“I definitely see my future in Formula E,” says Jehan Daruvala, after getting signed on by Maserati MSG Racing
Jehan Daruvala, after four seasons in F2 and one season as a reserve driver for Mahindra Racing in Formula E, has finally bagged a seat for himself with the Maserati MSG Racing Formula E team. This is significant – Jehan is only the third Indian to race a single-seater FIA World Championship after Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok. We spoke to Jehan earlier this year and his goal for the next season was to be in a full time seat as a professional racing driver, and with this move, that goal seems to have been achieved. Jehan was a part of the Red Bull Junior team until the end of the 2022 season, and over his four years in F2, he has racked up four wins and an additional 12 podiums which is no mean feat. As Maserati MSG Racing’s Season 9 driver Edoardo Mortara moves to Mahindra Racing, Jehan found an opportunity to join the team and compete for the whole season.
In this interview, we catch up with Jehan who gets candid about how he feels about this shift from F2 to Formula E, how he is going to have to adapt his style, his goals for the season, his strengths and challenges, and coming to grips with the Gen 3 Formula E car. He also tells us what made him pick Maserati despite his Indian nationality and links to Indian team Mahindra Racing, and also what it feels like to be an Indian competing at the top level of single-seater motorsport and the pressure that it brings on. Lastly, he shares his thoughts on the Formula 1 dream is over and his future in this electric racing series. Read on for excerpts from the full conversation
On racing in Formula E
“I'm super, super excited for my first season in Formula E and I'm really proud and excited to be part of the Maserati MSG Racing family. It's a luxury brand and a brand that I'm very excited to start my professional journey in motorsports with. It's going to be my first year as a professional driver and I could not think of a better team to start my career with. It's going to be a lot of learning for me but you know I hope to deliver good results and make the team proud of me.”
On his experience as a reserve driver
“On the first part of the question, yeah I've been around as a reserve driver for most rounds around this year. Honestly I was always itching to get on track as a racing driver. You don't want to be on the sidelines, you want to be in the car and actually drive it. But yeah, I learned quite a lot. Formula E is very different from what I've been doing in the past in all my other junior formulas so there was a lot for me to learn. Being on the sidelines for one season was quite good. I learned quite a lot behind the scenes and I'm looking forward to being a race driver and an official driver for the next season.”
On parting ways with Mahindra Racing
“I guess everyone thought naturally because I was the Mahindra reserve I would go there, but I have always been a driver that has wanted the best for me, my managers want the best for me and we got this opportunity from Maserati and MSG. It was huge for me. They're a huge brand, you know it's a lot of heritage and I can't wait to represent the Trident and put my best efforts on the track.”
On adapting to Formula E from F2
“There's going to be a lot of preparation for me before the season starts. A lot more than I'm actually used to in Formula 2. There's a lot of top teams, a lot of top brands competing. The margins here are super small. I'm actually currently out here in Monaco for the entire month, being at the office almost every day of the week and being on the simulator as much as I can and not only that, learning about the software, learning about the car because everything is new to me. I have a bit of insight from last year being behind the scenes but again, joining another team, everything is different here as well. So it's going to be a huge learning curve but a curve that I'm excited for and I can't wait to get started in Valencia and learn as much as I can.
“I think the racing itself is going to be the part I think I will have to adjust to the most. I've always been fast in everything I've driven. I was also fast at the rookie test. I mean, it doesn't mean I am automatically fast when I drive, but I think doing a qualifying lap is something that I can do, but there's a lot of learning to do behind the scenes in terms of racing itself in Formula E. It's a lot to manage. The energy, it is mentally very difficult. So it definitely will be a learning process for me, but something that I feel like I can cope with quite well with my experience so far in juniors.”
On goals for the season
“I think it's a very good question. I would say my goals are not really result oriented, but more behind the scenes to prepare myself. And I think the results also speak for themselves. So to give my maximum effort while I'm here in the factory, in the simulator, and just get as prepared as I can, I back myself as a racing driver. And I do believe that I can score good results. It's going to be hard to put a name or a number, but consistently to fight for points and to be at the sharp end of the grid is something that I will be targetting through the season.”
On being representing the country in a world championship
“It feels amazing to be the third Indian to drive an official FIA World Championship. It means a lot to me. Hopefully, my presence in Formula E will bring a new ground to audiences in India and more people watching Formula E. I think there's a lot of scope to grow and we have one and half billion people back home. So hopefully some good results and working well with the brand like Maserati, we can hopefully deliver good results and grow together as a sport.”
On it being the hardest challenge of his career
“I think Formula E is probably one of the hardest championships out in the world, you have top quality brands racing against each other with the highest of technology. As well as the drivers, all of them are professional and they are all very good drivers if you see what they've all achieved in their junior careers. All of them are one of the best drivers in the world. So everything has to click. It's definitely not going to be easy and I think it will be my hardest challenge in my career, something that I am cherishing and looking forward to. I have a great team behind me and hopefully my rookie season can be one I can remember.”
On a future in F1 vs Formula E
“No, I definitely see my future in Formula E. It's obviously very important for me now as a driver to deliver because at the end of the day it is a performance based sport. So if I don't deliver good results, I won't be around for too long. My goal is to work hard and put all my efforts off track and show good results on track. To answer the question, I think it was quite an easy decision for me. I've had a good single seat career so far. Obviously, as James [Rossiter, team principal of Maserati MSG Racing] mentioned earlier, some seasons are good, some seasons are bad. And this season didn't really go to plan for me. But I have a new opportunity. It's my first year as a professional racing driver. So I'm really looking forward to it. I do have the hunger and desire to go out there and prove myself against one of the best drivers in the world.”
Read the full report on Jehan's move to Maserati here.