Felix Rosenqvist put on a storming recovery display to make up ten places on his way to fourth in Saturday’s ABB FIA Formula E Championship Santiago E-Prix.
The Swede, who entered the first-ever Chilean round of the all-electric series on top of the 2017-18 standings following two consecutive victories in Hong Kong and Marrakesh, struggled in qualifying conditions ill-suited to the characteristics of his Mahindra Racing M4Electro and was left far down the order.
From 14th on the grid, and with Mahindra Racing team-mate Nick Heidfeld one position behind him in 15th, Rosenqvist went into the race not knowing what to expect – but managed to turn the tables with a commanding fightback drive.
At the end of 37 thrilling laps, Rosenqvist had charged his way up to fourth, thanks in equal amounts to strong race pace and a very swift pit stop (on a weekend when minimum pit stop times were abolished by the FIA).
He put pressure on Sébastien Buemi for third in the closing stages, but opted for the better-safe-than-sorry approach to score a bunch of important championship points.
With Jean-Eric Vergne sealing victory ahead of Techeetah team-mate André Lotterer in the first-ever 1-2 team finish in Formula E, Rosenqvist now drops behind the Frenchman in the drivers’ standings. Vergne leads the championship on 71 points, with Rosenqvist holding second on 66.
“A very difficult race, I have to admit,” says Felix Rosenqvist. “After qualifying 14th, you’re always going to face a challenge. I needed to manage my temperatures and energy while trying to make up ground as fast as possible, and that’s not an easy combination.
“Thankfully we made a great pit stop, which helped a lot, and then I had some really strong pace after that. I was prepared to take any opportunities that came my way, but I didn’t want to risk anything and decided I had to bring it home safely. Incredible day, though, fighting back from 14th like that and scoring some solid points.”
The next Formula E round takes place in Mexico City on March 3.
RESULTS (top five)
ABB FIA Formula E Championship
Race 4/12 | Santiago E-Prix
1: Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA), 37 laps
2: André Lotterer (GER), +1.154s
3: Sébastien Buemi (CHE), +1.959s
4: Felix Rosenqvist (SWE), +2.793s
5: Sam Bird (GBR), +4.490s
CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (top five)
After 4/12 races
1: Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA), 71 p.
2: Felix Rosenqvist (SWE), 66 p.
3: Sam Bird (GBR), 61 p.
4: Sébastien Buemi (CHE), 37 p.
5: Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA), 33 p.