The second season of the FIA
Formula E Championship could not have started on a better note for Mahindra
Racing as its team driver Nick Heidfeld (he replaced Karun Chandhok from first season) scored their first ever Formula E
podium, finishing third in a tight battle on the streets of Beijing. Mahindra’s
new M2Electro Formula E car made a strong start to the 2015/16 season with Nick
Heidfeld and Bruno Senna qualifying P3 and P7 respectively and finishing P3
Mahindra Racing is one of only
ten teams – and the only Indian team – to compete in the FIA Formula E
The race was won by Sebastien
Buemi. He became the first driver to ever score the maximum possible points
haul of 30 points.
After taking the Julius Baer
Pole Position in the new Super Pole shoot-out, the Swiss ace then went on to
dominate the SWUSP Beijing ePrix setting the Visa Fastest Lap in the process to
complete a unique hat-trick.
“It was a good race. It’s a
bit of a weird feeling because I felt I was a little bit on my own, but I would
not be against that. It’s good to win with a bit of a margin. I’m happy, the
team has done a great job and Renault has done a good power train so I’m just
looking forward to the next races right now. I think we even managed to have
the fastest lap, which was very difficult last year," he said after his
Buemi admitted he didn’t make
the best of starts, but he fended off the fast-starting Mahindra of Nick
Heidfeld into the first corner to hold the lead. From there on after he
dominated the race.
His ability to stretch his
lead was stymied twice by the intervention of the Full Course Yellow. This
caution system was making its Formula E debut and was given a thumbs up by the
Meanwhile, Dilbagh Gill, Team
Principal of Mahindra Racing Formula E Team said: “I don’t quite have the words
to describe what the first podium means to the team and to Mahindra. The
performance of both cars in qualifying and Nick’s final result (the fastest
team behind Renault) shows that the approach we took to developing the
M2Electro powertrain was the right one.
“The car has been reliable and consistent
since testing and we now know we also have a package that can compete in both
qualifying and race trim. We must congratulate ourselves but we must build on
this success in the next race. We could potentially have finished even higher.
We have a great car and now we need to aim for consistent race performance.”
Nick Heidfeld said: “I want to
thank the team for providing me with a car that can achieve a result like this.
I can be a demanding driver and as a team we pushed hard to get this result. We
will build on this achievement, refine the car and I believe the M2Electro can
continue to race at the front of the grid. I had to work hard to defend on the
final laps as other cars were putting pressure on me from behind but I’m glad
that our race strategy left me with enough energy to keep them behind me right
to the chequered flag.”
Bruno Senna: “It was a mixed
day for me. In practice and qualifying, the car felt good and I felt I could
have pushed further and further forward in the race. Ultimately it was the pit
stop that put me outside the points.
“I am so happy that Mahindra Racing has its
first Formula E podium. As part of the team since the beginning, I know exactly
what it means to everyone. We will go to Malaysia knowing we have a fast and
reliable car and with a cleaner race, the results will continue to come."
Buemi didn’t quite lead every
lap, however. He was the first driver to pit for his mid-race car swap, which
allowed Dragon Racing’s Loic Duval to spend a lap at the head of the field
before he too came in to change into his second car.
The pitstop process proved to
be Hedifeld’s undoing, and as the team struggled to get his belts fastened he
lost places to di Grassi and to Renault e.dams Nico Prost. A fine opportunistic
move took him back ahead of Prost, and the pair, who famously duelled for
victory in season one only to end with a spectacular accident, once again went
wheel-to-wheel around the Beijing Olympic Park circuit.
Prost eventually came out on
top, but there would be no podium celebration again for the Frenchman. For
reasons the team are yet to ascertain, the right-rear wheel guard fell off his
car, breaking the rear wing support in the process. Although Prost was able to
continue at race speed, the car was considered to be mechanically dangerous and
he was shown the black and orange flag by the race officials. This forced him
into the pits where he retired.
This promoted Heidfeld back
into third place to score the first ever podium finish for the Mahindra team.
The new era of Formula E is here. The racing was as spectacular
as ever and with 76,000 people attending the Olympic Park during the event
there was a fantastic atmosphere. But Buemi’s rivals will be hoping that his
incredible start to the season can’t stand the heat of Putrajaya, when Formula
E returns on November 7.
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