Felix Rosenqvist has taken his – and the Mahindra team’s – first victory in the FIA Formula E Championship at the Berlin ePrix.
Taking a comfortable win, the Swede led home pole-sitter Lucas di Grassi, while Rosenqvist’s team mate Nick Heidfeld completed a double-podium result for the Mahindra team.
Di Grassi’s championship challenger also gained an added boost post-race, with the shock exclusion of championship leader Sébastien Buemi. Having recovered from a poor qualifying to move from fourteenth to be classified fifth in the race, both of Buemi’s cars were found to have run below the minimum permitted tyre pressure of 1.60 bar. The exclusion reduces what was a 32-point championship lead for Buemi over di Grassi to 22 points.
Renault e.Dams team owner Alain Prost explained the issue was simply an error by the team.
“It was a mistake from our side that cost us greatly. It is our duty to do better in tomorrow’s ePrix for the team and obviously to keep Sébastien in the championship battle,” he explained.
From the race start di Grassi led away, while a poor start by José María López saw both Rosenqvist and Heidfeld move by on the run to Turn 1.
Initially di Grassi began to build a lead, but after extending the gap to just over two seconds the Brazilian began to struggle with battery temperature issues. The need to manage this problem to the car swap required di Grassi to lift and coast into corners, allowing Rosenqvist to catch the ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport car.
With their pit stops approaching, Rosenqvist made a move on di Grassi through Turn 1 to take the lead of the race and despite a minor error through the Turn 9 hairpin held the advantage to remain in front through the stop cycle at the end of the lap.
Following the stops, di Grassi briefly applied pressure to Rosenqvist, but the Mahindra driver was able to gradually build a comfortable gap to second place and maintained it to the end of the race to claim the win.
Speaking post-race, an overjoyed Rosenqvist felt the win was a confirmation of the pace shown by Mahindra throughout the day.
“It feels incredible. From the start of the day the car felt good, quick and consistent,” he reflected.
“I made a small error in Super Pole qualifying, otherwise we could have been on pole. We came here much more prepared [than when I was on pole in Marrakesh] and it’s a great compliment to the team. We have some fantastic people – I was waiting for this and finally it came.”
As the second stint of the race progressed, di Grassi began to once again encounter battery temperature issues, the management of which brought Heidfeld into contention for second place.
Unlike his teammate however, Heidfeld could not attempt a move on di Grassi and the order remained unchanged to complete the podium.
Di Grassi’s view after the race was that the result was positive given the car challenges he encountered.
“Our car was not very good, we started the morning completely lost and then tried to make small set-up changes and I luckily did a very, very good lap in qualifying,” he said.
“If you look at the pure pace from the morning – this was not the best race for us, so I tried to hang on as much as I could. At the end of the first stint I started to lose the regen because of the battery temperature being too high and the same in the second stint too.”
Behind the top three, López finished the race in fourth, while fifth on the road was Jean-Éric Vergne, however a five-second penalty added to his race time for an unsafe pit released dropped the Techeetah driver to eighth after Buemi’s exclusion was applied.
Ultimately it was Buemi’s teammate Nicolas Prost who claimed fifth place, ahead of Daniel Abt and Sam Bird, who had lost positions through the pit stop process. The Venturi of Mario Engel and Oliver Turvey’s NextEV NIO rounded out the top ten.
|2017 Formula E Berlin ePrix – Race 1 Final Classification (44 laps)|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result||Pts|
|1.||Felix Rosenqvist||Mahindra Racing Formula E Team||44||53:19.661||25|
|2.||Lucas di Grassi||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||44||+ 2.232||21*|
|3.||Nick Heidfeld||Mahindra Racing Formula E Team||44||+ 4.058||15|
|4.||José María López||DS Virgin Racing Formula E Team||44||+ 13.638||12|
|5.||Nicolas Prost||Renault e.DAMS||44||+ 19.068||10|
|6.||Daniel Abt||ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||44||+ 19.799||8|
|7.||Sam Bird||DS Virgin Racing Formula E Team||44||+ 20.065||6|
|8.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Techeetah||44||+ 20.689||4|
|9.||Maro Engel||Venturi Formula E Team||44||+ 39.030||2|
|10.||Oliver Turvey||NextEV NIO||44||+ 40.985||1|
|11.||Stéphane Sarrazin||Techeetah||44||+ 42.682|
|12.||Nelson Piquet Jr||NextEV NIO||44||+ 42.980|
|13.||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Faraday Future Dragon Racing||44||+ 45.712|
|14.||Adam Carroll||Panasonic Jaguar Racing||44||+ 49.658|
|15.||Loic Duval||Faraday Future Dragon Racing||44||+ 59.010|
|16.||António Félix da Costa||MS Amlin Andretti||44||+ 1:00.269|
|17.||Robin Frijns||MS Amlin Andretti||44||+ 1:02.463|
|18.||Tom Dillman||Venturi Formula E Team||44||+ 1:07.695|
|Not Classified||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|DNF.||Mitch Evans||Panasonic Jaguar Racing||16||Retirement||1^|
|DQ.||Sébastien Buemi||Renault e.DAMS||Tyres|
* For claiming pole position (3 pts)
^ For posting the fastest lap of the race (1pt)
- Sébastien Buemi was disqualified when both his cars were found to have raced with tyres below the minimum pressures stipulated by Michelin.
- Jean-Éric Vergne – who was provisionally classified in sixth – was issued a five-second post-race time penalty for an unsafe pit release.
Images via FIA Formula E Championship