DILBAGH DISCUSSES ABT SPORTSLINE AS MAHINDRA’S FIRST CUSTOMER TEAM
Last week at the London E-Prix we announced the exciting news that ABT Sportsline will race using a Mahindra powertrain in their return to Formula E in 2023. We sat down with our team boss Dilbagh Gill to discuss his thoughts on the big announcement:
- After eight years in the Formula E championship, Mahindra Racing has announced its first customer racing programme. What was the reason for this decision, and why now? We felt it would be better for us in this new generation of Formula E to work closely with another competitor to try to understand the car better and react with them at the racetrack. There are just six manufacturers left in the championship, so many are tying up with a customer team in order to maximise potential on track.
- How will the decision benefit the Mahindra Racing team? Will things differ in your own programme? It definitely puts a lot more work on the Mahindra programme because not only are we supplying the works team but we are also supplying the customer. I believe it will help us get our processes better, get us to push to higher levels earlier and also there is going to be a collaboration of different ideas and different thoughts coming together to get the best out of the car.
- Mahindra will be providing the powertrain to returning team ABT Sportsline – why this team? ABT are the only team over the seven years we competed against them who have beaten us every year. We have a very strong relationship, going back to the start as founding teams of the championship, and a lot of trust. On a personal level we get on very well too, so we decided that this would be the ideal customer team for us. With us being a smaller manufacturer and them being a private team, we can make decisions quickly too.
- You are both founding teams in Formula E – would you say your ambitions align? From a values cultural point of view we definitely align well, but also in our ambitions to be successful on track. They are proven championship winners so we would like to learn some of their processes and at the same time they will benefit from working with an organisation like us.
- Do you recall any stand-out moments battling ABT over the years? One of the most memorable (but heart-breaking) moments was Mexico Season 5 when we ran out of energy just 100m from the finish line and they went on to win the race! Season 3 was great fun with them too because we were very equal in performance and kept pushing each other. Over the years we have had some fun times with the team away from the track too and Thomas (Biermaier, CEO of ABT Sportsline) even famously lost a big bet to me once – the money is framed in my conference room!
- ABT engineers have been working with the Mahindra team already a little. What have they been working on? They’ve been looking through some of the data from Season 8 and getting an understanding of the way we are operating, but also starting on test planning for Season 9. It’s also largely just been planning how to divide work over the next six months because since the relationship has come on quite late so will be very flat out!
- This partnership is taking place as we head into the Gen3 era of Formula E – what does the new era mean for both teams and the sport? For us it is quite interesting because it is going to be a lot more relevant for what we are trying to do with the Race To Road programme – our ambitions for which will be announced very soon! From an ABT perspective it is part of a change in their organisation where they are starting to move a lot more towards electrification.
- What can we expect from the new powertrain heading into 2023? So far, the powertrain seems to have come out to the design specification, so we are cautiously optimistic that it will have a solid performance. Now it is up to us jointly to execute and bring those results on track.