Karun Chandhok, Mahindra to end ties after disappointing FE season
Karun Chandhok and Mahindra Racing have decided to part ways after a "disappointing" inaugural season of the FIA Formula E Championship, in which the sole Indian outfit on the grid finished a below par eighth out of 10 teams.
New Delhi: Karun Chandhok and Mahindra Racing have decided to part ways after a "disappointing" inaugural season of the FIA Formula E Championship, in which the sole Indian outfit on the grid finished a below par eighth out of 10 teams.
The team is expected to announce a brand new line-up for season two on August 10, the opening day of the official pre-season testing to take place at Donington Park.
Chandhok, who was the sole Indian to compete in the inaugural season of the fully-electric series, told PTI that Mahindra have decided to go for a revamp going into season two beginning in October.
"It is looking increasingly unlikely (that I will carry on with Mahindra Racing). Obviously season one was a disappointment for us after a good start. We seem to have differing thoughts on what direction the team needs to go in to improve in season two.
"Ultimately Dilbagh Gill (team principal) has decided he wants to experiment with some changes to the overall team and from my side I am going to step away and spend the next few months refocussing on my options in sportscar racing and also some new projects," said Chandhok, who raced in Formula E alongside his 2010 Formula 1 teammate Bruno Senna.
Chandhok finished 17th in the Championship with 18 points and the fifth place in season opener at Beijing was his best performance. His Brazilian teammate Senna had a rather inconsistent campaign, eventually settling for 10th spot in the standings with 40 points. The fourth-place finish at season-ending London E Prix was his best effort.
Team boss Gill said the drivers line-up will be announced on Monday, neither confirming nor denying the possibility of going ahead with fresh faces.
"We are very close to deciding on the drivers for the upcoming season. We have tested with a lot of exciting drivers in the past one month and we are evaluating who is best for the team. Whoever comes on board, the bottomline is performance of the team. Last year was disappointing to be honest. We did not perform to our capabilities. It wasn't acceptable to anyone in the team," Gill told PTI from his Boston base.
Chandhok, on his part, added that there was no question of bad blood between him and the team.
"There is no real falling out but ultimately we all have to believe in what we are doing and if we don't then the results won't come. I still have a great equation with people at Mahindra and we are speaking about different ways for me to continue working with them on other projects.
"Le Mans this year was a superb reminder for me of just why I enjoy racing and I think when you are enjoying something, you automatically drive better," said the 31-year-old from Chennai.
Mahindra had a highly experienced line-up in Chandhok and Senna but Gill said it was unfair to only blame the drivers for the forgettable outing last season.
"Both Karun and Bruno performed admirably in their own ways. Karun did well in the opening few races while Bruno showed sparks throughout the season. From a team's point of view, we would have definitely wanted Bruno to be more consistent.
"Overall, we failed to convert our speed of free practice into qualifying and race. We have learnt from that and we are better prepared than last season. We have a much faster car and more engineers on board, some of them having F1 experience. The rear suspension is modified. We have a brand new gearbox, brand new motor, both developed by Mahindra. We should be and we will be much higher up on the grid than season one," said Gill.
The Indian outfit has also snapped ties with Carlin Racing and has entered into a partnership with Campos Racing, the Spanish squad which has the experience of running teams in GP2 and F3. Campos partnered China Racing in the opening Formula E season with team's Nelson Piquet Jr winning the title by a point.