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Formula E is the ‘future’ — Maserati team talks Portland race, track changes, and more

Formula E drivers share what it's like to drive for Maserati MSG

Maserati MSG Racing Formula E Maserati Tipo Folgore race car during the Sao Paulo e-Prix.
Maserati MSG Racing Formula E Maserati Tipo Folgore race car during the Sao Paulo e-Prix Maserati MSG Racing / Maserati MSG Racing

Four races are left in all-electric Formula E’s 10th season, including double-headers on June 29 and 30 in Portland, Oregon, and July 20 and 21 in London. Earlier this week, the Maserati MSG Racing Formula E racing team held a virtual media roundtable to discuss Maserati’s Formula E racing success and share their thoughts on the remainder of the season, particularly the upcoming races at Portland International Raceway.

Maserati and the Maserati MSG Racing team in Formula E

Maserati MSG Formula E drivers Maximilian Günther and Jehan Daruvala.
Maserati MSG Formula E drivers Maximilian Günther and Jehan Daruvala Maserati MSG Racing / Maserati MSG Racing

Formula E has become even more important to us as we start a new era of electrification,” Roberta Marchetti, Maserati Corse Communications Manager, explains. “E-Prix is a perfect opportunity to promote the link between Formula E and our Folgore range, focusing on technology transfer from the track to the road.”

The Portland race plays a big role in the team’s strategy. Liz Brooks, Maserati MSG Racing Director of Strategic Communications, notes, “The US is an incredibly important market for Maserati and Formula E in terms of the growth of motorsport fans.”

Marchetti adds, “We are in the final rush of the season, and our team is very focused on taking points and climbing the ranking. We are very proud of Maserati MSG Racing’s good performance in the first part of the season, with Max’s [Max Gunther] victory in Tokyo and third place in Misano. And now, it’s time to approach round number 13 and number 14 in Portland. It’s the crucial final part of the season.”

Maserati MSG Racing Formula E Maserati Tipo Folgore.
Maserati MSG Racing Formula E Maserati Tipo Folgore Maserati MSG Racing / Maserati MSG Racing

Expanding on the team’s performance thus far in its second season in Formula E racing, Giovanni  Sgro, head of Maserati Corse (the racing division), says, “It was great to see Max Günther on the podium in Tokyo, the first Formula E race in Japan. Tokyo is a very important market for the Maserati brand. That victory was another milestone for us since we returned to racing as the only Italian luxury brand in Formula E.”

For Sgro, racing is just part of Maserati’s DNA. “We celebrated 110 years of history this year, which began on the track,” he says. “The evolution from the combustion engine in many circuits around the globe, racing in Formula 1, GT, and Indianapolis 500, to electrification in Formula E has been an exciting journey for us.”

By 2030, Maserati plans to produce only electric vehicles, which Sgro says will only make the Formula E platform even more valuable. “It allows us to demonstrate performance and meticulous design to a broad audience,” he says. “We have had very proud moments throughout the last two years, and we’re excited about the races in Portland, which will be the second time we’ve been here.”

The drivers’ perspective

Maserati MSG Racing Maximillian Gunther.
Maserati MSG Racing Maximillian Gunther Maserati MSG Racing / Maserati MSG Racing

How do the race car drivers feel about the upcoming doubleheaders in Portland and London?

“I have a good feeling about racing in  Portland,” Formula E driver Maximilian Günther shares. “Portland is the fastest track of the calendar, and we achieve a very high top speed at the end of the straight into turn one especially. It’s a great challenge in qualifying, so you must push it to the limit. It’s lots of fun. But the race is completely dynamic because the slipstream effect is big on a track like this one.”

Maserati MSG Racing driver Jehan Daruvala.
Maserati MSG Racing driver Jehan Daruvala Maserati MSG Racing / Maserati MSG Racing

Fellow driver Jehan Daruvala adds, “As a rookie, doubleheader weekends have a lot of positives. You have an extra free practice session, an extra qualifying event, and an extra race. Many tracks are new to me, and there are many things to learn. With single-race weekends, you have to wait a year to race that track again, so being able to race the next day is a huge advantage. So, currently, I like the doubleheader weekends.

I’m very much looking forward to the Portland races. Last year, I was in Portland as a reserve driver, looking on from the sidelines. I’ll be in the car this year, so I’m very excited to make my Portland debut,” he adds.

With most of his first season as a Formula E driver behind him, Daruvala shares his thoughts on what it takes to be a good Formula E driver. “The levels of the teams and the drivers in Formula E are very, very high. You cannot make any mistakes,” he says. “To put it in perspective, in China, I was one-and-a-half tenths [of a second] off the quickest guy in my group in qualifying, and I started the race in P18. That’s how close the competition is, so there’s no margin for error.

Yes, it’s an electric car, but we drive it normally,” he continues. “You have a throttle, you have a brake, and you push them to the limit. As a driver, the advantage of not having the sound [of ICE engines] is you hear everything very clearly. For example, you hear how the tires behave, when you go off the track,  when you pick up the throttle, and how the car slides in different types of corners.”

Daruvala notes that the Peloton style of racing in Formula E is completely different: “With Peloton-style racing in groups waiting for your chance, there are opportunities from start to end, and it’s about picking your moments and understanding the car, the motor, and the battery.”

Track changes for the Formula E season 11 calendar

Maserati MSG Racing in the Maserati Tipo Folgore race car in London e-prix.
Maserati MSG Racing in the Maserati Tipo Folgore race car in London e-prix Maserati MSG Racing / Maserati MSG Racing

The Season 11 Formula E calendar has several track location changes from Season 10. Season 10 had a doubleheader in Misano, Italy, but no Italian tracks are in the Season 11 calendar. Also, Formula E will not return to Portland for Season 11. The only U.S. track in the Season 11 calendar will be in Miami on April 12, 2025. (There are also rumors of a second U.S. Formula E race in Los Angeles.)

How does the Maserati team feel about these changes?

Maserati MSG Racing Maximillian Gunther during the Shanghai. e-Prix Race.
Maserati MSG Racing Maximillian Gunther during the Shanghai. e-Prix Race Maserati MSG Racing / Maserati MSG Racing

It was super special last year in Rome and this year in  Misano,” Günther says. “So yeah, it’s a big shame, I think, to lose an Italian venue. The fans are also always amazing, and the food is always great. So yeah, it’s a big loss.”

Maserati MSG Racing driver Jehan Daruvala during the Shanghai e-Prix Race.
Maserati MSG Racing driver Jehan Daruvala during the Shanghai e-Prix Race Maserati MSG Racing / Maserati MSG Racing

Daruvala agrees: “It’s a big loss for our team and for us as drivers to not race in Italy. The soul and passion of motorsports started in Italy. For me, winning my first point in Formula E in Misano will always be a wonderful memory, as it happened in Italy.”

For his part, Sgro adds, “It’s disappointing not to see a home race for us in Italy. As Max said, the fans are fantastic, and there’s always a tremendous sense of pride when any Italian citizen sees an Italian brand such as ours compete in a sport, in this case, motorsport. So, it will be sad to see that race disappear from the calendar next year. But I’m hoping it’s going to come back eventually.”

That said, Sgro still sees plenty of promise. “Miami is a great place to race, and Florida has a rich racing heritage. I’ve lived in America and in California for several years, so I think Los Angeles, if that becomes an actual city [on the Formula E schedule], would be good for the Championship,” he says. “California is important in the automobile space and an invaluable arena for racing. So, if there were a Formula E race in Los Angeles, California, it would help this championship grow.”

Will Maserati Corse expand its racing beyond Formula E?

Maserati MSG Racing Formula E Maserati Tipo Folgore race car.
Maserati MSG Racing Formula E Maserati Tipo Folgore race car Maserati MSG Racing / Maserati MSG Racing

I think the electric motorsport space will continue growing,” Sgro predicts. “I’m not sure if it’s going to cannibalize, in the short term, any combustion engine motorsport racing, but it is growing, and I think the future is electric. Even though Formula E is 10 years old, I think we almost consider ourselves pioneers, too, having joined two years ago. It’s been exciting to be part of a championship that’s just continuing to grow, and I think it will continue to do that in the short and long terms.

“As far as Maserati is concerned, it’s about credibility because we’ve raced since 1926 with the Tipo 26 through to today, in 2024, in Formula E. So, we’ve raced in every type of championship you can imagine,” he continues. “For us, Formula E is the future because it allows us to emphasize strongly that we will produce only electric cars. So, going into Formula 1 or anything else like that is probably out of the question, and we will focus on Formula E 100%.”

Bruce Brown
Digital Trends Contributing Editor Bruce Brown is a member of the Smart Homes and Cars teams. He also writes technology news…
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