A diversion after F1: a Spanish motorsport nomad has found new home

Fernando Alonso, Carlos Sainz and Roberto Merhi. The three of them formed Spain's base in Formula 1. The first two are still active - at a very high level - in F1, while Merhi disappeared for a lot of people from public view after one season with the now defunct Manor. From this weekend, the 32-year-old returns to the spotlight, when he joins Formula E team Mahindra for the Jakarta ePrix. If there was an award in motorsport for competing in the most diverse racing classes, Merhi would undoubtedly qualify for a podium spot. Besides the well-known series such as Formula 1, Formula 2, the World Endurance Championship (WEC), he also competed in the Tasman Series, GT World Challenge Australia (both Australia), Super GT and Super Formula Lights (both Japan) in the last decade, for example. Last season, he even returned to Formula 2, where normally up-and-coming talents find their place. So in Jakarta this weekend, Merhi adds another class to his already long list. The Spaniard himself has to laugh, when it is thrown at him with a big wink that he has really been behind the wheel everywhere: "Yes, that's true," he laughed during an exclusive interview with GPblog. "I was missing Formula E. I probably didn't have a chance to do IndyCar. It's probably the two series I was missing. Now I am going to do Formula E. Let's see if in the future I can do IndyCar also." Merhi needs some getting used to Recently, Merhi participated in the Formula E rookie test in Berlin. The collaboration between the Spaniard and Mahindra apparently went so well that the Indian team secured Merhi as Oliver Rowland's replacement. "It's a super nice series. Obviously, I know all the drivers racing in the series. I raced with them in previous categories, F3, DTM, Le Mans, and Formula Renault. I raced against many of them, I will say every one of them. And yeah, it's a nice series. It's a Formula car that I always love Formula cars. It's electric, it's pretty different from what I am used to. The braking is different. But yeah, it's a nice series, and I like to be here," said Merhi, who will have to get used to his new surroundings in the coming days. "Of course, it's going to be difficult. But in the past, when I was younger, I was pretty good at adapting to the new series. Obviously, as I am getting older, I struggle more. When I was younger, I was immediately jumping from Formula Renault to Formula 3. And I was quick in the first time. And obviously, now, I don't drive as much as I used to drive. I just do eight races per year with the Super GT. We don't do much testing. And then, obviously, every time you struggle more to adapt to new series." Looking for a permanent spot? Merhi has started from scratch several times in his now long career. It is precisely by racing in a certain class for a long time that solidity is created. Many drivers therefore choose to be active in a particular class for several seasons - if possible. "I mean, as a professional driver, maybe yes," Merhi responded when asked if that might have been better for him. "As an experience in life, I think no. As a driver, you want to discover everything. You want to fight against all the drivers in the world. I think that's what makes this sense of being a driver. Obviously, I am happy on one side and am sad on the other side. But I have been in many series. And I more or less know what kind of car I like." Spain is a motorsport country While Merhi is hunting for points in Indonesia - which he calls his goal for this weekend - on the other side of the world, two Spaniards are driving their home Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz were also on the grid when Merhi was running for Manor. "It's nice to see that now the people are following a lot Formula 1, that they are supporting the sport now, with Fernando being able to fight for podiums. I mean, you can see in Spain, everybody, the population has increased a lot watching Formula 1.""And also, Carlos being in Ferrari last year, being able to be on the podium. But I think it's nice, you know, it shows that we have good drivers in Spain that maybe in the past the people were not so serious. And now we can show, that in Spain we have good drivers, and especially with Fernando and Carlos, we can be proud of what they have achieved so far. One is driving a Ferrari, the other one is driving an Aston Martin, twice World Champions, and with 41 years old, so he is still performing at a very strong level. It's only, probably Max is the one that is maybe very outstanding, I would say. He is very, very on it. He is very young, and determined. And yeah, I mean, let's see if they can fight with him, it will be nice."This interview is a co-production with Rubén Gómez of GPblog Spain

June 2, 2023 from GPBlog