Not many weeks left until the seventh season of the 2020-2021 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, which is set to kick off on January 16, in Santiago, Chile.
We had a chat with Mahindra Racing’s team principal Dilbagh Gill, and here is what he had to say about the new M7 Electro, drivers and the season ahead:
EVW: What are you looking forward to in the upcoming seventh season of the ABB FIA Formula E season?
Dilbagh Gill: This is an incredibly exciting time for Mahindra Racing. We are heading into the championship’s (and the team’s!) seventh year in Formula E and the first year ever as a World Championship series. Formula E has gone from strength to strength over this time, and we are extremely proud to have been part of that journey from the very beginning. We have a very exciting calendar ahead – returning to some old favourites, as well as heading to Seoul for the first time. The times have been very close in testing with the whole field within 7/10ths of each other, and so, so I’m looking forward to some very exciting and close racing on the track.
EVW: Great driver line up: Alex Lynn & Alexander Sims, both come with a wealth of racing experience. Where do we see the team in the Championship next year?
Dilbagh Gill: The team has been working incredibly hard to develop the M7Electro challenger, and we have an exciting new driver line up with a strong pairing of Alexander Sims and Alex Lynn. They have spent a lot of time both in the simulator and on the track testing and these preparations have gone well. We have had a solid group test in Valencia with Alex Lynn topping the timesheets on Day 2 and both drivers demonstrating great pace in qualifying set-up. Whilst we won’t know our competitiveness fully until the lights go out in Santiago, I am confident that we will be back to securing podiums this season.
EVW: How different the M7 Electro car is compared to the M6 Electro?
Dilbagh Gill: Ahead of Season 6, we announced a long-term technology partnership with ZF Friedrichshafen AG. Underneath the cover of the M7Electro is the first ZF developed powertrain; the integrated team of Mahindra Racing and ZF engineers have worked tirelessly to produce a competitive new package for the season, despite the challenging circumstances that 2020 has brought.
Also new for Season 7 is a technical innovation for the M7Electro’s transmission system, in conjunction with team partner Shell. Working closely with us and ZF, Shell has developed a dedicated e-Transmission fluid for the M7Electro. The e-Transmission fluid enhances the efficiency of the transmission to deliver further optimised on-track performance.
EVW: For the first time we will see two night races in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia. How different does it get for the night car set-up?
Dilbagh Gill: It doesn’t make a difference in terms of set-up for night versus day – set-up is based on the usual considerations such as track characteristics and weather.
EVW: This year the team was accredited with FIA Three-Star for sustainability, the first-ever team to receive it in Formula E. How is the team working toward a net-zero future?
Dilbagh Gill: Sustainability is not a buzz word for Mahindra Racing. It is ingrained into our ethos and a big part of the reason we are racing in Formula E; working to develop and promote cutting edge EV technology and to promote the ‘race to road’ programme, to improve the next generation of consumer electric vehicles. I could not be prouder of the team for the hard work and dedication in the area of sustainability, which resulted in the historical moment of receiving Three-Star accreditation from the FIA.
We are always striving to be as sustainable as we can, whether it be our recent office move where we utlised an existing building to minimise our carbon footprint, our employees using reusable drinks bottles and not single-use plastic, right through to working with suppliers and partners who share our vision. For example, our autograph cards are made from 100% recycled pulp and recycled ink, and the majority of the kit items produced for the team for Season 7 will be fully sustainable, made using recycled and organic fabrics.
EVW: Will we see Formula E coming to India anytime soon?
Dilbagh Gill: We absolutely want to get to a point where there is a race in India, and we’ll continue to support Formula E to realise this ambition. It’s an important market and a great country and we know that the people would embrace Formula E. It can’t happen soon enough.
EVW: How challenging has this year been due to the COVID-19 pandemic at the managerial side?
Dilbagh Gill: This time last year, we could never in a million years have predicted what would happen in 2020, with our racing activities halted for a period of five months right in the middle of our season.
During that first lockdown, the main thing I focused on was that everyone being safe and well during this time. People have been able to spend time with their families, which in motorsport you never normally get, so I think that’s been good for many racing professionals. Our priority was keeping the whole team safe, but, at the end of the day, we’re racers and we want to go racing, and so we’re thankful that a solution was found to enable us to do that in Berlin.
The biggest challenge for us during lockdown was uncertainty, for sure. We are used to things being scheduled and timed. But running the team was (surprisingly!) not as difficult as expected. In challenging times people step up, and that’s exactly what happened. A lot of magic has come out of many people, and I’m truly proud of the team.
EVW: Currently, how many team members are working in the factory and with how many different nationalities?
Dilbagh Gill: We have 64 team members from 14 different nationalities.
EVW: What message would you like to give to those who would like to make a career in racing and in areas like marketing, engineering, PR in motorsport?
Dilbagh Gill: Follow your dream and work hard; be a true passioneer!