Edoardo Mortara has become a well-established name in the Formula E world since he burst onto the scene in Hong Kong in season four. It was a race that the Swiss-Italian driver should have won, but a late mistake in Sunday’s race saw him drop to third place from the lead with two laps to go. Daniel Abt crossed the line first that day but was later disqualified which promoted Mortara back to second. However, despite that mishap, Mortara has always been a driver who looked destined to become a Formula E World Champion. In our May 2022 edition, we featured the 36-year-old as a future champion.
Unfortunately for him, that feat has yet to be accomplished, as he missed out on the season eight championship by finishing third. Last season, proved to be a difficult year for Mortara, as Venturi changed its name to Maserati going into the GEN3 era, and the car proved quite difficult to get the best out of it during the season. But after six years of being with the Venturi/Maserati team, Mortara has decided to move to Mahindra Racing partnering Nyck De Vries for Formula E’s tenth season. ”It felt like we had come to the end of an era,” stated Mortara. “I think that the change was also positive for me as well as the team.
“Of course, I do have a lot of friends there, and it was a good time together. I wish them the best for the future, but I am also looking forward to fighting them on track now and starting this new chapter with Mahindra.”
Interestingly, it seems like Mortara knew straight away that both parties were on the same wavelength when he was approached by Frederic Bertrand about the possibility of joining the Indian side.
“It was clear when we started talking that we had the same values; we could understand each other quite well. This was the case with Frederic and I understood quite quickly that there could be a future with this team. There is a clear plan in my head of what we want to achieve but it’s more for him to explain. As a driver, my goal is to make sure that I do my best, as well as giving my best direction in terms of developing the car, and helping make sure we keep to the plan that Frederic wants to move the team in.”
The pre-season Valencia test proved to be a difficult start for both Mahindra and Mortara through no fault of their own. During the first day of running, a fire broke out in the Williams Advanced Engineering garage which was placed next door to the Mahindra garage. The fire caused a lot of damage to the IT equipment, car parts and other specialised equipment belonging to Mahindra which forced the team to only be able to run one car for the remainder of pre-season testing. However, Mahindra was allocated extra test days in between the running in Valencia and Mexico to make up for their lost track time. Despite this, Mortara still explains the difficulties the team has going into the opening round in Mexico.
“Testing was not the easiest week for us as a team. The fire was not ideal for us and full credit to the engineers for the extra work that they had to do to get us ready to even go out on track. Once we were running, the test session was actually good for us; we were able to get a lot done luckily.
”When we were allowed back in the garage I think that was the moment when it hit us how bad it was. There were a lot of car parts that were damaged. It wasn’t just fire. Some things were water-damaged, and some were damaged by dust. The dust was pretty much all over the place and we didn’t even know if that dust was toxic. So it was a long waiting game to be sure that it was safe to even be in the garage. Once we had the green light we were able to go in. Then there was the big operation of getting a car ready, cleaning everything and dismantling everything. That took so much time, and some parts still needed to be cleaned, so we got the bare minimum we needed to run a car for the remainder of those test days.”
“We had to operate in a completely different way to what we would have done without the fire. We lost pretty much the entire IT structure. It might not sound bad, but in Formula E IT is crucial. It is an important part of how you operate as a team. We couldn’t even download the data from the car the usual way, we couldn’t even analyse the data; it was far from ideal and not what you want as a new driver in the team. It may have looked like we coped from the outside, but it was a serious challenge, mainly for those engineers. Honestly, I can’t thank them enough for what they did during that week.
“It’s also good that we have been compensated for the lack of running. Otherwise, we would be on the back foot going into Mexico which is not fair. So I’m happy that we will have some extra running to make sure we are as best prepared for Mexico and the season as possible.”
Mahindra had a difficult season last year, as they failed to push on from what was an amazing start to the year with a podium in Mexico. The Indian team spent most of the year battling their customer team ABT at the back of the grid. With the powertrain being homologated from the beginning of last season. Mahindra will have an uphill battle to turn around their misfortunes from last season. However, Mortara is confident that the team can make a step forward and challenge more consistently for points in 2024, as well as believing in Frederic Bertrand’s long-term plan for the future.
“I know last year was not ideal for the team, but from what I have seen so far I hope that we can be more consistent this season and be more competitive than we were last year. You can never be fully prepared, because there is always something that you could improve or work on: You are never 100%. In the three-month gap that we have, we will try and develop as much as we can and look over all the data back in the factory. Hopefully, we can improve the software and the mechanical setup of the car.
“Mexico will be the first time for us to see if we will be competitive this season, and if all our hard work has paid off. Obviously, the other teams won’t stand still for us to catch up. So it will be difficult, but not impossible, for us to move forward. All we can do is focus on us and do the best job we can until we get to Mexico and we find out where we are and what we still have to do.”
For Mahindra, the only way is up. Season ten looks more likely to be a stop-gap year for the team, but the foundations of progress have been laid out by Frederic Bertrand, as both Mortara and De Vries have been viewed as marquee signings for the Indian team.
Therefore, it will be interesting to follow the squad throughout season ten with a look ahead to season 11 when they can introduce a brand-new powertrain. Our prediction of Mortara becoming a future champion may look bleak at the moment, but if Mahindra can bring themselves back to the front of the grid-like they were during the fifth season of the championship, then in the hands of Mortara and De Vries that prediction could still come true