For Indian motorsport fans, the first race of the Formula E double-header at Berlin will go down in history as one of the greats. After all, it marks the first ever victory for Mahindra Racing, the only Indian manufacturer in the championship. The win came courtesy the team’s Swedish driver, Felix Rosenqvist.
What made the race even more special was the fact that Nick Heidfeld, the team’s other driver, took third place at his home race. Splitting the two Mahindra Racing drivers was Brazilian driver Lucas di Grassi who competes for the Abt Audi team.
It was di Grassi, however, who started the Berlin ePrix on pole. However, when Jose Maria Lopez, who started second on the grid didn’t get off to a good start, Rosenqvist slotted into second. In fact the Swede had been on pace all through the day, with only a minor error costing him pole and relegating him to third spot on the grid.
Even though di Grassi managed to pull out a lead of over two seconds to the chasing Mahindra M3Electro, Rosenqvist caught up with the Abt driver, managing to make his way past him before the pit stop window. After the car swaps, it was Rosenqvist who dashed off into the lead, never really threatened by di Grassi. Third placed Nick Heidfeld wasn’t able to mount a serious threat to the second-placed Abt¬†and had to settle for the final spot on the podium. It was his third consecutive podium of three races.
Speaking at the press conference, Rosenqvist acknowledged that the entire day had been “incredible”. Save for the error in qualifying that put him third on the grid, he said that the car had been terrific, also acknowledging that the progress the team had made since the previous race in Mexico had been immense. Meanwhile, Heidfeld said that he was relatively happy, but “over the moon for the team”.
Perhaps the individual overcome with emotion the most was the man responsible for Mahindra Racing’s success, Dilbagh Gill, team principal of the Indian outfit. The day before the race, Gill had said “All we need to do now is win, because we’ve already had podiums.” A day later, he was standing on the podium, listening to the Indian National Anthem playing. ‚ÄúThis is a historic milestone for Indian motorsport on open four wheels. An emotional day and so rewarding for our entire team, partners, fans and colleagues back in India and around the world. We are ready to do it all again tomorrow for the second race in this double-header weekend in Berlin,‚ÄĚ he said.
Formula E now gears up for Race 2 at Tempelhof, which will run over 46 laps on Sunday.