All-rounder Rowland keeping Nissan in Formula E title chase

Oliver Rowland says he’s enjoying playing an underdog role in this year’s Formula E championship, as he challenges the Jaguar and Porsche runners for the title.

Rowland’s Nissan package is seen as being inferior to the pace-setting Jaguars and Porsches — Porsche won the championship with customer team Andretti last year as Jaguar won the most races with its factory team and customer outfit Envision Racing. This year is a similar story, Porsche and Jaguar heading the new-for-2024 manufacturers’ trophy, but in the drivers’ standings, Rowland is in the thick of the fight, and was even leading the points until he lost a certain race win last Sunday at Misano with less than a lap to go.

“I don’t think I ever expected to be in the position that I’m in at the moment,” Rowland told select media that included RACER. “But it’s been a welcome surprise, let’s say, and something that I’m actually relishing and enjoying.


“I guess that I’m enjoying the kind of underdog fight. I think nobody really expected anybody other than the probably the Porsches (and) the Jaguars to be able to challenge for the championship this year or race wins, so for us to be kind of in the mix and consistently performing is very positive.”

Rowland, like championship leader Pascal Wehrlein, has two poles to his name this year, while Jake Hughes’ top qualifying performance on Sunday for Nissan customer McLaren means that the Japanese manufacturer’s powertrain has the most poles so far. But in races, the Porsche has been the class of the field thanks to its superior efficiency, which has enabled it to overhaul poor qualifying performances and score two wins for Wehrlein, another for Andretti’s Jake Dennis, and a fourth for Antonio Felix da Costa that was later rescinded and handed to Rowland.

But while Rowland acknowledges there are stronger drivetrains in the field, he says the Nissan’s all-round performance, keeping it there or thereabouts, is keeping him in the title fight.

“It seems that Porsche, in particular, always has a very strong race package that can kind of qualify a little bit up and down the grid, but still be able to come through,” he said. “But I think what kind of stands to our advantage a little bit at the moment is that we’re kind of good at both — we can qualify towards the front and we can race towards the front. I think it’s a tricky one to say, will we be there in London (for the season finale) — I think the best way to be there in London is just focusing on race by race.”

Elaborating on his chances to still be in the hunt for the championship by the time Formula E heads to the English capital in July, Rowland says there are two races he expects Nissan to fare well at, but two it might struggle at.

“If I look at the calendar, I think last year Nissan were very strong in Monaco in qualifying, and in Portland in qualifying, both Nissan and McLaren were… that was probably one of the best races of the year,” he said. “So I kind of think there’s a little bit of expectation to be competitive there and to be able to race at the front.

“I mean, Portland is going to be a bit of a Misano in terms of the race, but I think after the weekend, we’d have to say that we should be quite OK in those situations. Berlin was a big struggle for the team last year, and obviously, Shanghai is a new track.

“So I think looking at the remaining races, we’ve kind of got two that we don’t really know if we’re going to be that great at, and then two that we should be able to score strong points, in theory. By the time we get to London, unless somebody runs away with that, I think we still should be in with a shout if, if everything goes to plan.”

Story originally appeared on Racer