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Maini wants to be "race-ready" for Mahindra Formula E call-up

New Mahindra reserve Kush Maini will be getting some mileage in a Formula E car “at some point” next year to ensure he is race-ready.

Kush Maini, Mahindra Racing

Maini was announced as Mahindra’s reserve driver for the 2024 season earlier this month, with countryman Jehan Daruvala - who previously held the role - leaving the team after a single year to race for the rival Maserati MSG squad.

As part of his job, Maini can be called in at the last-minute by Mahindra should race drivers Nyck de Vries and Edoardo Mortara have to miss a race for any reason.

Given the 23-year-old was signed late into the programme, well after last month’s pre-season test at Valencia, Maini has only been able to complete one session in the simulator so far in order to get accustomed to the Mahindra M9Electro.

However, the Indian manufacturer has planned actual track running in the car for its new reserve, the details of which will be finalised in January ahead of the start of the season in Mexico.

“My plan is still to be decided but I can tell you for sure that I will be in the car at some point, that is confirmed,” Maini, who also races in Formula 2, told Motorsport.com.

“I basically need to get race-ready just in case Nyck or Edo have issues and I have to be ready to jump in and race. 

“If I need to be ready to jump in on one day's notice and race, I'm definitely going to need time in the car and which they are definitely planning for me, which I will know in January. 

“On the other side of that I will be doing a lot of sim work. I will definitely be doing a handful of races where I will be coming as a reserve driver, first one being Hyderabad, which I'm super-super excited for.”

Nyck de Vries, Mahindra Racing, Mahindra M9Electro

Photo by: Sam Bagnall / Motorsport Images

Nyck de Vries, Mahindra Racing, Mahindra M9Electro

202/21 champion de Vries could miss the Berlin E-Prix in May due to a clash with his Toyota commitments in the World Endurance Championship, potentially opening up an opportunity for Maini to make his race debut.

Should Maini take part in the German race, it would make him only the third Indian driver to race in Formula E after Karun Chandhok, who drove for Mahindra in the inaugural season of the series in 2014/15, and Daruvala, who is slated to make his debut in the Mexico E-Prix on January 13.

Maini explained that a lot of factors will come into play in deciding who will get to replace de Vries in case he has to fulfil his contract obligations with Toyota, but feels there is “no reason” why he won’t be asked to substitute for the Dutchman if he is ready for a race drive.

“It just depends when the clash happens, if I feel I'm ready, if the team feels I'm ready, because at the end of the day it is all to benefit Mahindra," he said.

“I know I can be quick enough but Formula E is a lot more than being fast over one lap, so as long as I've grasped everything and I've had enough time in the car there is no reason [why I won’t be in the car]....if there is a clash with his racing and he can't do it, and if there is no clash with my Formula 2, which is the priority in my career next year. 

“So if there is no clash either way [with my other commitments], there is no reason I won't be racing. But again there is a lot of factors going into that.”

Aside from his role in FE as a reserve driver for Mahindra Racing, Maini will contest a second season in Formula 2 next year with Virtuosi after joining the Alpine Formula 1 Academy last month.

This means the 23-year-old, who is mentored by 1997 world champion Mika Hakkinen, is keeping his options open and considering a career in both F1 and FE.

Asked where his priority lies, Maini said: “Motorsport is very last-minute and anything can happen. 

“To be in a situation I am at, to have my feet in both doors is a massive privilege, and to learn as much as I can to see where my career takes me. 

“It's all going to depend on my season in Formula 2, so that's my priority and only focus really. 

“But to have these options is great and we will see where it takes me and we will have an idea at the end of the next year what's going to happen so it's going to be very interesting.”

Kush Maini, Mahindra Racing, Frederic Bertrand, CEO and Team Principal Mahindra Racing

Photo by: Mahindra Racing

Kush Maini, Mahindra Racing, Frederic Bertrand, CEO and Team Principal Mahindra Racing

 

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