With Mahindra Racing having been a part of the original line-up right from Season 1, Formula E has shared a connect with the Indian audience. And while Mahindra’s successes over the years have helped spread the word, the championship still hasn’t quite struck a chord with the masses in our country. The one thing that could help change that is a race in India, and that could happen in the next couple of years.
Speaking exclusively to Autocar India, Dilbagh Gill, Team Principal at Mahindra Racing, confirmed that the championship promoter, as well as the teams, are now gearing up to push for an Indian round on the Formula E calendar in Season 7 (2020-21), in order to tap into what could be a potentially massive fan base.
“We haven't really made any tangible progress (on an India round) from two years ago, but I think the time is coming – it’s not just Mahindra Racing, but the championship promoter as well as the teams that are really keen to race in India. That push is going to happen in 2019 for a potential race in Season 7.”
While there have been no concrete movements yet, Gill outlined a few cities he sees as potential candidates to host a Formula E race, and also confirmed the Telangana government had previously expressed interest in having a Formula E race in the state.
“Personally, I think Delhi would be nice. It’s a city with iconic landmarks and could be a lovely city to have a Formula E race. Mumbai would also be good – the BKC area could make for an interesting Formula E racetrack. Someone had drawn up a track in Navi Mumbai, so that could be another option.
“There was interest from the Telangana government to race around the Tank Bund road with the Buddha statue making for a nice backdrop. There's even been an idea to go and race in Goa – lots of teams say we need to go mid-winter to Goa and have a race there.”
Gill also explained how the Indian weather conditions will influence this new round’s location and position on the Formula E calendar.
“If (the Asia rounds) will be November to February, we can't do it in Delhi because the weather won't be right. If they will be in June-July, we can't do it in Mumbai because of the monsoons. But overall, the intent and motivation are clear that we want to have a race in India pretty soon".
While the intent to race in India is clear, Gill maintains that the series – being a city-based event – would need local support to make it happen. He also mentioned how cities that host marathons would be better prepared to host a Formula E race: “If it has to happen, we will need support from the local government because it will be a disruption in the city, and the city needs to be ready for it. A city which has conducted a marathon could potentially host a Formula E race since roads are closed for marathons. Marathon tracks are longer, we need a smaller space. Mumbai could be a good place because people know that for the marathon, roads will be closed and there will be some amount of disruption.”
Season 5 of Formula E will kick off this weekend in Ad Diriyah, Saudi Arabia. The new season will feature a number of big changes – the most significant being the new Gen2 car that is now capable of storing double the amount of energy – making mid-race car swaps a thing of the past.