For the first time in history, the city that never sleeps will be hosting an international motor racing event this weekend as the FIA Formula E Championship prepares to electrify New York. The innovative all-electric single-seater series continues to break exciting new ground with arguably the most spectacular location so far; and Felix Rosenqvist carries race-winning form into the iconic Big Apple.
After decades of trying, one of the motorsport community’s collective dreams is finally about to become reality: a race in New York City. Staging this weekend’s historic occasion is a 1.947 km track laid out in Red Hook, Brooklyn, where the Formula E field will undertake the penultimate round of the season against the striking backdrop of Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.
Felix Rosenqvist descends on New York accompanied by inescapable jetlag, as he continues an around-the-globe journey just days on from scoring a maiden Super Formula podium in Japan. Now reuniting with his Mahindra Racing Formula E squad on the American east coast, the Swede is determined to ride the waves of an emotional career-first series win at the Berlin ePrix five weeks ago.
“I can’t wait to go racing in New York City,” says Felix Rosenqvist. “It’s truly fantastic that Formula E has made this event happen, and I’m looking forward to racing at such a significant place in the Mahindra M3Electro. It’s a really important race for the team and we’re confident we can continue our recent streak of strong results – even though the track in Brooklyn is very different to the one in Berlin. It appears to be much tighter, and I think it will provoke quite a lot of mistakes. The key will be to make less of them than our competition!”
Rosenqvist finished both of last month’s races in Berlin in first place, but was demoted to second in the final encounter following an unfortunate penalty for a pit stop misunderstanding. Now up to third in the overall classification in an eye-catching rookie season which has also included two pole positions and two fastest race laps, Rosenqvist sits 71 points adrift of reigning Formula E champion and current leader Sébastien Buemi (SUI), and 39 behind second-placed Lucas di Grassi (BRA).
With Buemi forced to sit out this weekend’s USA round due to clashing commitments in the FIA World Endurance Championship at Nürburgring, the stage is set for a dramatic conclusion to the 2016-17 campaign as it enters its decisive stages – with only the season-ending Montreal ePrix in Canada to go post-New York.
Meanwhile, Rosenqvist (with 86 points to his tally) is currently chased by Nicolas Prost (FRA, 72 p.) and Nick Heidfeld (GER, 63 p.) in the battle for third, with a maximum 58 points on offer in New York and the same amount up for grabs in Montreal in a fortnight.
“It’s a critical moment in the championship and there is a small chance to even improve our position, but we have to remain realistic and fight the right battle,” Rosenqvist argues. “I am very, very happy with third place being a rookie in this most complex of championships, and my primary aim will be to defend that. The gap is not exactly huge to the guys behind, so I’m sure it will be a close one. I’ll take one race at a time, but this is a good moment to be clever.”
Adding to the technical challenge at the New York City ePrix will be the duration of the two races, with a six-lap difference between Saturday’s 43-lap “sprint” and Sunday’s 49-lap combat potentially mixing things up mid-weekend.
“We will be able to use a lot more energy on Saturday than on Sunday,” Rosenqvist concludes. “In a championship like Formula E where efficiency and battery management is key, six laps make a significant difference. I think it just adds to the dynamic of the weekend and we proved in Berlin that we’ve got as good management as anybody, so it will be an exciting aspect for us drivers and especially for the engineers.”
Saturday’s race at the Red Hook harbourfront track takes place at 16.00 local time, while the lights will go out three hours earlier on Sunday.
For all the latest news, reports, quotes and pictures, please check out Felix Rosenqvist’s official Facebook page throughout the weekend.
FIA Formula E Championship
New York City ePrix, USA
All times local (GMT-04:00)
Friday 14 July
Saturday 15 July
Free Practice 1: 08.00-08.45
Free Practice 2: 10.30-11.00
New York City ePrix – Race 1: 16.00
Sunday 16 July
Free Practice: 07.00-07.45
New York City ePrix – Race 2: 13.00
CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (top five)
FIA Formula E Championship
After 8/12 races
1: Sébastien Buemi (SUI), 157 p.
2: Lucas di Grassi (BRA), 125 p.
3: Felix Rosenqvist (SWE), 86 p.
4: Nicolas Prost (FRA), 72 p.
5: Nick Heidfeld (GER), 63 p.