Mahindra Racing’s Oliver Rowland believes the driver line-up in Formula E is as strong as any other motorsport series in the world as he comes to terms with an underwhelming start to Season 8 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.
Rowland heads into this weekend’s 2022 Shell Recharge Berlin E-Prix with just four points to his name, following three consecutive DNFs, and sitting 16th in the Drivers’ Championship.
Hopes had been high for the Barnsley driver heading into the season with his new team Mahindra, but approaching the half-way point he has rarely been a feature at the front of the grid on race days.
Berlin ePrix
Mortara takes Berlin E-Prix spoils to reinvigorate championship push
16/05/2022 AT 00:05
Formula E is known for having arguably the most competitive grid in motorsport and this has been proven again this year with five different winners in the first six races of the season.
And speaking ahead of the weekend’s double-header in Berlin, Rowland believes the strength of his competition on the grid - as well as a spate of bad luck - goes a long way to explaining his slow start to the season.
“Formula E has always been extremely competitive,” he said. “The level of drivers is as good as anywhere in the world to be honest. You know that if you want to go and win a race, you have to be on absolute top form, especially with the new qualifying format.
“The last three races we've had three DNFs, as well as the DNF in Round 1, so four DNFs out of six races. It’s been pretty disappointing by any standards.
“I think [we have had] bad luck though. Monaco was clearly my fault, I was a bit over optimistic and misjudged it to be honest, I was easily at the inside and the move was kind of done.
“But in the first race in Riyadh, Robin Frijns hit the back of me when we were in sixth, and then the other two [in Rome] I think were also unfortunate.”
Adding to those misfortunes, Rowland was keen to highlight the difficulties with joining a new team and the adaptation period involved.
Team-mate Alexander Sims admitted recently that he had felt a bit lost in the Mahindra car in what has been an equally disappointing season for Rowland’s compatriot.
“It's been lots of work,” Rowland continued. “I’ve been quite hands-on with understanding what our issues are and how we improve them. The slightly frustrating thing is that we are always finding things that we need to improve.
“It's stressful when you have to work hard to find new things all the time, but I really think we're headed in a good direction and we're starting to really understand some things. And actually, since Monaco, I think we hopefully have found one of the last layers and really starting to understand some good things. I'm quite positive going into Berlin and for the rest of the season.”
The 29-year-old has every reason to feel optimistic heading to the Tempelhof track. Rowland’s sole victory came in Berlin – in Season 6 – and he secured a podium in the final race of Season 7 at the circuit.
The Tempelhof Airport Street Circuit is a challenging track with the high-grip concrete taking its toll on energy and race strategies – a fact Rowland acknowledges.
"It is quite a difficult race in terms of time management and energy management," he said. "You have to be quite tactical in that respect. It can be extremely tricky with the tires overheating throughout the lap and having to find a good balance. It's not an easy place to get everything right.
"I think like most of the races this year, it’s going to be extremely close in qualifying. And then heading into the race, it'll be a pretty tactical race, I imagine lots of slipstream and saving energy. We could also come across some battery temp issues, depending on how hot it is at the weekend.
"I have this thing where if I say I don't like somewhere, and I'm not looking forward to it, I usually go quite well. So, [let’s say] I'm not looking forward to the weekend!”
And Rowland and his Mahindra team will be hoping that his superstition pays off as the Englishman faces a crucial weekend in his bid to kickstart his season on Saturday.
The ABB FIA Formula E World Championship’s most extensive calendar to date continues in Berlin this Saturday, May 14 live on Eurosport 2 from 14:00 BST and on Sunday, May 15 from 14:50 BST.
Catch-up on all the information as the series builds up to the 2022 London E-Prix, which returns this year on July 30 & 31:
Berlin ePrix
'I have had a bad time' - De Vries delighted to secure Berlin E-Prix victory
15/05/2022 AT 17:16
Berlin ePrix
Mortara takes Berlin E-Prix spoils to reinvigorate championship push
14/05/2022 AT 16:34