Rowland still targeting F1 role for 2016 season

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Oliver Rowland is still working on securing a role in Formula 1 for the 2016 season, but remains open to racing in other top line championships such as GP2 or Formula E.

Rowland followed in the footsteps of Carlos Sainz Jr. and Kevin Magnussen by winning the Formula Renault 3.5 title in 2015, claiming a record-breaking eight victories and scoring points in every race.

Rowland also raced in a handful of GP2 events and tested for three teams, and made his Formula E debut with Mahindra Racing in Uruguay on Saturday in place of the injured Nick Heidfeld.

Speaking to the Formula E website, Rowland said that although he remains focused on securing an F1 role for 2016, he hinted that he is open to a seat in Formula E on a permanent basis.

“Number one priority for next year is still Formula 1 but it’s very difficult,” Rowland said.

“Certainly [Formula E] is a top level championship and I think it’s something that every driver wants to compete in. Let’s see what happens, they may be an opportunity to continue here next year.

“But it all depends a little bit on what happens in the Formula 1 scene and if I have a deal for next year.”

Only two seats remain on the F1 grid for 2016, both at Manor, but Rowland is not thought to be a leading contender.

2015 drivers Alexander Rossi and Will Stevens are both known to be in talks about a new deal for next season, while Mercedes youngster and DTM champion Pascal Wehrlein is also another consideration.

Rowland said that he believes Formula E boasts the best grid in motorsport given the success of drivers such as Jacques Villeneuve, Sebastien Buemi, Sam Bird and Nelson Piquet Jr., all of whom have won world titles.

“Just being here and the profile of the other drivers – if you look at them I would argue that it’s the best grid of drivers in the world anywhere,” Rowland said.

“I think Formula 1 has ten exceptional people, but also probably five that shouldn’t be there, but in this everybody deserves their opportunity.”

Rowland finished 13th on Saturday in Punta del Este, but was upbeat despite failing to score any points on debut.

“I enjoyed my first Formula E weekend,” Rowland said. “There has been a lot to learn about the technology and the race procedures and it has been an enjoyable experience for me.

“The car felt good in qualifying and without the slide in the final sector on my qualifying lap, I would have started in the top ten. As a driver, it is always frustrating not to release the full potential of the car but the grip just wasn’t there in the race.

“This weekend has been eye opening for me. Formula E creates close, challenging racing and is a series the drivers really relish.

“I enjoyed driving the M2Electro. Mahindra have built and impressive car and it has been great to see first hand the passion that both fans and drivers have for this sport.”