Yorkshire driver Rowland has found the right formula for success

Oliver Rowland during the Marrakesh E-prix.  (Photo by Joe Portlock/Motorsport Images via Getty Images)
Oliver Rowland during the Marrakesh E-prix. (Photo by Joe Portlock/Motorsport Images via Getty Images)
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For many, Formula 1 is seen as the pinnacle of motorsport.

With its superstar drivers, glamorous race destinations and state-of-the-art colourful cars, it’s easy to see why so many people are attracted to the sport.

Oliver Rowland.  (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images for Shell)

Oliver Rowland. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images for Shell)

The 2019 season begins in just over a fortnight’s time but the sport has been derided, particular in recent years, for its predictability, lack of competitiveness and constant rule tinkering.

If it’s real excitement on four wheels that you crave, then Formula E may be the perfect tonic.

For the uninitiated, the format uses electric-powered cars only.

The championship consists of 11 teams with two drivers each and it visits 12 cities over a seven-month race calendar.

Oliver Rowland, from Penistone, has experience of competing in both classes of racing and he believes electric-powered racing has the potential to be just as popular – if not more – than its F1 counterpart.

Rowland is now competing in Formula E for Nissan e.Dams. He arrived on the back of a year spent at Williams in F1 as their junior driver but says he made the right decision to switch formats.

“It’s not a necessity to be in Formula 1 any more,” Rowland told The Yorkshire Post whilst en route to Nissan’s testing HQ in France.

“The way I see it, if you’re not in one of the best cars then you’re almost consigned to finishing between eighth and 15th.

“You want to be able to compete for wins – that’s what is so good about Formula E.

“From my side, I don’t have any intentions of aiming for Formula 1 anymore – it’s not on my radar whatsoever.

“Obviously, if the chance ever came up then you would have to consider it.

“But at the moment I’m really enjoying Formula E and am enjoying my racing more than ever.

“Nobody really wants to be a test driver and just do simulators and a couple of tests a year.

“It was never what I wanted to do when I was younger.

“If you look at Formula E, it’s growing massively and quickly.

“There’s a lot of the big manufacturers involved.

“I think there’s a real big platform for it.”

Rowland has had mixed fortunes in his first four races as he quickly gets up to speed with his new discipline.

He finished seventh in Saudi Arabia in the opening round just before Christmas and followed that up with two below-par showings in rounds two and three.

His last and most recent outing, in Mexico City, was most frustrating of all for the 26-year-old, as he explains.

“I qualified pole in Mexico and was second for the entire race,” he said.

“Then I lost my way in the final lap and ended up right at the back.

“Everything has been there but it’s just been a case of putting it all together.

“I think I understand a lot more now so I’m in pretty good shape.”

Rowland admits he has been playing catch-up after signing a long-term deal with Nissan only on the eve of the season.

But he feels as though he is slowly working his way around his new surroundings.

“In terms of the basic driving, then it is quite similar to a normal car,” he adds. “It becomes quite complicated when you race and have to use energy management and also not use as much while still going fast.

“It’s all about finding the right balance but I think we’re getting there.”

The next Formula E round is in Hong Kong on March 10 – seven days before the F1 season gets under way in Australia.

Rowland admits he still keeps a close eye on the F1 landscape and he has even more reason to do so following the arrival of two young British drivers on the 2019 paddock.

Lando Norris, who at 19 is the youngest-ever British F1 driver, was snapped up by McLaren whilst George Russell, 21, has joined Rowland’s former employers Williams.

Norris stole the headlines earlier this month when he set the fastest time on the first day of the final pre-season test in Barcelona.

Rowland, who mentored Norris during his younger days, hopes that both young drivers can impress in the upcoming campaign.

He added: “I know Lando pretty well and I did a lot of coaching with him.

“I’ve also known George since his karting days so I’m friends with both of them.

“They both deserve their chance.

“They’ve been given a big opportunity and hopefully they can go on to do big things.”