The Indian team is now a winner in Formula E, and in with a real chance of clinching second in the Teams’ championship.
Felix Rosenqvist handed Mahindra Racing an emotional first win in front of a full house of fans at the revised Tempelhofring circuit, laid out on the grounds of an airport.
Following the closest-ever qualifying session in the history of the FIA Formula E Championship, Rosenqvist started from third. He moved up to second when Jose Maria Lopez made a slow start, before gradually reeling in early leader Lucas di Grassi.
Earlier in the day di Grassi had taken the Julius Baer pole position by the closest possible margin, out-pacing Lopez by just 0.001s, while Rosenqvist in third was only 0.083s off pole.
The ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport driver was struggling to manage the temperature of the battery during the race, which as a result was making braking and regen harder and harder. Eventually Rosenqvist was close enough to pull off a move, driving around the Brazilian through the long first corner.
He almost lost the position when he made a small error into Turn 9 on his in-lap before the mandatory car swap, but he re-joined in front and pulled away to establish a comfortable lead and take a win that delighted the team, after a wait of 28 races.
“It feels incredible,” said Rosenqvist. “From the start of the day the car felt good, quick and consistent. I made a small error in Super Pole qualifying, otherwise we could have been on pole. We came here much more prepared [than when I was on pole in Marrakesh] and it’s a great compliment to the team. We have some fantastic people - I was waiting for this and finally it came.”
In the second race of the double-header weekend, Sebastien Buemi has extended his lead in the 2016/17 FIA Formula E Championship to 32 points after picking up his 12th career win in the all-electric single-seater series.
However, the Renault e.dams driver was not first across the line around the revamped Tempelhofring airfield circuit, but when on-the-road winner Rosenqvist was given a 10-second penalty for an unsafe release in the pits, he was there to pick up the pieces.
With a large part of the fanatical 24,000-strong crowd who filled the grandstands attending the event over the weekend there to cheer him on, Buemi was handed the winner’s trophy by Formula E super fan James Harmon, creating an emotional coda to a fantastic event.
“First of all, congratulations to Felix, I feel like he’s the one who deserved the victory today,” said Buemi. “We try to bring new updates and sometimes it can be quite difficult to put them into proper race condition. Yesterday it didn’t work so we came back to what we had in Paris and Monaco, and it worked quite well. It’s quite difficult to practice outside of the races and bring things that work straight away, so I’m happy that we managed to have a good pace in the race. The car was very quick - I think we were more or less the same pace [as Rosenqvist]. I’m very happy with that result, it just tastes a little bit different than normal.”
Two more double-header rounds remain in the season that will see Formula E travel to New York City and Montreal from mid to end July.
Buemi holds a 32 point lead over Di Grassi with Rosenqvist now third in the points standings, 39 points behind Di Grassi. Renault e.Dams holds a 58 point lead over ABT in the teams’ championship but the German outfit is now under threat. Mahindra Racing as the Indian team is just 22 points behind and with similar performances as in Germany and a bit of luck going their way there is every possible chance of securing second.
It has been a steady climb for Mahindra Racing as it went from eighth in the inaugural season to fifth in the second after parting ways with Karun Chandhok.