Felix Rosenqvist bagged his first FIA Formula E Championship podium in only his second start in the all-electric series, converting an eye-catching pole position into third place in Saturday’s Marrakesh ePrix in Morocco.
Rosenqvist – who turned 25 at the start of the week – promptly proved that his fastest lap from the opening round in Hong Kong was no fluke as the field regrouped at Marrakesh’s Circuit Moulay El Hassan this weekend, going second fastest in free practice.
The Swede then went one better in qualifying, shocking the establishment as he lit up the timing screens on the way to his, and the Mahindra Racing squad’s, maiden Formula E pole position.
Leading the way off the line, Rosenqvist duly controlled the early stages of the race, opening up a five-second lead before the compulsory pit stops. He re-joined with a similar advantage, but slightly excessive energy consumption necessitated a slower pace in the final third of the event, allowing reigning champion Sébastien Buemi (Switzerland) and Britain’s Sam Bird to nip ahead.
Third place at the flag still marked a very strong result for newcomer Rosenqvist, who now leaps into fourth in the overall drivers’ standings.
“I’m really excited to be racing at this level so early on in Formula E,” says Felix Rosenqvist. “I certainly didn’t expect to be on pole position here, and I think that effort really proves how hard we’ve been working over the last few months to really prepare ourselves for this season. It’s quite an honour to give the team their first-ever pole. I made a good start in the race, and – even though we were in with a chance of winning – I’m thrilled with this podium. It really gives us a solid platform on which to build over the rest of the season.”
Rosenqvist believes the outcome of October’s Hong Kong ePrix, in which he slid into the wall and subsequently shifted his attention towards setting the fastest lap of the race (a feat he eventually achieved), left him slightly on the back foot strategically heading into Marrakesh.
“I couldn’t complete a traditional-style race in Hong Kong, so I went here not really knowing too much about energy conservation in race mode,” Rosenqvist concludes. “I learned an awful lot about it today. Formula E races are very specific and require a lot of tactics, so I will continue to fine-tune that. In the end Buemi and Bird had another strategy and were able to get ahead, so we need to sit down and analyse what we could potentially have done better. That said, I’m obviously elated with how things went today, and I want to thank everyone at Mahindra Racing for a top job.”
Felix Rosenqvist now has just one final race remaining before his ultra-hectic 2016 campaign finally concludes: next week’s Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix (China), an event Rosenqvist bids to win for a record-breaking third consecutive time.
The Formula E season will resume in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on February 18, 2017.
RESULTS (top five)
FIA Formula E Championship
Rd. 2 | Marrakesh
1: Sébastien Buemi (SUI), 33 laps
2: Sam Bird (GBR), +2.457s
3: Felix Rosenqvist (SWE), +7.195s
4: Nicolas Prost (FRA), +11.586s
5: Lucas di Grassi (BRA), +13.771s
CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (top five)
FIA Formula E Championship
After 2/12 races
1: Sébastien Buemi (SUI), 50 p.
2: Lucas di Grassi (BRA), 28 p.
3: Nicolas Prost (FRA), 24 p.
4: Felix Rosenqvist (SWE), 19 p.
5: Sam Bird (GBR), 18 p.