As the countdown begins for Formula E Season 8, Mahindra Racing’s Dilbagh Gill sheds light on the team’s new mantra for a more consistent performance this year.
It is one of the establishing teams on the Formula E grid and the big, electric red is hard to miss. Yes, the Mahindra Racing team has been associated with Formula E right from inception and the team has seen its share of success as well. However, while there have been spurts of excitement from time to time, the Indian team headquartered in the UK, has not been able to fully grasp its potential. Something, it plans to change in Season 8 that kicks off this weekend. The team has brought in Oliver Rowland for the upcoming season as its new driver, who joins Alexander Sims in the paddock. And now, Mahindra Racing is aiming towards a more consistent and persistent performance in the upcoming season.
With the Diriyah E-Prix scheduled for this weekend, Dilbagh Gill, Team Principal, and CEO spoke to carandbike about the team’s strategy for Season 8. The team has had a track record of being successful in the first half of the season and it aims to replicate the same more often across the 16-race calendar.
Gill says, “We’re the only team in the championship who’s got like four podiums in the first races of the season, so there has been a good start. We’re hoping to do that again here. Both the drivers like Riyadh. Sims got one here earlier at Rowland’s got two pole positions here. I think Rowland has got the third-highest points of all the drivers on this track so both of them are comfortable.”
While the pace hasn’t been much of an issue with Mahindra, multiple crashes did ruin the odds of the team securing crucial points throughout the previous season. The team though has been learning and evaluating, says Gill. Its goal is to be “consistent and persistent” in Season 8.
“We have to be consistent to keep delivering at a level that both cars are coming in with points. And then persistent to take it a level higher,” adds Gill. “That’s essentially the mantra within the team. OK, let’s be consistent and then persistent around it. So a lot of it’s like looking at procedures processes trying to understand why we’re like we couldn’t bring both the cars home. What are the reasons for our first lap incidents? I think were taken out five or six times in 15 races last year in the first lap itself.”
Apart from working with newer, albeit more experienced drivers, the team has also been working with limited personnel in the wake of the pandemic. With a smaller crew in the paddocks and a major chunk of the development part happening via work-from-home schedules, Gill says the team has been more adaptive than last year about identifying roles and responsibilities.
“We’re very conscious in terms of who needs to be at the office and who needs to be from home. And I think folks are very self-motivated, so you cannot keep them away from the office other than by giving them an instruction. Everyone needs to be healthy and safe to come to the races and perform but I think the distribution of work in terms of data analysis, data analytics, looking at reporting was done quite well away from the office. The main area which we have to focus was on simulation and simulator work in the factory, and that’s been going on quite smoothly. We now have two simulators we’ve been able to isolate.”
The team has also worked on improving its Season 8, which is an evolution of the Season 7 machine. “It’s the same allocated cars last year. But since the software is open, our main area has been around control systems. It’s basically being around the rear tyre control because last year too our rear tyres were overheating. So we’ve been just working a lot in terms of different philosophies in terms of both for longitudinal slip and for lateral slip-on tyres.”
The Season 8 car packs higher power at 220 kW (295 bhp), up from 200 kW (268 bhp), which increases up to 250 kW (335) in the attack mode. The pressure on the tyres then will be higher than ever. To counter the same, the team is working with a tyre specialist from the South of Italy, who has spent a lot of time around tyre modelling, which will help fine-tune the final setup on the race car.
Formula E Season 8 certainly looks exciting for Mahindra Racing with a stronger and more persistent team aiming to make a mark. The 16-race season will also see Nissan, Jaguar, Mercedes, Venturi, BMW, among other teams battle it out for the top spot. The season opener will see two back-to-back races in Saudi Arabia and will move to Mexico next month. The season will conclude with a double-header in Korea in August this year.