Mahindra Racing collected a second consecutive podium and scored its first ever pole position for the inaugural Marrakesh ePrix, the second round of the 2016-17 FIA Formula E Championship.
Swede Felix Rosenqvist, in just his second Formula E race, finished third during the series’ visit to Africa after leading the race from pole for an impressive 27 laps. The 2.971km semi-permanent street circuit, the longest in Formula E history, put pressure on energy management for the entire field.
Rosenqvist’s pole lap was the first ever (in Formula E) for Mahindra Racing and further underlines the team’s all new season three powertrain development for the M3Electro. The 25-year-old lies fourth in the Drivers’ Championship on 19 points (coincidently, the same as his race number).
In the number 23 cars, the team’s German driver Nick Heidfeld, who claimed a podium in the season opener in Hong Kong, qualified in 11th position. Some early jostling from the race start hampered his advancement through the field but he ultimately recovered to ninth place.
The combined drivers’ results have elevated Mahindra Racing to joint second in the Teams’ Championship. One of the final ‘firsts’ for the team, a race win, will have to wait until 2017 when the FIA Formula E Championship continues with the Buenos Aires ePrix on February 18.
Felix Rosenqvist said, “Looking back at how the day went in Marrakesh, taking pole position was something really unexpected. We knew we had really good pace and the guys have been putting a good package together for qualifying especially. However, I’m still a bit shocked that we were able to get pole in just my second weekend in Formula E. Starting the race from pole, if you had told me before the race that I would finish third, I would have signed up for it immediately!
There was great communication with Andres [Castillo – race engineer] on the radio; the team was there all the time supporting me and I think we nailed the race as well as we could have done. The first stint was fantastic, and in the second stint there were a combination of small things that meant we weren’t quite as competitive. That was maybe the sad part, but in the end we have to be proud. Nick took a podium in Hong Kong and we now we have the pole, podium and fastest lap in our bag. Going back to street circuits next year I am feeling confident.”
Nick Heidfeld said, “It was a very difficult race for me, especially in the first stint. There was quite a bit of contact from the start that cost me time and maybe caused some damage, I am not quite sure but the balance of the first car was quite poor. One of the drivers apologised to me after which I really appreciate. I completed a reasonably long second stint compared to the others and while that made it very difficult to gain many positions, the pace including regen was still competitive. I was able to get some points here in Marrakesh but what is really promising is that Mahindra Racing has achieved two podiums in two races. With Felix’s first pole position we are joint second in the championship which is obviously fantastic, but we always want to be even better.”
Dilbagh Gill, Team Principal, Mahindra Racing Formula E Team said, “It has been a great day for Mahindra Racing and it’s very satisfying to be able to check off another first for the team. Felix’s pole lap was really impressive at only his second event and also really shows how much work we have put into the new M3Electro. For Nick, it was unlucky that he was caught up in the initial mêlée but he still put in a strong drive to collect points for the team. This is the strongest start we have had in Formula E and we can’t wait to go to Argentina.”