Mahindra and Andretti Announce Formula E Drivers
By Automology June 1, 2014
Three more drivers have signed on to compete in the upcoming Formula E inaugural race in Beijing. Mahindra Racing has announced that Karun Chandhok and Bruno Senna will be racing for them while Andretti Autosport has chosen Franck Montagny as one of the two-man team.
Chandhok, who originally hailed from Chennai but now lives in England, is one of only two Indian F1 drivers. In 2010 and 2011, he raced for HRT and Team Lotus after testing for Red Bull in 2007 and 2008. His grandfather, grandmother (go, grandma!) and father were also involved in the sport, which makes racing his “family business”. He finished second in the privateers class at Le Mans in 2012 and this year, he has been racing in the FIA GT Series.
Brazilian Senna was a relative latecomer to the professional side of motorsport despite being the nephew of the late Ayrton Senna. From his debut in 2004, he very quickly graduated to GP2 in 2007, finishing an impressive fourth during his first season. He made his F1 debut in 2010, racing for HRT.
Chandhok and Senna will have the advantage of having raced as teammates before in both F1 and GP2, for HRT in 2010 and iSport International in 2007 respectively.
From 2004 to 2007, Frenchman Montagny was the F1 test driver for Renault, Jordan, Toyota and Force India; in 2006, he briefly moved up from his testing role to race for Super Aguri. He boasts 12 starts and four podium finishes at the Le Mans. Montagny and Andretti’s relationship goes back to 2008 when Montagny raced for the American team in the ALMS series, then in 2009 in the IndyCar Series and yet again in 2014 Grand Prix of Indianapolis.
There remain 13 out of the 20 drivers that have yet to be confirmed before the race in September.
The organiser has announced that it expects total viewership of the entire season to hit 205 million, averaging about 20 million each race. For comparison, F1’s viewership totalled 450 million last year. Similar to what we said before about the 150mph speed of the Formula E cars, ‘This is just the beginning.’
Broadcast agreements have been reach with ITV (UK), TV Asahi (Japan) and Fox (United States and more than 80 other territories), and most recently, CCTV (China). The tie-up with CCTV is an important milestone, as the first race would take place before dawn for the European audience, so the organiser is counting on high local viewership. The Chinese state-owned broadcaster can reach more than a billion viewers; if just 2% of the Chinese audience tune in to watch the electric racecars zip around the iconic Bird Nest stadium, then the ‘quota’ would already be filled.