Mahindra Racing in Formula E: A look back at Team India’s performances over the years
Mahindra Racing is an Indian racing team founded in 2011 and is based out of Banbury, UK. The team is one of the founding members for Formula E and has participated in every single season since. With five race victories, 22 podium finishes and a third place constructor finish in its time in Formula E, Mahindra Racing is one of the dominant forces on the grid. As the future of automobiles leans more towards electricity, Mahindra Racing has doubled down on its efforts in Formula E and are breaking new ground as an Indian manufacturer on the world motorsport stage. In addition to racing, the ‘Race to Road’ program allows them to use the technology they acquire in Formula E in their road cars. With that said, let us take a look at the journey of the Indian team over the years in Formula E.
Over the Years
Formula E's inaugural season took place in 2014 and Mahindra Racing was one of the ten founding members of the all-electric racing series. The team used a Spark-Renault SRT_01E which was a standard chassis given to the teams across the grid. Karun Chandhok and Bruno Senna were the first drivers to race for the Mahindra Racing team and despite an inconsistent season, they managed to show signs of brilliance and improvements through the races. The best finish for Karun Chandhok in the season was at the season opener at the Beijing E-Prix when he finished fifth and for teammate Bruno, it was the last race of the season at London E-Prix where he finished fourth. Overall, the team finished eighth in the championship after securing 58 points and facing four DNFs.
The following season, Mahindra Racing obtained the status of a manufacturer as it developed its own powertrain. The chassis was christened M2Electro and it was impressive out of the box. It was a consistent mid-field car in the hands of Nick Heidfeld and Bruno Senna as Chandhok was dropped for the season. By the end of the season, the team moved up to fifth in the constructor championship with two podium finishes. The best finish for Heidfeld was at the first round of the season in Beijing securing a third position, while Senna on the other hand, finished second in London. The team faced only one retirement during the season.
The third season (2016-17) was the best for Mahindra Racing in Formula E yet, going by the results. In this season, the Indian team secured P3 in the constructors championship with 215 points which was 110 more than the previous season. It also secured nine podium finishes, one victory, three pole positions and two fastest laps. The M3Electro was very competitive and was also closely running for the championship title. Senna was replaced for the season with Swedish driver Felix Rosenqvist who secured Mahindra Racing’s first ever victory at the German E-Prix. Heidfeld remained consistent throughout the season and managed five podium finishes. Mahindra Racing faced only two retirements in the season.
In the following three years, the team didn't have the same competitive package as they had in the 2016-17 (S3) season but they were a constant threat in the midfield. In the opening stages of the 2017-18 (S4) season, Rosenqvist was fighting the drivers championship title with two victories under his belt but as the season progressed, he fell out of contention.
In the 2018-19 (S5) season, we saw a change in the driver lineup with Jérôme d'Ambrosio and DTM’s youngest ever DTM champion of the time Pascal Wehrlein. Behind the wheel of the Mahindra M5Electro car, the team managed to come sixth in the constructor championship. They also managed to grab a win at Marrakesh and a second place finish at the Santiago E-Prix in the season. Pascal Wehrlein left the team in the middle of season six (2019/20) and was replaced by Alex Lynn.
Mahindra Racing has been performing consistently over the years and even though they may have hit a few bumps in the road to the Formula E world title, the Indian side doesn’t seem to back down from the fight. Season 7 is coming to a wrap at the end of the week at Berlin and the fight in the championship is really tight in the mid-field. Mahindra Racing currently stands seventh in the championship with 122 points and Berlin has been a strong track for the Indian side in the past.
FIA Environmental Accreditation
The FIA Environmental Accreditation Programme is an initiative and rating system by the FIA to help motorsport teams and bodies measure their ‘environmental performance’. By introducing a clear grading system for the teams and governing bodies, it provides them with a three-level framework against which to accredit their activities.
Mahindra Racing had initially received a Two-Star Accreditation in November 2016, but by 2018, the team managed to reach the Three-Star Sustainability Accreditation which made them the second motorsport team in the world and the first in Formula E to achieve it. Moreover, they are the only motorsport team to be certified Net Zero Carbon Footprint since inception. The company’s commitments towards climate include being carbon neutral by 2040, continuing to be 'water positive' and achieving 14 zero-waste-to-landfill certified facilities that enables the company to recycle, reuse and compost more than 140,000 tonnes of waste a year.
Additionally with its Mahindra Hariyali initiative, the company commits to plant one million trees per year. The plantation currently stands at 18 million trees after 13 years' work.
Dilbagh Gill, Mahindra Racing CEO said, “Sustainability is not a buzz word for us.” He added, “I could not be more proud of the team for the hard work and dedication, which has now resulted in this historic moment of receiving Three-Star accreditation from the FIA. 2020 has been incredibly tough and, for me, it is a special moment to be able to take a huge positive from the most challenging of situations.”
‘Race to Road’ Program
The ‘Race to Road’ program is Mahindra’s way of bringing technology and hardware from the racetracks of Formula E to the roads of the daily drivers. Shell and ZF are working closely with Mahindra to realise this vision, and transfer this technology to the hands of customers. With that, Mahindra Group acquired the Pininfarina brand in 2015 and in less than five years Automobili Pininfarina brand was able to roll out the Battista. The high-performance sustainable sports car and luxury electric vehicle manufacturer is based in Germany, and forms part of Mahindra Group's strategy to offer a full spectrum of EVs. The Battista boasts of a 120kWh battery, which gives an output of 1900bhp and reaches 100kmph in less than two seconds. It is also able to travel 400-485km on a single charge. Moreover, it can reach speeds of up to 360kmph.
Dilbagh Gill, Mahindra Racing said, “We are getting enormous technology feedback from the race track. Formula E is our laboratory in that sense and that is part of the reason we will succeed in high-end electric vehicles.”
Mahindra Racing is one of the few Indian-origin manufacturers who are competing on a global motorsport stage. With the push for innovation and a constant urge for improvement, this team has always been competitive in Formula E over the years. We should also remember that Formula E is a world championship event, and among the competitive events in the motorsport world. So far, the team has come close to winning the series and with the burning fire to achieve that goal, hopefully they achieve it in the seasons to come. So tune in for the final double header of the season at Berlin from August 14-15. The Berlin E-Prix will be aired on the Formula E app, Hotstar, Youtube and Star Select.