Mahindra test driver Daruvala targets cockpit in 2024: "My future lies in Formula E"
Jehan Daruvala has been a test and reserve driver at Mahindra Racing since this season. In parallel, the 24-year-old Indian competes in Formula 2 for the reigning champion team MP Motorsport. After leaving the Red Bull junior program, Daruvala has not yet completely lost sight of Formula 1, but in his fourth Formula 2 season he is also setting his sights on Formula E, where he sees a future for himself.
Formula E is "Plan B" for Daruvala, he said, after finishing only seventh overall in the past Formula 2 season with Prema. The doors toward Formula 1 are currently closed for him.
"My season didn't really go to plan last year, it wasn't the best year," Daruvala explained to 'Feeder-Series.com'. "So I had to look for options outside Formula 1, and Formula E was the best for me. Since Mahindra is an Indian team, and I am an Indian driver, I think it was the best combination. It worked out well for both of us."
"My future is mainly in Formula E," he describes. That's also why he has ruled out other open-wheel categories such as the IndyCar or Super Formula for this year. Daruvala wants a regular cockpit at Mahindra for 2024. "Going to America or Japan for one season wouldn't really make much sense. Neither would doing nothing for a year."
"I had the opportunity to come back to Formula 2 with MP," Daruvala continued. "I wouldn't be here if I hadn't ended up with a top team. I'm here to win and I'm going to do my best. Hopefully now I have a package to show the world what I can do. I believe I can be the best and win the championship."
"Won't get the seat just because I'm Indian"
However, he would by no means be given a regular place in Formula E as a gift. "Mahindra expects me to fight at the front and win races. I will get the seat (in Formula E) only because of my performance. Not just because I'm Indian."
"Being a reserve driver is one thing. But I want to be in the cockpit soon," he further described. "I need to do well in Formula 2, that's not a given. I have to fight for the championship here and earn my place for next year, wherever. Hopefully my season will go well and I can race in Formula E next year."
"Some relationships end at some point"
Daruvala now sees a move up to Formula 1 as rather unrealistic, which is why he also left Red Bull Racing's sponsorship program after last season. The decision by those responsible at Red Bull to sign former Formula E champion Nyck de Vries to AlphaTauri instead of a young driver from their own academy also played a role it seems.
"Some relationships end at some point," explains Daruvala. "They didn't see me in their Formula 1 team (at AlphaTauri) this year. Nor did they give me the opportunity to be a reserve driver. So it didn't make sense for me to stay in the junior program."
"Red Bull still has a large number of drivers in Formula 2," he says, seeing too much competition there. "It's been a good three years for me to be there. Hopefully I can beat all the juniors they have in Formula 2 and make them regret that decision at the end of this year."
The Formula E rookie test in Berlin on April 24 was Daruvala's first opportunity to get behind the wheel of the team's Gen3 racer. The Indian finished 3rd and 6th in the two sessions, with a fastest lap time of 1:05.902 minutes, some 1,5 tenths of a second off Lucas di Grassi's Mahindra best, set by the Brazilian in the Saturday race.
At the Rome E-Prix, an additional free practice session for Formula E rookies will be held in mid-July. Daruvala is then expected to once again sit in the Mahindra car.