Posted by Fenil Seta
The electric car will be used in the next Formula E season
Natasha Coutinho (MUMBAI MIRROR; May 16, 2017)
Actress, pilot and auto enthusiast Gul Panag has now become the first Indian woman to drive a Formula E racing car. She drove Mahindra Racing’s M4Electro at the Circuit de Calafat in Catalonia, Spain, on April 26. Recalling the experience, Gul who’s just returned to the country, told Mirror, “I spent two days in Barcelona at the Mahindra development facility, the first in a simulator. A simulator to the layperson looks like a video game on a big screen but it’s actually a must-have for professionals. As a pilot, I can’t fly a plane every day and if I don’t fly for 20 days I could get rusty. So, I fly the simulator in my office every Sunday. This simulator helped me understand the car I’d be driving. Swedish racing driver Felix Rosenqvist walked me through it.”
The next day she was at the Calafat track on the outskirts of Barcelona testing a car which went from 0-100 kms in three seconds. “It’s a privilege to feel that power. The Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) allows cars to be tested only 15 days in a year. All others tests are on the simulator. I was lucky to be on the track on one of these 15 days,” she exulted.
The actress has been driving an electric car for two years now and believes the racing track will go fully electric by 2030. The formula E race brings the motorsport and the future together and currently in its third season, it’s the latest addition to the FIA calendar. “The car that I drove is next season’s race car. I’ve been following Formula E since its inception and every development on the track will soon find its way into street electric cars. Getting my hands on this car was a dream come true,” she admitted.
Despite being a beauty pageant winner, Gul has never restricted her interests to things traditionally girly. Growing up, she wondered why boys read auto magazines and girls just fashion magazines. Curious, she borrowed one from a classmate when she was around 16 and was instantly hooked. “That doesn’t mean I don’t read fashion magazines. I was just subconsciously rebelling against social conditioning,” she maintains.