Felix Rosenqvist dropped out of contention for a possible top five finish in the Buenos Aires ePrix as the Formula E season resumed in Argentina on Saturday, the Swede suffering an unfortunate pit stop delay but snatching the bonus point on offer for setting the fastest lap of the race.
Having scored a maiden pole position and podium last time out in Marrakesh last November, Rosenqvist carried his promising early-season form into his first-ever race on South American soil, instantly appearing at ease with his Mahindra Racing M3Electro around the streets of the Argentine capital.
Despite a lack of previous experience of the Puerto Madero circuit – the only venue to have featured in all Formula E seasons to date – Rosenqvist went second quickest in practice, 0.165s shy of 2016 Buenos Aires winner Sam Bird (GBR) to boost hopes of a strong qualifying performance.
In the grid-deciding session, however, Rosenqvist did not quite settle into the same rhythm, experiencing a rather messy flying lap to end up eighth on the grid for the ePrix itself.
A strong getaway saw him slot into seventh as the race settled in before the mandatory pit stops, while efficient energy saving enabled the Swedish rookie to go a lap longer than his frontrunning rivals to set up a potentially advantageous shorter and more aggressive second stint.
Once in the pits, however, Rosenqvist was delayed by roughly a minute due to a BMS (Battery Management System) issue that caused his second car to momentarily malfunction.
From there, it was a repeat of the Hong Kong ePrix back in October for Rosenqvist, who changed his focus to try and claim the extra point on offer for setting the fastest lap.
He succeeded in doing so a few laps from home, throwing in a 1m09.467s effort – establishing a new Puerto Madero lap record in the process.
“This race ended in a little bit of frustration for us, but overall I’ll actually take a lot of positives away from here,” says Felix Rosenqvist. “It went really well in the first stint on a very long strategy, where we aimed at conserving our energy but still maintained strong pace lap time-wise. Unfortunately we had a BMS error in the pit stop that meant the second car wouldn’t start, and the only thing we could do from then on was push for the fastest lap, which eventually we got. It’s one point to take away, but still very frustrating given the pace we had around here in basically all the sessions. We have to learn it the hard way, but I want to get back on the podium and there should be every possibility to do that sooner rather than later.”
Rosenqvist was classified 18th in the race, which was won by Sébastien Buemi (SUI). Rosenqvist now sits fifth in the overall championship standings, just two points adrift of fourth-placed Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA).
The next round of the FIA Formula E Championship is the Mexico City ePrix, scheduled in for April 1.
RESULTS (top ten)
Buenos Aires ePrix
Buenos Aires, Argentina
1: Sébastien Buemi (SUI), 37 laps
2: Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA), +2.996s
3: Lucas di Grassi (BRA), +6.921s
4: Nicolas Prost (FRA), +8.065s
5: Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA), +9.770s
6: Loïc Duval (FRA), +35.103s
7: Daniel Abt (GER), +35.801s
8: Jérôme d’Ambrosio (BEL), +36.335s
9: Oliver Turvey (GBR), +37.111s
10: José María López (ARG), +38.206s
18: Felix Rosenqvist (SWE), +3 laps (fastest lap)
CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (top five)
FIA Formula E Championship
After 3/12 races
1: Sébastien Buemi (SUI), 75 p.
2: Lucas di Grassi (BRA), 46 p.
3: Nicolas Prost (FRA), 36 p.
4: Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA), 22 p.
5: Felix Rosenqvist (SWE), 20 p.