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Formula E

The Formula E self-critic facing a major slump

by Sam Smith
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

It’s difficult to name another Formula E driver who has suffered a tougher start to the 2022 season as Mahindra’s Alexander Sims.

Sims, who Mahindra team boss Dilbagh Gill described as his own “biggest critic” of the two self-inflicted errors that punctuated the start of his campaign, will return to the scene of his best 2021 result at the Rome E-Prix early next month.

That was the last time Sims stood on a Formula E podium, with a barren streak of results in the second half of last season contributing to him eventually finishing a lowly 19th in the standings.

It included four retirements and a total of just 30 points from the final 11 races of the 15 races calendar. This compared with the 73 collated in the same span of races by then team-mate Alex Lynn, who was ultimately replaced in the team by Oliver Rowland for 2022.

A late-season resurgence came in the final race at Berlin where Sims qualified fourth and finished fifth.

This year, Sims’ second with Mahindra after a 2020 move from BMW i Andretti, has seen him yet to make it through into the new duel phases of qualifying and also crash out of both the second Diriyah E-Prix and on the opening lap of the Mexico City race last month.

The errors have prompted Gill to describe to The Race that Sims is “sometimes his [own] biggest critic and that he’s “taken [it] quite to heart in terms of his performance for the first three races”.

Mexico City Eprix

“But he knows it’s not to his level in terms of expectations,” added Gill.

“I think he knows he’s got the pace and he’s looking forward to Rome because that’s a track where he was quite good last year. I think he’s just sort of looking forward to getting back in the car and getting this behind him.”

Gill opined that Sims would likely have preferred not to have the seven-week break between the Mexico City race and the Rome double-header, saying that for a driver of Sims’ level of experience it would have been “better to get back in the car and correct it.”

“It’s really not like he’s a younger driver, who needs to go to maybe a psychologist or other support. He knows all of that, he’s got all of that in him.

“So, I think for him the best remedy would just be track time, get in the car, and go and start doing laps.

“He’s spent a lot of time in the simulator also analysing. But again, like the Mexico race error, it was fairly early. So, there’s really not much to learn, he was just in the wrong place, the wrong time, put the car in the wrong area.

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“Riyadh bothered him more, because that was when he had the pace, and the strategy was coming in. That error I think hurt him a lot, and he has to put it behind him.”

Gill has overseen a recent recruitment push at the team which is designed to bolster the technical push at its Brackley base in readiness for the Gen3 era later this year.

The team has had several different structures it has worked within since it entered Formula E in 2014. It began its life being run by the Carlin Motorsport team before developing a relationship with the Campos stable between seasons two and five.

Gill then assembled an in-house team that has included hires such as former Mercedes High Performance Powertrains strategy team leader Josef Holden.

Now, some new appointments have been made, including former Force India and Aston Martin engineer James Rogers, who will head up the vehicle dynamics department from mid-May onwards.

Former Wirth Research engineer Mark Herd, son of March F1 founder Robin, also joined Mahindra recently after a three-year stint at the UK Atomic Energy Authority.

“We’re not looking at changing the team greatly, but we’re looking at augmenting the team,” said Gill.

“So, there are a few new people that have joined us. What is quite interesting is that couple of months ago, we did what we call a perfect organisational chart, as a perfect means to what we wanted to achieve.

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“We are having a half-yearly review with the team. And it’s quite encouraging because our entire organisation chart what we wanted has been filled.

“One or two people are yet to join us, but they have been identified and they will be coming in the next couple of weeks to join.

“But we’ve had some interesting folks come in from Formula 1 and other series joining the team. For once, we have an entire full UK based team.”

The Race understands that former operations and sporting director David Clarke recently left the team and that his position will not be filled with a direct replacement.

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