DILBAGH GILL’S JOURNEY TO FORMULA E
Istanbul doesn’t have much of a well-known connection to the history of Formula E.
But for Mahindra Racing, it was in many ways the genesis point, especially for the man who formed, managed, nurtured and turned it into a winning proposition.
Dilbagh Gill was in the Turkish capital city back in September 2013, when he received a call from Anand Mahindra, the visionary Chairman of the board and Managing Director of the Mahindra Group.
The call was brief, but importantly it detailed an exciting new mission for Gill. He was deployed to manage Mahindra Racing so that it could represent the automotive manufacturing giant on a thrilling new electric global stage; the FIA Formula E Championship.
I still remember his words to this day,” recalls Gill. “He said ‘I don’t want the world to feel that Indians are the last to anything. And I don’t want us to be the last team coming into this championship.’
Mahindra Racing was far from the last team to sign up. In fact, it was the eighth and one of the original founding teams, and Formula E seemed to be the perfect fit. Mahindra’s racing ethos was already well-known; it had seen the establishment of the Mahindra Reva electric vehicles division and also become a force in motorcycle racing.
We strongly believe that Formula E can provide an excellent global showcase for our electric vehicle technology,” said Mahindra, upon its entry to Formula E being made public at the end of November 2013.
With advanced operations and expertise in electronics, IT, automotive technologies and manufacturing, we are already seeing the fusion of this technology into our electric vehicle operations. Racing will further accelerate that trend while Formula E is set to raise awareness globally about the benefits of electric vehicles.”
For Gill there was no time to lose as he concentrated on establishing a team to run the effort from an operational, technical, sporting and business standpoint.
Always embracing a challenge, Gill had competition and sporting passion in his blood from an early age, and a little known fact is that he once donned tools as a mechanic for Bowman Racing in Indian Formula Three in 1993.
Gill first met the founding fathers of the Carlin Motorsport operation – Trevor Carlin and Martin Stone – when he was working for the Bowman concern which pre-dated Carlin.
It all came full-circle in 2014 when the deal was completed for Carlin to become the operational partners for Mahindra’s first Formula E campaign with Carlin single-seater old boys Karun Chandhok and Bruno Senna.
His brief work in F3 apart, Gill’s main achievements in motorsport were in the sports business and technology fields after working for eight years as Vice President for Sports Practice and Advisory Relations for Tech Mahindra in the USA.
This included the huge IT operation at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa for which he and his team won the best run sporting event award at the Sports Event Management Awards at the end of that year.
Gill was continuing to manage sports initiatives for the Mahindra Group in 2013 when he took that momentous call from Mr Mahindra in Istanbul.
It was to be the start of an epic journey which saw Gill form a few iterations of the Formula E team which tasted triumph three times in the 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons with Felix Rosenqvist and Jerome d’Ambrosio.