Punta del Este|18 Dec, 2015

Rowland: “It’s the best grid of drivers in the world”

Mahindra Racing have a new face behind the wheel this weekend with Oliver Rowland stepping in to replace the injured Nick Heidfeld. We caught up with the British racing star to get his thoughts ahead of his Formula E debut…

What attracted you to Formula E?
“I didn’t quite realise before I became more involved following the deal with Mahindra, how difficult it was from the driver’s perspective in the race. It’s quite interesting and it’s quite good I think that it’s not all about speed in qualifying and that you can overtake. 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. I think Formula 1 has 10 exceptional people, but also probably five that shouldn’t be there, but in this everybody deserves their opportunity. I’ve had a good year and hopefully I can come here and have a strong performance.” 

Is this something that could lead to something more?
“Number one priority for next year is still Formula 1 but it’s very difficult. Certainly this 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.”

Have you followed the Formula E races?
“Not madly, but I’ve watched bits. I watched this race last year and I remember when Jean-Eric was on pole, which I thought was pretty good.” 

Can you replicate that?
“I think the development of the cars means it’s a bit open at the moment. I don’t think anyone really knows, I certainly don’t really have a clue how competitive the car is, but the team are pretty confident they have a good car – Nick was on the podium at the first race, Bruno was fifth at the last one – qualifying may be difficult because you don’t get many chances to do a 200kW lap, but I’m quite confident in the race that we can make good progress.”

What do you think the feel of the car will be like from a driver’s perspective?
“As I said it’s difficult under braking, the tyres are completely different to a slick, but like any racing car I’m just going to push it 100 per cent, drive it to the limit and then see where we are. I don’t have a special technique or way that I’m going to drive it differently to how I normally drive, I’m just going to go out there, get close to the walls and have fun.”

Do you normally go well on street tracks?
“I was on pole in Formula Renault 2.0 at Pau. I was on pole in Monaco by 0.9s in my group, so yeah I like street circuits. It’s a big challenge already as the drivers are at another level compared to what I am used to. Let’s see, but if it all goes well, I’d like to see myself in the top six.”