from a challenging weekend overall, with plenty of performance still on the table.

“Looking back on the weekend, for sure it was tough but I think there are still a lot of positives we can take out of it. Qualifying was the biggest weakness and that was frustrating because we showed good pace in practice on Saturday and Sunday.

“In FP2 I was P5 and in FP3 I was P6 so it was promising, but in qualifying we just under-delivered and didn’t manage to do the same job. That’s something we need to understand and improve on.

“I think if we can improve in qualifying and start inside the top eight, we’ll be able to fight for big points and maybe even some podiums in the future, and after setting the fastest lap in Race 1, we know that our pace on long runs is also strong.

“Our goal for London is to improve on exactly that and I’m excited to race at the ExCeL for the first time which, as a new circuit for everyone, should level the playing field and be an advantage to me as a rookie.”