The Formula E double header weekend in Berlin seemed to be a pendulum swinging back and forth for Felix Rosenqvist and Sébastien Buemi. Rosenqvist took the win on Saturday and seemed as if he’d duplicated his success on Sunday, only to be slapped with a 10-second time penalty from stewards for an unsafe release from the pits.
Sébastien Buemi, on the other hand, was excluded from Saturday’s race due to illegal tire pressures. Yet, with Rosenqvist’s penalty, Buemi took his sixth win out of eight races in the second Berlin ePrix round of the FIA Formula E Championship season.
Saturday’s racing at the Berlin Formula E double header
Mahindra Racing won Saturday’s component of the Formula E double header in Berlin. The victory secured the Indian constructor’s place in conversations about which teams are really viable teams in the ePrix series. With a double podium finish, as Felix Rosenqvist took first place and teammate Nick Heidfeld took his third consecutive third place win, Mahindra celebrated the reliability and performances of its M3Electro racer.
Rosenqvist continued at a stellar pace on Sunday, leading from start to finish, but the team was deemed a 10-second penalty for an unsafe release when the Mahindra teammates switched vehicles. The two Mahindras nearly collided as Rosenqvist started to accelerate out of the garage just as Nick Heidfeld was pitting.
Nonetheless, Rosenqvist now sits third place in the drivers’ championship. Heidfeld is in fifth, and Mahindra is solidly in third place in the constructors’ quest, shy of second place ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport by 22 points.
Dilbagh Gill, Team Principal, Mahindra Racing Formula E Team, said:
“This is a moment of great pride not only for the team but for India as well! It was an amazing feeling to see the tricolor flying high on both days and hearing the Indian national anthem playing in Berlin! Felix did an amazing job both days, his driving was perfect and to put his M3Electro on a pole after winning less than 24 hours before was magnificent to watch.”
Mahindra’s goal now to continue the pattern of success for the final races of the season.
Sunday’s double whammy of uncertainty and triumph
Sébastien Buemi was not the first driver to cross the finish line at Sunday’s Formula E race in Berlin. That commendation went to Felix Rosenqvist, who seemed to have won back-to-back races for the weekend. However, he soon learned that a 10-second penalty for an unsafe release in the pits would turn the win over to Buemi, whose lead in the 2016/17 FIA Formula E Championship increased to 32 points and his 12th career win in the all-electric series.
Rosenqvist’s demotion on Sunday is one more in a what has become a pattern of unsafe releases in the sport. Car swaps will remain a part of Formula E at least through the 2017/2018 season.
Many are calling for increased scrutiny of rules regarding car swaps, including examination of standards. This is especially important since time can be gained or lost during any pit stop, and teams and drivers are always looking to gain the tiniest of advantages when the cars roll into the pits.
FIA sanctions are in place for unsafe releases and have been assigned this season in ranges from monetary fines for the teams at thousands of dollars to time penalties, such as Rosenqvist experienced, and others.
Formula E uses double header to continue bringing fans to the sport
The Berlin Formula E double header concluded with another nod to the fans, as Welsh ‘Super-Fan’ James Harmon handed out the winner’s trophy on the podium. Standing beside Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag, Harmon described his experience as “the greatest day of my life, it is only just sinking in that a dream has come true.”
The 24,000 fans in the crowd were exhilarated to see Harmon hand the driver’s trophy to Buemi, envisioning themselves up on that podium and surrounded by racing’s finest.