Mahindra focused on evolution, not revolution, for season two in Formula E

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One of the biggest dilemmas that engineers in motorsport face is ‘evolution or revolution?’ – and it is set to be the question that defines the second season of the FIA Formula E series.

For season one, teams were restricted to using the powertrain supplied by the championship, but they are now permitted to build their own in-house.

Eight of the ten teams have obtained manufacturer status for the second season, including Mahindra Racing. Dragon Racing are being supplied a powertrain by Venturi GP, while Team Aguri will retain the season one model.

As with any innovation in motorsport, the danger of not keeping up with the competition is that you will fall behind and struggle to keep up.

On the flip side of that though, those who get their new designs wrong may find themselves in a hole far deeper than those who stuck with what they knew. Just ask McLaren in Formula 1 this season.

So heading into season two of Formula E, there are three routes: play it safe and keep the season one powertrain; try and evolve that into your own powertrain for season two; or go all-out with a unique design.

All three routes are being taken by the teams on the Formula E grid, as shown during testing at Donington Park earlier this week. For Mahindra, run by team principal Dilbagh Gill, it is very much the middle ground.

“Putting our thoughts through the powertrain, we took a view for season two, with the limitations on battery power and stuff like that, we don’t really want to go out and go and do something really crazy,” Gill told MotorSportsTalk

“That’s what we’re going to save for season three. Season two is more of, for want of a better word, an evolution for us.”

Given that there are still caps in place on the power that can be used by the cars for season two, it appears that the gains that can be found are not so great to justify a massive overhaul. It is for this reason that Team Aguri has stuck with the season one powertrain.

However, as Gill explained, Mahindra were already feeling the benefits of working something up in-house.

“I think we’ve been able to evolve quite a bit because, for example on the motor, we’ve been able to get another 20% in terms of torque,” he said.

“Overall efficiency of the system has gone up around 2.5%, which is pretty good for what we anticipate.

“The difference we can gain in this championship compared to others… It’s not like a horsepower championship. Because there as you develop, you can get incremental horsepower to use.

“Here we are still capped in the amount of power we are using, whether it’s 200kw for a qualifying or 150kw for a race. So that sort of puts sort of a cap on some of the efficiency that we are bringing in.

“So working within those power cap limits, I really don’t see that there should be too much of a difference coming in. There will be a difference, but you’re not going to start seeing the grid spread that much.

“It’s going to be more a question of reliability, optimisation, strategy and stuff like that which is going to come.”

But reliability is already proving to be a sticking point for some. Mahindra has enjoyed a highly successful testing programme so far, using all 15 of its private days before heading to Donington Park earlier this week where drivers Nick Heidfeld and Bruno Senna had no major problems.

The same could not be said of NEXTEV TCR, the team of defending champion Nelson Piquet Jr., though. After completing just three laps on Monday, the garages were deserted on Tuesday as the cars were transported back to Germany to be fixed.

After missing Monday’s running, Amlin Andretti appeared to have worked things out for Tuesday when it sent Simona de Silvestro out at the beginning of the morning session. Her car did not complete a full lap.

Another four attempts followed across the course of the day, but all ended in the same fashion thanks to major software issues. Trulli didn’t even get its car out of the garage. Neither team has completed a full lap with its season two car as of yet.

Evolution or revolution? It’s a fine line to walk, but could be the dance that makes or breaks the seasons of the teams racing in Formula E this season.

Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
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Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.