Mahindra Racing’s 100th Formula E Race - The Journey So Far
Written by Vyas Ponnuri, Edited by Olivia Hartley
Mahindra & Mahindra is an Indian automotive brand, currently engaged in selling mid-size SUVs (Sports Utility Vehicles) and Commercial Vehicles in the Indian automotive market. The company began to sell Jeeps and other Multi Utility Vehicles (MUVs) from 1948. It was only in 1997, when Anand Mahindra was appointed as Managing Director of the company, that the company really took off. Since then, the company has gone from strength to strength in the Indian automotive market.
Mahindra also has a racing division, Mahindra Racing, which has been competing in the Formula E World Championship since its inception in 2014. They have also participated in the 125cc class of the MotoGP championship, as well as the succeeding Moto3 championship. In 2013, the team also entered the Italian National Motorcycle Racing Championship, taking part in the 250cc 4-stroke Moto3 class. They competed as a constructor until the 2017 season of Moto3 but continued to supply official Peugeot Motocycles, derivative of the MGP3O, to the factory Peugeot MC Saxoprint Team.
The final race of the 2022 Formula E season at Seoul was an important moment for the sport, being Formula E’s 100th race. As Mahindra Racing has participated in every race of the sport, this was also the 100th Formula E race for the Indian team. How has this journey to triple figures been for Mahindra Racing? Read on to find out.
Dilbagh Gill is the team principal of Mahindra Racing, and has held this position since the team’s first season in 2014.
Initial Seasons - Settling into the sport and building a reputation
Ten constructors, including Mahindra Racing, agreed to take part in the inaugural season of Formula E. This was set to commence in Beijing on 13th September 2014, and conclude in London on 28th June 2015. The Indian team fielded former F1 drivers Bruno Senna and Karun Chandok for the season. They began the season on a strong note, with Chandok taking fifth place at the first-ever Formula E race in Beijing. He would go on to take a sixth place finish at the next race in Putrajaya. Unfortunately, those would be his only points for the entire season. Bruno Senna achieved the team’s best finish at the season finale in London. Together, they scored a combined 58 points, putting the team eighth in the standings, five points ahead of Venturi.
In preparation for the 2015-16 season, Mahindra developed their own electric powertrain, the Electro M2, to power their cars. The team signed Nick Heidfeld, who had previously driven for Venturi, in place of Karun Chandok. The Indian team once again started the season strong, with Heidfeld taking the team’s first podium finish at the first race of the season in Beijing. Oliver Rowland competed for the team in the third race of the season in Punta Del Este, Uruguay, when Heidfeld suffered a hand injury at the previous round in Putrajaya. Heidfeld then returned for the next race in Argentina. Heidfeld and Bruno Senna scored points regularly throughout the season, finishing with only two non-point races each. The Brazilian achieved the team’s best result in the penultimate round in London, with a second place finish. The team accumulated a total of 105 points for the season, thus finishing fifth in the standings. Mahindra Racing’s new powertrain proved to be very efficient and reliable right from the off.
For the 2016-17 season, Mahindra signed rookie Felix Rosenqvist in place of Bruno Senna, and retained Nick Heidfeld. Their car for the season would be the M3Electro. This package proved to be very competitive during the season, with both drivers scoring five podium finishes each, and Rosenqvist even taking the team’s maiden Formula E victory in Berlin. He was unlucky to miss out on another in the very next race, but would go on to achieve three second places and one third place finish in the remaining races of season, while Heidfeld achieved five third places. Together, they contributed to the team’s lofty third place finish in the Constructors Championship, with Rosenqvist also finishing third in the Drivers Standings.
Next Three Seasons - More success follows
For the 2017-18 season, Mahindra retained the same driver line-up of Rosenqvist and Heidfeld, and the team’s car for the season would be the M4Electro. After a non-score at the first race in Hong Kong, Rosenqvist went on to have a flying start to the season, achieving two consecutive victories, first at the second race once again in Hong Kong, and again at the next round in Marrakesh. At this point, Rosenqvist and Mahindra led the standings for the first time in the sport, with Heidfeld’s third place finish at the first race in Hong Kong also contributing to their points tally. However, that was as significant as their lead would get, with both drivers failing to make the podium for the rest of the season, and scoring a combined 63 points from then on. This was partly due to Heidfeld’s three consecutive DNFs from Santiago to Punta Del Este. Mahindra still managed to finish at an encouraging fourth in the teams’ standings, with 138 points to their name, losing out on third to DS Virgin Racing by 22 points.
The new era of Formula E saw changes to the Indian team’s line-up. Rosenqvist left the team to join Indycar, and Heidfeld stepped down from his seat to become special advisor for the team. They were replaced by former Sauber driver Pascal Wehrlein, and Jerome D’Ambrosio, who left Dragon Racing to join the team. Rosenqvist drove for the team in the opening race of the season however, in place of Wehrlein. Jerome D’Ambrosio’s stint at Mahindra got off to an impressive start, with a third place finish at the first race of the season in Diriyah. He would then go on to take a thrilling win in Marrakesh by only 0.143 seconds, after having started from 10th on the grid. He took the lead in the drivers’ standings with 40 points to his name. Wehrlein achieved a second place finish in the next round at Santiago. However, once again, these would be their highest results of the season, as both drivers failed to score any additional podiums, with Wehrlein achieving a best finish of fourth in Monaco. D’Ambrosio scored only a further 27 points after his win in Marrakesh, and the team finished sixth in the standings, scoring a total of 125 points.
For season six, Wehrlein and D’Ambrosio continued on as drivers, although Wehrlein opted to leave the team in June 2020, and Alex Lynn was drafted in for the final six races of the season, all held in Berlin. Mahindra experienced a huge dip in success compared to previous seasons. The Indian team finished ninth in the standings, scoring all of 49 points, their lowest return for any of the six seasons they had competed in. Wehrlein achieved a best result of fourth for the team at the season’s second race weekend in Santiago.
Latest Seasons - The occasional great result, and an eye on the future
For season seven, Mahindra retained Alex Lynn, and signed Alexander Sims from BMW i-Andretti in place of Jerome D’Ambrosio. The team’s car for the season was the M7Electro. Sims began his season on a good note, finishing seventh at the opening race of the season in Diriyah. He would go on to take a second place finish at race four, in Rome. In contrast, Alex Lynn’s season got off to a terrible start, with two DNFs in Diriyah, but he scored points consistently from then on, and took a podium in Valencia. The weekend in London was a huge one for Lynn, with the Brit starting on pole position for race one. However, he lost out on the win to Jake Dennis, and second to Nyck De Vries. The second race, on the other hand, saw him take a win after Lucas Di Grassi was disqualified for not serving a penalty. The team finished eighth in a closely contested season, scoring 132 points, 49 points behind eventual champions Mercedes EQ. Lynn finished 21 points behind champion Nyck De Vries in the Drivers’ Standings.
Season eight would prove to be a tough one for Mahindra. The team unveiled their challenger for the season, the M8Electro, in November 2021. Alex Lynn left the team prior to the start of this season, and was replaced by Oliver Rowland, who left Nissan E-Dams to take the seat. Alex Sims stayed on at the team. Rowland started the season with a DNF at the first race in Diriyah, following a collision. He finished eighth in race two, scoring the team’s first points of the season. Rowland would then go on to have a further seven DNFs during the season, mostly due to lap one incidents. He did however have a high point scoring race at the season finale in Seoul, taking pole position for race one, and eventually finishing second, making this the team’s best result of the season. Sims had a much more difficult season, with only two points finishes, earning ninth place in Berlin and fourth in New York. The team scored 46 points throughout the season, their lowest in any season so far, and finished eighth in the Constructors Standings.
For the Gen3 era, following news of Alex Sims’ departure from the team, Mahindra have managed to sign the most successful driver in the sport from Rokit Venturi, Lucas Di Grassi. He will partner Oliver Rowland for season nine. This signals the team’s intent and aspirations for the new era, as the team hopes to make progress further up the standings, and win championships in the future.