Interview with Formula E rookie Jehan Daruvala: "The beginning of my professional journey in racing"
After Jehan Daruvala was a test and reserve driver for Mahindra last season and was also allowed to drive the car at the rookie tests in Berlin and Rome, the Indian switched to Maserati MSG Racing ahead of the new season. At the Monaco-based team, he will be Edoardo Mortara's successor and thus Max Günther's new team-mate.
As the only Formula E rookie of 2024, Daruvala faces a major challenge: all the other drivers have already had at least one season of experience in the electric racing series, 20 of them even with the Gen3 car currently in use. We met Jehan Daruvala in Valencia and talked to him about the challenges of Formula E as well as his first home race after more than ten years.
Jehan, how excited are you about your first Formula E season as a regular driver with Maserati MSG Racing?
It's the beginning of my professional journey in racing, let's say, and to do it with a team like Maserati means a lot to me. They had a very good second half of the season last year, so the package is very good as well. As a rookie to come into such a high level championship like Formula E where the level of drivers is also very high, the level of teams is very high, it's great to be part of this team and a great opportunity to prove myself. I'm looking forward to it and hopefully, all the preparation that I do behind the scenes it shows a back on the race track as well.
What is your impression after the Valencia tests?
In the end it was a decent start, I would say. More than anything in testing it's more important to get comfortable with the car, comfortable with the systems. Also super important is the relationship of the driver and the engineer, to have that kind of conversation fluent. The more time I spend in the car, the better for me. Obviously, there's a lot for me to improve.
"You have to treat the car more smoothly and be less aggressive"
What exactly do you need to improve?
I think mainly, the style of driving a Formula E car is quite a bit different to a Formula 2 car. I would say, in general, I'm just to aggressive at everything. You have to treat the car more smoothly and be less aggressive. The tires cannot take as much, combined grip and energy. So, I think, just getting use to the car on the real track is always helpful. I'm quite good in adapting to what I need. Also, it's difficult because we don't have much time to get out the car and look at the data between runs.
Are you looking forward to having a home race in India next year?
Yes, definitely. For me, I'm always very happy when I go home. Honestly I haven't driven a home race for over ten years, I think. So, to drive at home, will feel very, very nice. Also, I received already a lot of support last year, even as a reserve driver. So as a main driver this year it will be very nice. I'm sure, I'll be very busy this weekend, but I'm very much looking forward to it.
What do you think about the quick charge pit stops that will be introduced next season?
I think some pit stops will make the race more fun. As it is, there is already a lot of action. So, this will add some action. But unfortunately we didn't have a proper chance to test it. I'm sure that between the teams and the FIA they will find a good solution. The fast charging will probably go ahead and it will make the racing even more exciting.
Which result in the overall standings would you be satisfied or disappointed with at the end of the season?
That's a really difficult question. I have zero experience in this category. If you were talking about F2, F3 or something that I've done before, it's much easier to put a number. But the level of driver are very high. There's plenty drivers, maybe all 22 drivers, who can win races. So, it's super difficult to put a number on it. But honestly, I just want to have a good season, to score good results and then just focussing on race by race. Honestly I'm not in any position to be thinking right now about the championship because I don't really know anything of how it's going to go.
Now the 2024 season is upon us, but behind the scenes preparations are already underway for 2025, when the Gen3 Evo is due to arrive. Then there will be four-wheel drive in Formula E. What do you think about that? What do you think about that?
I've only driven single seaters with a rear wheel drive. Here, so far, only the regen is on the front powertrain, but the power is delivered on the rear. It will definitely be interesting. If you ask drivers for more traction and more grip, they will always say 'Yes'. In the end, I don't see why not. Even road cars which are four wheel drive, are nice to drive and quite grippy. I guess, if that's what the FIA think is correct, I think a lot of drivers will be on board with it as well.
Who do you think is the best driver in Formula E?
I don't know, it's very difficult to put a name. I raced with a lot of them actually in the past. In terms of friendship, I'm very close with Sasha Fenestraz, with Oliver Rowland, with Dan Ticktum. Oliver used to be my driver coach when I started racing. Now to race against him is quite special and I would rate Oliver as one of the top drivers on the grid.
One final question: Have you ever driven a Maserati on the road?
Yes, just recently. I drove the Maserati Grecale about ten days ago. I'm going to keep it.