Dilbagh Gill, team principal of Mahindra Racing, with ABT Sportsline chief Thomas Biermaier
Dilbagh Gill, team principal of Mahindra Racing, with ABT Sportsline chief Thomas BiermaierMahindra Racing

“The integration of ABT has already started” - Dilbagh Gill, Team Principal of Mahindra Racing, on Mahindra’s first customer team

On the sidelines of the Seoul E-Prix, we talk to Dilbagh Gill about the 2022 season, the partnership with ABT and the future of Mahindra Racing

The final round of the 2022 Formula E World Championship, the Seoul E-Prix, the first in South Korea, closes a chapter on both the intense 2022 Formula E season, as well as the Gen 2 regulations. We speak to Mahindra Racing Team Principal and bossman Dilbagh Gill about the season so far, the future and where Mahindra Racing might go ahead.

Mahindra’s 2022 Formula E Season

In one word, disappointing. For us essentially we did not get our qualifying right this year. The package is strong, we did a lot of work on race pace development which was a weakness last year. But with the format change and with the same homologation, we had some inherent issues in the way we designed the car last year. And the format went to a more merit based qualifying session, and we started getting caught out on it. Having said that, overall, we have been getting involved in too many accidents. We brought out the safety car six times in fourteen races which isn't a good statistic. Some of these accidents have been self-caused, some of these have been caused just because of the nature of Formula E. But overall it has been a year of underperformance from our side, we could have done a lot better.”

It is not a powertrain efficiency issue

If you look at all the statistics in terms of efficiency we are up there. It was more of our rear tyres being an issue. We chew our rear tyres a bit more than the competition, and that's been a problem in the last two years, is the way we have designed our cars, it is much stronger on longitudinal acceleration and we are not the best one on lateral. So when you come to some tight, twisty circuits, our tyres start to overheating then, and that's where our fundamental issue lies. So at the end of the races, it's more of managing the tyres than managing the powertrain. Powertrain efficiency is up there.”

Partnership with ABT Sportsline

A couple of things. One is that we know ABT for a couple of years, we have been racing them from season one to season seven, they took a break in season eight. They've been a great competitor. It was very flattering when they came back and they evaluated all the Gen 3 powertrains available, and obviously they spoke to other manufacturers, and they decided on us being the first preference. Because they strongly believe that the powertrain that we are designing for Gen 3 is better than what we had in Gen 2, which has been benchmark tested etc. And that's why they're coming. Our benefit from this is they've been a team which has been operationally very strong, they've been very successful, they've won the championship with both the driver and the teams. We think there's a lot of learnings which we can get working closely with them in Gen 3 by sharing data, reacting quickly. Because the car is quite a beast in Gen 3. It's quite a difficult car, with a lot of innovation coming in. It's the biggest step we have taken between two cars, between Gen 1 to Gen 2, and then Gen 2 to Gen 3. This step is so much bigger and we have lesser number of days in testing etc. So combining our might together will make us much stronger when we compete with some of the other brands in this championship.”

The integration of ABT has already started

“For us, it's hugely important, because we being a smaller team, we never had the resources to do a lot more testing on dynos etc. compared to some of our competitors. So now having four sets of eyes working on it makes a huge difference. The integration of ABT has already started. We've been working with them for the last couple of weeks now, in fact we have some of their staff here in Seoul working with our race team, testing and working. We've actually combined a large extent of the backend to make it like one big team. And that's the intention when you're working together, which is to push both teams forward. Obviously when it comes to next year which is gonna be the team to execute things best on track is a different thing. But overall learning from their processes, from their vast history in motorsport, across various categories in motorsport, what can they bring us to help Mahindra improve. Just them being in observation of the team has already given us some good value in terms of minor changes that we might have to do in terms of getting better results.”

The responsibility is on me to do a better job in Formula E before we look at expanding somewhere else

“We have evaluated or looked at other properties, but our focus right now is to, for lack of a better word, get our act together in Formula E. Let's focus on this, let's do a better job here than what we have done in the last few years. Largely the responsibility is on me to do a better job in Formula E before we look at expanding somewhere else. At the end of the day, it might not make sense for us to do other programs also. The learnings are essentially the same that come out of all of them.”

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