Former F1 driver Karun Chandhok explains why it is a good time for Formula E to come to India
Ahead of the inaugural ePrix in Hyderabad, former F1 driver-turned-presenter Karun Chandhok shares his excitement over Formula E in India, speaks about the electric mobility revolution in the country, the Hyderabad track and more.
By Karun Chandhok
The Formula E World Championship heads to India for the first time this week, with the inaugural ePrix in Hyderabad. As the only Indian to have raced in the series, I'm excited to see the field land on Indian shores and put on a good show for the people in the grandstands.
The electric mobility revolution is certainly unfolding rapidly across the globe, and India is no different. With Indian brands such as Tata and Mahindra launching EV ranges and the government taking proactive steps to push the electric infrastructure across the country, this is a good time for the premier all-electric racing championship in the world to come to India.
Of course, both of the brands I mentioned are involved with Formula E. I was closely involved with getting the Mahindra team on the grid back in 2014 when I drove for them, and it's been good to see the TATA group join the party via their Jaguar brand.
One of the unique aspects of the Formula E World Championship is that they race largely on the streets of cities rather than on permanent race circuits. This presents an opportunity for the cities to show themselves off by putting up a globally viewed event whilst creating a real high-speed challenge for the drivers in between the concrete walls.
I think the track in Hyderabad looks really interesting and will be one that the drivers will enjoy. The Telangana government and the promoters at Greenko have done a very good job identifying a part of the city that will look great as a showcase on TV and provide a great backdrop for the event itself.
The track has 17 corners, with a good mix of fast and technical sections for the drivers and cars. I spent some time driving the track on a simulator last week and was really impressed with how flowing it was.
Formula E has introduced its third generation of cars this season, with a huge emphasis on energy regeneration under braking. When the drivers press the brake pedal, the cars produce 600 kilowatts of energy which is put back into the battery to help them go even further.
The Hyderabad track has some fast sections alongside the lake, but there are crucially some good braking zones which will help this energy regeneration and also provide some overtaking opportunities during the race.
I was heavily involved with the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Delhi, which ran from 2011 to 2013 and was a real boost to the sport in our country.
In a country like India, where you have one dominant sport in cricket, it's always a challenge for other sports to carve out a space for themselves, but hopefully, the spectacle this weekend will draw the fans in.
The racing thus far in the opening three races of the Formula E season has been entertaining to watch, with lots of overtaking amongst a high-quality field of drivers.
In both Mexico City and Diriyah, where the three races were held, Pascal Wehrlein and Jake Dennis have finished first and second, with two wins for the German and one for the Brit to put them at the head of the standings.
However, it's still early days in the title campaign and there could genuinely be half-a-dozen contenders this weekend.
(Karun Chandhok is one of the only two Indians to have raced in Formula 1. He also raced in the inaugural Formula E season back in 2014)