'I Went For It': Felix Rosenqvist After Marrakesh ePrix Win
Formula E series now moves to Chile for the Santiago ePrix in the 2017/18 season on February 3.
Felix Rosenqvist made history for Mahindra Racing once again that claimed its first back-to-back win in the ABB Formula E Championship at Marrakesh. This was the Swede’s third victory with the Indian outfit, his second in the current 2017/18 season.
The win not only moved Rosenqvist to the top of the drivers’ championship, but also increased the gap for Mahindra in the constructors’ table over DS Virgin Racing. Rosenqvist has 54 points to DS Virgin’s Sam Bird’s 50, while Mahindra in the championship lead has a total of 75 points to DS Virgin’s 58.
The rise of Mahindra in the all-electric series has been monumental since the first season in 2014/15 where it finished eighth in the standings. The weekend in Marrakesh for both Rosenqvist and Nick Heidfeld started on a difficult note with them finishing outside the Top 5 in both the practice sessions.
For Heidfeld, qualifying became a nightmare when he crashed on his fast lap, thereby having to start in 18th. At the same time, Rosenqvist made it to the Super Pole. However, a mistake on his quick lap meant he could only manage third with Renault e.dams’ Sebastien Buemi on pole from Bird.
After the practice and qualifying debacles, the 33-lap race on the streets of Marrakesh on Saturday afternoon turned out to be bonanza for Mahindra. Rosenqvist had a solid start and kept himself in the reckoning behind Buemi and Bird.
A slow run from Bird on Lap 15 allow Rosenqvist to get second before the mandatory pit-stop. The Swede then had to wait until Lap 28 to pick up Buemi, who later on said that he had to save fuel and his FanBoost didn’t work for him. The damage was done though as Rosenqvist held on to win the ePrix.
“I was saving my energy behind Sam and Seb,” said Rosenqvist after the race win. “I saw that they were wasting a bit on their energy because they were attacking and defending each other. That’s where I think, I made my advantage.
“I stayed a bit low in the back and then in the second stint I saw a gap [when overtaking Buemi] and I went for it. The car was just unreal. After having one of the most difficult practices of my Formula E career to almost driving to pole and then having a battery change just half an hour before the race.
“The guys put it together [well]. I jumped in and the car was [just] perfect. It’s just unreal, what a race [it has been]. [And now] leading the championship is fantastic, it’s only three races into the year, but yeah what a fantastic thing.”
The 26-year-old admitted that he didn’t think of the win after the start he had to the day. But he feels relieved to have gone through this phase as he becomes much more confident as a Formula E racer. “I [have] started feeling more confident, and slowly being a more established Formula E driver.
“I’m learning how to manage a race. Being a race about energy, I was able to keep my calm, be efficient, my engineer told me what to look out for, and I was able to get there in the end. It’s great how we turned it around, ended up on the top step. We’re celebrating it, because I honestly didn’t expect it in Free Practice 1,” the Swede explained.
Meanwhile, teammate Heidfeld himself had a fruitful race, coming back from 18th position to finish seventh and inside the Top 10 despite having a spin in a tangle with Venturi’s Maro Engel. The German had finished eighth, but was promoted to seventh after Engel’s penalty.
“It was an eventful race, and was tough driving out there,” said Heidfeld. “My car was quite damaged, due to my qualifying crash. I was able to overtake some cars on the start lap, and later on in the race though I was overtaken, I managed to get my positions back again.
“I crossed the line eighth, but gained a position due to Maro Engel’s penalty that he received for crashing into me. The aim was to finish strongly and keep the car in one piece while not doing anything risky,” he added, as he sits seventh in the drivers’ standing with 21 points.
Team boss Dilbagh Gill was naturally elated with the results as well, singing the Indian National anthem proudly on the podium. “I’m happy that our unfinished business from that last season in Marrakesh is now done, we can now close this chapter and move forward.
“It’s extremely exciting to be on new territory for us, leading both championships! It’s only going to keep motivating the team more and more, and it’s something we need to maintain and be consistent with till the end of the year,” he said.
After the completion of the two rounds and three races, the Formula E series now moves to Chile for the Santiago ePrix in the 2017/18 season on February 3.