Roberto Merhi replaces Oliver Rowland for the Jakarta E-Prix
Roberto Merhi replaces Oliver Rowland for the Jakarta E-PrixMahindra Racing

"My target is to be close to Lucas," Roberto Merhi, Mahindra Racing’s new driver talking about his debut weekend at the Jakarta E-Prix

Following the news of Roberto Merhi driving for Mahindra Racing in Jakarta, we caught up with the driver to understand his strategies and goals for this weekend as well as the future.

With Frederic Bertrand shaking up the team structure and making changes, Roberto Merhi was called upon to replace Oliver Rowland mid season at the Jakarta E-Prix. Having only done a rookie test before, this is going to be Merhi's debut weekend in Formula E. We sat down with him to understand how prepared he is and what are his goals for the weekend.

As told to Aatish Mishra.

Q: It's your first time racing in Formula E, but we know you've driven the car before in the Berlin rookie test and so what are your impressions of the car and how is it different from other cars that you've driven in the past?

A: The track is very tricky, to be honest. I am not used to driving with so little downforce on the car that you cannot hit the brakes, as normally you wish to hit the brakes very hard but on this car, you cannot hit them very hard. And we'll have to practice to try to get into the rhythm, then I can maybe make good progress. This weekend my target is to try to improve every session that I am doing on the car and to try to end up with strong results. But yeah, the team is helping me a lot with the preparation for the race. We have done a lot of sim sessions and are now working with engineers. Lucas (di Grassi) has given me some tips also, so let's see how it goes.

Q: Jumping in midseason, is it a lot of pressure? How are you feeling?

A: Yes, I think it's a bit of pressure, but I am used to it. Normally doing these kinds of things, I don't get nervous. Normally, I just try to go out, enjoy and try to do my best and if I enjoy it, I will be good. If I don't enjoy it, I will not be good. I know myself.

Q: Do you have a goal for the weekend?

A: To be honest, I think it depends. Realistically I think I need a bit of time in the car. I also don't have enough experience to know where I can be. But I think the important thing is to learn as much as I can and to get as much information as possible. And as I say, if we see that the progression is going well every session and that I am improving, I think that is the most important thing. It depends on where you start, if you start bad, you can improve. But the main target is to try to be not too far from Lucas and to end up as close to him as possible. I think that will be good progress this weekend, so maybe my target is to be close to Lucas.

Q: What have your last few days looked like ever since you got the call?

A: Pretty crazy, to be honest, because I got the final confirmation Saturday at 11 o'clock in the night. And they told me already a week before or probably eight days before that there was a chance that I will be here driving, but I was on standby. And then finally on Wednesday morning, they told me that I will not drive. But then on Thursday, they called me again to tell me that the possibility was open again. Then it was a bit messy because I was supposed to be in Japan all this time, I went to Italy with Carlos Sainz to support him for the Imola Grand Prix but then that was cancelled when we went to Italy, then I was supposed to fly from Italy to Japan and I was waiting for the team to tell me if I drive or not and I changed my flight like four times in one week.

Q: Do you like street circuits or do you prefer race tracks?

A: Depends on the circuit. I like Macau, it is the best track in the world in my opinion. But I like Monaco too because drag is nothing special. I like street circuits because it’s like you’re doing over 160kmph and you’re very close to the wall.

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