Indian racer Jehan Daruvala will make his professional racing debut next year in the FIA Formula E Championship with Maserati MSG Racing.
After four seasons in Formula 2, Daruvala will switch to the single-seater electric series next year, partnering with Maximilian Günther.
The 24-year-old was the reserve driver for Indian team Mahindra Racing this year in Formula E alongside his Formula 2 commitments for MP Motorsport.
“I am super excited for my first season in Formula E and my first season as a professional racing driver. I think it will be the hardest challenge in my career, and I am looking forward to it,” said Daruvala after securing the drive.
“I learnt a lot being on the sidelines last year because Formula E is very different from what I am used to. But now I am looking forward to being a race driver. Everyone thought I would naturally go to Mahindra, but it was huge for me when we got the opportunity from Maserati MSG Racing. They are a brand with a lot of heritage.”
On the challenges ahead, Daruvala said, “There is going to be a lot of preparation before the season starts. With so many big brands competing, the margins are tiny. I have been in Monaco at the simulator for the last few weeks, learning about the car and software. It is going to be a huge learning curve.”
Explaining the decision to hire the Indian, team principal James Rossiter said, “he caught my eye when he went third fastest in the rookie test in a Mahindra, which was not very competitive and ended up seventh overall. That was a clear indication that he has the right skill sets to succeed in Formula E.”
“It (demands) a unique driving style, and one must have a certain amount of adaptability to show your speed in that situation, so that was impressive. Also, being a race-winner in Formula 2 speaks for itself, and you can’t underestimate how difficult it is to win a race in F2. Now it is about bringing the best out of Jehan, and you can judge him on the results he will achieve with us.”
The announcement comes when Hyderabad is set to drop off the calendar next year after hosting the first race in February 2023. But whether the presence of the Indian driver could change things remains to be seen.
Daruvala will become the second Indian after Karun Chandhok to race in Formula E.
Chandhok - India’s second F1 driver - raced for Mahindra in the inaugural Formula E series in 2014-15, but it was not an FIA world championship back then.
The racer from Mumbai is a product of the Sahara Force India Formula One team’s ‘One-in-a-billion’ talent hunt conducted in 2011.
The team shortlisted three drivers before selecting Daruvala to join the Force India young driver’s academy. He has been based in the UK for the last decade and has raced in Europe, from karting to Formula Renault 2.0, European Formula 3, Formula 3, and Formula 2.
The Indian finished third in the FIA F3 championship in 2019, which helped him become part of the reigning F1 world champion Red Bull Racing’s young-driver programme from 2020 to 2022.
But in Formula 2, even though he has shown flashes of pace with four race wins, he has not had the consistency to mount a title bid. His best effort in the series was seventh in the championship in 2021 and 2022. This year has been challenging as well, with just three podiums, and he is currently 12th in the standings with one round left in the season.
Commenting on his realistic goals for the season, Daruvala said, “It is not results-oriented but more to do with the work I do behind the scenes, the work in the factory in the simulator, and getting as well prepared as I can. The results will then take care of itself. I will aim to fight consistently for points and be at the sharp end of the grid through the season.”
When asked how long it would take him to adjust to the Formula-E style of racing, the Indian felt, “I have been fast in everything I have driven, and a qualifying lap is something I can do. The racing will be the part I must adjust to the most. There is a lot of learning to do behind the scenes, like managing energy. It will be mentally difficult, but I feel I can cope with it.”
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