The 2024 Formula E season got underway last weekend in Mexico City. While Mahindra Racing finished point-less in the first race of the Formula E season, the Indian manufacturer was at the centre of a PR campaign gone awry last week.
On January 9, the team announced that it has launched an AI-generated influencer named Ava, who will be depicting the team's journey through the 2024 season. They said it was designed to “showcase the team's journey in the FIA Formula E World Championship, and towards a more sustainable future for our planet”.
However, as soon as the team posted about the AI-generated individual on its official social media platforms, hundreds of motorsport fans flocked and criticized the team for it. The primary criticism was on why the ‘position’ had been filled by an AI rather than a human.
After observing the repercussions from the motorsport community, Mahindra Racing removed all the posts related to Ava in just 24 hours of its introduction from their social media platforms.
Additionally, the CEO and team principal of Mahindra Racing, Frederic Bertrand publicly acknowledged the issues and declared that their AI project has been discontinued.
Clarifying on the issue, Mahindra Racing team boss Frederic Bertrand tweeted, “For us, it was just to add one tool to our toolbox for communication and to have one additional possibility for people to ask questions and get answers. A bit like when you rent a car and then you have an AI talk to you.”
Not only in the AI influencer programme, Mahindra Racing failed to fair well in the Mexican Grand Prix either.
Mahindra Racing fielded an all-new driver line-up this season, with Edoardo Mortara joining former Formula E champion and F1 driver Nyck de Vries. Both drivers finished outside the points table in Mexico – Mortara finished at 13 and de Vries at 15.
It is pertinent to mention here that Hyderabad was slated to host the fourth round, but the race has been cancelled, with Formula E looking at pursuing action against the Government of Telangana for a “breach of contract”.