The Mumbai-based company, Mahindra Group, has announced that it is to compete in the FIA Formula E Championship from 2014 under the name of Mahindra Racing.
They become the eighth team to join the new series, which is set to host its first race in Beijing in September next year. At the same time, one of Japan’s leading broadcasters, TV Asahi, has taken exclusive TV rights for the series in Japan.
The Mahindra Group is one of the largest multinational corporations in India and covers a broad range of businesses. Expertise in aerospace, agriculture and financial services now includes the ‘e20’ electric car and the decision to move in to Formula E came naturally.
“We strongly believe that Formula E can provide an excellent global showcase for our electric vehicle technology,” said Mr Anand Mahindra, Chairman and Managing Director of Mahindra Group.
“With advanced operations and expertise in electronics, IT, automotive technologies and manufacturing, we are already seeing the fusion of this technology into our electric vehicle operations. Racing will further accelerate that trend while Formula E is set to raise awareness globally about the benefits of electric vehicles.”
The move to car racing comes after three years in the MotoGP paddock, competing in the 125cc class in 2011, before switching to the newly-named Moto 3 series in the last two years.
Mahindra Racing become the eighth team to join the Championship and have less experience than many of their competitors. They are the third team from Asia, following China Racing and Super Aguri’s inclusion, who have previously competed in A1 GP and Formula One respectively.
Andretti Autosport and Dragon Racing of Indycar are to be joined by Drayson Racing, e.dams and Audi Sport ABT from Europe to make for a healthy field with almost a year until the inaugural season.
“We are very proud to have a major global company like Mahindra join the FIA Formula E Championship,” added Alejandro Agag, CEO of Formula E Holdings. “
“Adding a manufacturer from India to what is already a real global mix of teams is fantastic news for the series. Everything is coming together very well and we look forward to presenting all ten teams to the FIA World Motor Sport Council next month.”
Meanwhile TV Asahi announced on November 29 that they’ve taken exclusive Japanese broadcasting rights for the Formula E Championship.
They will show live coverage of all Formula E races as well as practice and qualifying sessions with a potential reach of 51.4 million households. Fuji TV has long held the F1 rights, but this marks the first move back into motorsports for Asahi since 2003.
“TV Asahi has acquired the exclusive rights to the live broadcast of the new FIA Formula E Championship in Japan,” said Hiroshi Hayakawa, President of TV Asahi. “This will see a return to motorsport for us since the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2003. For us, the striking difference of Formula E compared with existing motorsport events is their attempt to adopt new features such as the ‘real-time gaming’ directly connected to the race and ‘Push-to-Pass’ linked with the SMS platform – both elements which embrace the next generation of broadcasting.”
He added: “In a world where a new structure of TV broadcasting is demanded, we are convinced that Formula E has the content which appeals not only to the existing motor sport fans but also to the youth generation that fully utilises multimedia.”
The first run of a Formula E car, the Spark-Renault SRT_01E, was completed last week by test driver Lucas Di Grassi. The Brazilian former Virgin Racing driver completed 40 laps of the La Ferte Gaucher circuit in France, using an electric motor with just 50kw of power, a quarter of the 200kw battery that will be raced next year.
“It is a great feeling to be driving the Formula E car for the first time,” said Di Grassi.
“I can assure all the drivers will have a lot of fun with this car – even with just a quarter of the power it has quite a lot of grip and the electric motor produces huge torque.”