Mahindra: Rowland’s form against Buemi key to FE driver choice
One-time FE race winner Rowland will leave Nissan e.dams after three seasons to replace Alex Lynn at Mahindra in a multi-year deal, partnering fellow Brit Alexander Sims.
The 29-year-old compared favourably against Buemi during his spell with the Japanese marque, finishing within a point of his experienced teammate in his sophomore campaign with a maiden victory in Berlin.
As Nissan’s form dwindled in 2021 and Buemi endured his worst-ever season in FE, he continued to impress with podium finishes at Puebla and Berlin to finish just 22 points behind champion Nyck de Vries in the standings – although he did make some obvious errors over the course of the year.
Gill said Rowland’s qualifying prowess and racecraft made him an ideal candidate for Mahindra, and he forms a strong line-up for the team alongside incumbent Sims.
“We are looking to build for the future and with Oliver Rowland we have one of the best qualifiers in Formula E,” said Gill.
“When you look at him even historically, he has benchmarked himself against one of the best drivers in Formula E, which is Sebastien Buemi.
“I think Oliver has really come strongly over these three years, where he has progressed. We have a history together, a positive history. What we are looking at is like Oliver’s skills which he brings in qualifying for example and the robustness in racing.”
“We have to go forward now and put our claim out there on the ground and between Alexander Sims and Oliver we are not going to be conceding any inch going forward.
“I think that’s something really important because in Formula E it is pretty hectic, it gets pretty frantic in the races as you know so we have to sort of maintain position.
“We have a car which we know qualifies up front, and from there we can continue our progression. I’m really pleased with what we have right now with the strengths of both our drivers Alexander Sims and Oliver.”
Lynn’s triumph in the second of the two races at London ended a win drought for Mahindra stretching back to the Marrakesh E-Prix in January, 2019.
Gill credited Lynn for his role in Mahindra’s resurgence, having joined the team during the middle of a difficult 2019/20 season to replace the Porsche-bound Pascal Wehrlein.
“If you look at the strengths of Lynn, Lynn was a fantastic driver on our team who really contributed a lot,” said Gill.
“He stepped in at pretty difficult circumstances midway through a season and straight away in the six races in Berlin he was pretty strong and continued onto this year.
“At the same time we had a certain period of time we were contracted with Lynn and we went through it and we wish him the best going forward.”
Oliver Rowland, Dilbagh Gill, Mahindra Racing CEO and Team Principal
Photo by: Mahindra Racing
Rowland: Nissan’s slump didn’t play role in exit
After finishing runner-up to the DS Techeetah in 2019/20, Nissan was one of the favourites to topple the Chinese squad in the penultimate season of the Gen2 era.
But the Japanese marque endured a winless campaign as the belated introduction of its new powertrain failed to deliver on expectations, and it eventually finished one place behind Mahindra in 10th place in the championship.
Asked if a change of fortunes at Nissan played a role in his decision to join Mahindra, the team with which he made his FE debut back in 2015, Rowland said: “I wouldn’t say so. Not really.
“Of course, when you make these decisions you look at the momentum of teams. Clearly, Nissan had a good end to season 6 but it didn’t realise materialise in season 7.
“However, if you look at the speed we had, it wasn’t bad. In the races we seemed to struggle more than probably what we should have done. But likewise, had I not crashed in London with Stoffel [Vandoorne] even though I had a pretty unfortunate season, I would have been in the top three in the championship.
“I’m sure everybody has those things to complain about. In the end the performance was reasonably okay but probably didn’t match our expectations from the end of season 6.
“Of course, momentum is part of these decisions, but I wouldn’t say Nissan was performing any better than what the Mahindra guys were last year, to be honest.”