Chandhok: “We still have a lot to learn”

Karun Chandhok Formula E Mahindra Racing Test Donington Park

Mahindra Racing driver and Formula One star Karun Chandhok spoke exclusively to Formula Future at the 2014 British Grand Prix to discuss his team’s ambitions and progress at Formula E’s first test in Donington Park.

Formula Future:

Karun, the Donington Park Formula E test ended just yesterday and was the first official timed competitive event of the season. You showed some strong pace over the two days. Is that important?

Karun Chandhok:

The test isn’t really about performance or laptimes at all. The test is actually all about learning – that’s what we were all there for. Nobody cared about position at Mahindra – all we care about for now is how much information and data we can gather and how much we can learn.

Formula Future:

Did you achieve all your goals?

Karun Chandhok:

We did okay, I think! We learnt a reasonable amount and we’ve gathered up a reasonable database of information – especially in terms of power usage. There’s still a lot to learn about the recovery stuff, though. We have a lot of data to analyse for next week about the regeneration and there’s still a lot of work to do so we can optimise it. There’s still a lot to learn.

Formula Future:

From a driver’s point of view, how do the Formula E cars compare to, say, Formula One?

Karun Chandhok:

I don’t think it’s something you can really compare. At the end of the day, it’s a formula that isn’t in competition with Formula One and people need to understand that. It’s not in competition with Formula One, GP2, Formula Three, or anything like that because it’s its own branch of motorsport. It’s a new and totally different way of going racing. Formula E is about developing and mastering new technologies and transferring those technologies to the real world.

Formula Future:

How does Mahindra plan to transfer the technology to the real world?

Karun Chandhok:

Mahindra owns an electric car company, so one of our main jobs at the racing team is to develop technology on-track which we can transfer to our road cars. For example, we have four engineers coming from Bangalore in India for next week’s test. They’ll work with the race team and take what they learn back home with them to apply to our road cars. That’s what Formula E is all about!

Formula Future:

Is the experience of driving a Formula E car what you hoped it would be?

Karun Chandhok:

I was actually pleasantly surprised! In qualifying mode it’s as powerful as a Formula 3 car, so it has reasonable grunt. I was pretty impressed. Okay, we had some reliability issues but overall we’ve done a good job.

Formula Future:

You mentioned the reliability of the car – were there any surprises?

Karun Chandhok:

It’s been okay. There have been a few issues as you’d expect in a pre-season test. Overall it’s not been too bad.

Image credit: FIA Formula E

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