Felix Rosenqvist suffered heartbreak in the Formula E Mexico City E-Prix on Saturday, coming to a halt while holding a solid lead from pole position in the early stages of the race.
After storming to his second pole of the season (and the fifth of his Formula E career) in qualifying at Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, Rosenqvist quickly powered away to a four-second lead in the race, building a convincing gap while simultaneously hitting all of his pre-event energy targets.
It wasn’t long until disaster struck, however, as the Swede’s Mahindra Racing machine ground to a stop at the final corner on lap 14 out of 47. Rosenqvist initially managed to reset and carry on, but soon ran into further issues and dropped to two laps behind the leaders.
He returned to the pits to change into his second car, but eventually retired for good.
Team-mate Nick Heidfeld suffered a similar fate and also retired, making the Mexico City E-Prix a race to forget for Mahindra Racing. The squad still retains second in the teams’ standings, however, while Rosenqvist keeps the same position in the drivers’ championship where he now sits 12 points behind leader Jean-Eric Vergne (who finished fifth in Mexico).
Up front, Daniel Abt got to celebrate his first-ever Formula E win, with Oliver Turvey finishing second and Sébastien Buemi taking third.
“A big disappointment, of course, and a terrible day for us as a team,” Felix Rosenqvist admits. “It’s hard to take after leading the race from pole and feeling so at home in the car, but that’s motorsport and we all have days like this. At least the damage in the championship was not as severe as it could have been. I think we proved we were the fastest package out there today but unfortunately this time it didn’t help.”
Mahindra Racing is currently investigating the cause of the issues that struck Rosenqvist and Heidfeld respectively.
“We don’t know what happened yet, but it appears to be battery-related on my car at least,” Rosenqvist explains. “It seems to be a pretty unlikely issue, but we really need to go through the car more thoroughly to try and ensure this doesn’t happen again in the future. We need to see if there are any lessons we can learn as a team.”
On a more cheerful note, the race at least marked one positive “breakthrough” for Rosenqvist, as he received FanBoost – universally voted for by the fans and dealt out to three drivers in each race – for the first time of his Formula E career.
His pole position in qualifying also netted him three crucial championship points.
The Formula E title battle rages on in two weeks with the Punta del Este E-Prix in Uruguay (March 17). The seaside track returns to the Formula E calendar after a one-season hiatus, which means Felix Rosenqvist – now in his second campaign of the all-electric championship – will tackle it for the first time.
RESULTS (top five)
ABB FIA Formula E Championship
Race 5/12 | Mexico City E-Prix
1: Daniel Abt (GER), 47 laps
2: Oliver Turvey (GBR), +6.398s
3: Sébastien Buemi (CHE), +6.615s
4: Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA), +7.015s
5: Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA), +7.546s
DNF: Felix Rosenqvist (SWE)
CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (top five)
After 5/12 races
1: Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA), 81 p.
2: Felix Rosenqvist (SWE), 69 p.
3: Sam Bird (GBR), 61 p.
4: Sébastien Buemi (CHE), 52 p.
5: Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA), 45 p.