Oliver Rowland has not given up hope of the 2019/20 Formula E season being completed but, in the meantime, he is aiming to compete against some of motorsport’s biggest stars in virtual racing.

The Penistone man is currently staying in his flat in London while the global electric car series is paused due to the coronavirus crisis. Rowland told the Chronicle: “I am not doing much. I am trying to get out for a bit of exercise every day and to stay safe. I am playing a lot of PlayStation and watching TV series.  I am doing running and some gymwork inside. It’s actually been quite nice not to be living out of a suitcase, but I would rather be racing.”

Rowland is waiting for the delivery of a simulator which will allow him to compete in the virtual races which have featured some of the top names in Formula One and been shown live on television.  “It would allow me to practise driving but also to compete online against a lot of the other professional drivers.  Nearly all the F1 drivers have been involved in it and it has been broadcast on Sky Sports. I am hoping to get involved in that and then we’ll see how I get on.  There are loads of other events that all my friends are competing in. It’s good exposure. It’s not ideal, we would rather be out racing but there’s nothing we can do about it. It’s important just to keep everybody safe and that everybody stays inside so we can get over this as quickly as possible.” 

Like all sports, Formula E’s season has been severely impacted by the coronavirus and subsequent lockdowns around the world. The races in China, Rome, Paris, Seoul and Jakarta have been cancelled. The next event is currently scheduled to be in Berlin on June 21 then a race in New York in July followed later that month by a double-header in London.   Rowland – who is currently ninth after picking up 30 points from five races so far – has not given up hope of racing again this season. 

“It just depends on how quickly we get over the coronavirus. I think they would like to finish the season and there is a bit of time to catch up.  At some point, we need to move on to next season but I don’t think that point has come quite yet.  Where we were supposed to race in London, at the Excel, that is now a big hospital, and so is the place we were supposed to race in New York (the Red Hook area of Brooklyn). 

In Text Promo Image

“Those places, and the other big cities, might be the last places to free up and function properly. I know they have discussed races on normal race circuits.  It’s just a case of waiting and seeing how things unfold.”

Rowland, who turns 28 in August, said at the start of this season that he was coming into his peak years and was hoping to compete for the Formula E title. He said: "It is very frustrating not to be out there racing, but I just have to deal with it. I believe I have a few years at this level so I am not particularly worried.  “Also, we had made quite a few changes to the car from last season and it was hard to get used to that during the season. So a break actually helps us as a team to look at everything and make sure it is all working properly. 

“Once we get back going, we will be better.  There are some teams who look a little bit stronger than us but, hopefully after this break, we can come back and raise up to their level. “If we do get going again for this season then hopefully I will be fighting for race wins and maybe the championship.”

Rowland is keeping in contact with his friends and family in Barnsley during the lockdown.  He said: “I spend a lot of time away so it is hard for me to see family anyway.  “We have FaceTime which makes it a lot easier.”

Motorsport teams could take a financial hit during this crisis. Rowland, who has not been asked to take a paycut by his team Nissan E.dams, said: “Everybody all around the world will struggle, it’s just a case of riding the wave and then coming out the other side.  It’s a very strange situation that no one has been in before.”