"Hopefully, I will drive for Mahindra Racing in the Formula E rookie test in Berlin (24th April),” said a confident Jehan when I spoke to him earlier in the year. The rookie test follows the two-day Berlin ePrix at the end of April.
After the high of the inaugural Hyderabad ePrix in February, could April deliver another memorable moment for Indian Motorsport and Formula E fans - an Indian driver driving for an Indian team?
Mahindra Racing has had a plethora of drivers test and race for the team since the inception of the all-electric series in 2014. However, only one Indian has raced for the team ever since - Karun Chandhok (2014-15 season).
Indian driver in Formula E
“Of course, it helps that I am Indian but I am there because I am good enough & have earned my spot on merit. Mahindra Racing signed me up because they believe I can win races in Formula E and not because I am Indian,” said Jehan.
In 2023, Jehan is in his fourth season in Formula 2. In the opening 6 races of the season, Jehan scored points in 4 races - including a double podium weekend in Saudi Arabia. He is currently 6th in the Drivers’ championship with 32 points - 26 points adrift from the top (Ayumu Iwasa leads).
While discussing his future in Motorsport, Jehan said, “Racing in single-seaters is my preferred option and Formula E is the future. The sport has grown immensely since inception. I would love to race full-time in Formula E. The level of drivers in the series is very high. Obviously, Mahindra Racing would be my preferred team for next season (2023-24)”
“But to get a seat in Formula E isn’t easy either! Mahindra Racing has made it clear that I need to perform at a high-level in Formula 2. There's always pressure since there aren’t a lot of places to hide when racing,” continued Jehan.
Jehan is yet to drive a Formula E race car, however, he confirmed that he had participated in simulator sessions with Mahindra Racing.
“A Formula E race car feels like a big go-kart!” said Jehan.
“There are no gears - and the car has a lot of power and doesn’t have much downforce. These cars make for good racing. The tyres aren’t racing slicks, so they’re sketchy and slippery while driving. The street tracks are super-cool - driving so close to the walls, I think that’s the most-fun part about it,” expressed Jehan.
At the inaugural Hyderabad ePrix in February, Jehan was the most-popular driver in the paddock - despite not racing in the ePrix himself. Along with fan and media interactions, Jehan drove hot laps in the Pininfarina Battista, an electric sports car. Jehan’s most-famous passenger was Sachin Tendulkar - India’s most-popular cricketer, and a self-confessed Motorsport aficionado.
“I hope to make it a bit better by being on the grid next year! The combination of being an Indian racing for an Indian team in India (in the Hyderabad ePrix) is definitely on my mind!,” said an excited Jehan. To this date, such a feat has never occurred in history - although Narain Karthikeyan did race in the 2011 Indian Grand Prix but it wasn’t for an Indian racing team.
Jehan also confirmed that he had been in discussions with Mahindra Racing for three years before their union. “Had I taken the Formula E route earlier, I would’ve probably had a race seat by now. But the team was patient with me while I pursued my Formula 1 dream,” explained Jehan.
Sharing more details about his future plans, Jehan said, “I signed with Alexander & Julian Jakobi (of GP Sports Management fame) & we are pushing together to find our best options for next season.”
“I need to just win (in Formula 2) - that’s the best way. In my situation, coming second or third won’t not be enough. In fact, even winning might not be enough (for a promotion to Formula 1). But I want to give myself the best possible chance by targeting a championship victory. Then, whatever happens, happens."
"Frankly, even if I win the Formula 2 championship, I don’t have expectations but I would hope that I get a Formula 1 seat! Maybe I deserve to race in Formula 1, but maybe I was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” confessed Jehan.
“It’s definitely not easy but there are a lot of drivers who have been in this situation over the years. We all set ourselves to achieve things but we don’t always end up achieving them. When I look back at my career, even if I don’t end up being the third Indian racing in Formula 1, I have definitely been the most-successful Indian in the ladder going up to Formula 1.” signed off Jehan.
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