Mahindra and Andretti have both confirmed driver changes for this weekend’s Jakarta doubleheader, with two rookies set to make their debut.
Following a three-week break since the Monaco E-Prix, the Formula E World Championship returns to Southeast Asia this weekend for the 10th and 11th rounds of the 2022-2023 season, as the all-electric series heads to Indonesia.
Two new faces will be on the grid in the Indonesian capital, with Mahindra and Andretti having announced changes to their driver line-up ahead of the weekend. One change in particular is a crucial one, as an experienced member of the paddock has vacated their seat for the remainder of the season.
Mahindra Racing: OUT – Oliver Rowland / IN – Roberto Merhi
Mahindra announced on Sunday that Oliver Rowland had left following a “mutual agreement”, with the Briton having agreed to vacate his seat for the remaining seven races. Rowland has officially left the Indian manufacturer, which he joined from Nissan for the 2021-2022 season.
The Briton reportedly became frustrated with the outfit’s Gen3 powertrain, due to it struggling to compete amongst the points places this season. Rowland has only finished in the top 10 twice in the nine races this year, with his best result having been sixth at the Hyderabad E-Prix.
It marks a sad end to what could be the conclusion of his Formula E career; however, he does at least leave as a race winner. Rowland won in Berlin for Nissan back in 2020, during the COVID-19-affected season. Whilst he’s been a member of the grid fully since Season Five, his debut actually came for Mahindra back in Season Two, at the Punta del Este E-Prix.
Merhi’s Journey to Formula E
Replacing Rowland in Jakarta is ex-Manor Marussia Formula 1 driver Roberto Merhi, who recently participated in the Formula E rookie test for Mahindra following the Berlin E-Prix. The Spaniard is experienced in several categories, having raced in everything from Formula 1 to the World Endurance Championship.
Prior to confirmation by Mahindra, the 32-year-old has been competing in the Super GT championship in Japan, where his best result this year is seventh in Fuji. It’s yet to be confirmed whether Merhi will only be used in Jakarta or if he’ll keep Rowland’s seat for the remainder of the campaign.
Regardless of whether he’ll be competing just in Jakarta or in the remainder of Season Nine, the Spanish driver is “incredibly grateful” to Mahindra for giving him the opportunity, saying in their press release:
“It’s a huge honour for me to step in and represent Mahindra Racing for the races in Jakarta. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity and I’m determined to make the most of it.”
“I had a chance to drive the M9Electro at the rookie test in Berlin but Formula E is very different to any of the other series I’ve raced in so the learning curve will be steep. But I feel ready, excited and up for the challenge.”
Avalanche Andretti: OUT – André Lotterer / IN – David Beckmann
Unlike at Mahindra, this weekend’s driver change at Avalanche Andretti Formula E is just for the Jakarta double-header, with André Lotterer having commitments to fulfill with Porsche’s LMDh team. Lotterer is unable to compete in Jakarta due to being in Le Mans this weekend for testing ahead of the upcoming 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Andretti was aware that Lotterer was going to miss this weekend’s doubleheader; however, they’ve lined-up Porsche reserve driver David Beckmann to take his place.
The ex-Formula 2 driver recently tested for the Porsche Formula E Team in the rookie test, with the German being the side’s official reserve driver.
— TAG Heuer Porsche FE Team (@PorscheFormulaE) April 24, 2023
Beckmann’s Journey to Formula E
Beckmann is a former F2 podium finisher and last competed in the junior series in 2022. That season, he made one weekend appearance for Charouz Racing System and eight appearances for Van Amersfoort Racing. His best result was his final race in F2 when he claimed fifth in the Monza feature race.
Beckmann first appeared in the Formula E paddock last season as Andretti’s reserve driver, meaning he already has a relationship with the American outfit. Whilst he’s only filling in for the weekend, some have labeled Beckmann’s debut as a bit of an audition, with the expectation being that Lotterer will opt to focus on sports cars next season.
With that in mind, this weekend is a great opportunity for the 23-year-old to stake his claim for Lotterer’s seat, should the experienced German decide to call it a day in the all-electric series.
As per Andretti’s press release, Beckmann revealed how “excited” he is to “showcase my capabilities”, by saying:
“I’m super grateful for the opportunity to step in for André and represent the Avalanche Andretti Formula E Team in Jakarta.”
“Formula E is an incredibly competitive championship, and I’m excited to showcase my capabilities in this unique racing series. I would like to thank Michael Andretti and the team for trusting me with this responsibility. I’m going to give my best to achieve a successful outcome for everyone involved.”