Mahindra buoyed with Formula E points lead despite mistakes in Hong Kong ePrix
Season 4 in the all-electric Formula E championship started on a mixed note for Mahindra Racing, which leads the constructors' table despite mistakes after claiming a perfect score of pole, fastest lap and a win on Sunday.
The season-opener had both Nick Heidfeld and Felix Rosenqvist qualify in Super Pole to be third and fifth for Race 1 on Saturday. However, an average start for both the drivers saw them drop to fifth and 15th respectively in the opening stages.
But a fightback saw Heidfeld get to third, while Rosenqvist made his way to fifth before losing out and finishing seventh - a post-race penalty of using 197kW power in the race saw him receive time penalty, dropping him to 14th as a result.
For Heidfeld, it was frustrating as the German felt undone because of over-defence from Techeetah's Jean-Eric Vergne. The duo almost collecting themselves at one point in the end stages of the race - the Frenchman, thus, keeping second.
"Probably, the most disappointing third place that I have ever had," said Heidfeld. "I just spoke to JEV, I didn't think he stick to the rules, if you block once to the right hand side, first of all he slammed on driving. We should see on TV and you are allowed to move direction and change direction once.
"Then when he blocked me on the inside, he should leave me space on the outside, so I was furious in the car to be honest, because I was much quicker but on those street circuits, it is hard to overtake.
"The pace was fantastic, this is why I am obviously a bit disappointed, there was more in it but it was a crazy race, I had a very good start, again, similar like last year, but this year I had no place to come back in, in the pack, so I had to break, otherwise there would have been a major crash."
This was Heidfeld's eighth Formula E podium and all have been third-place finishes so far. For Sunday's race, the German started 10th, but a mechanical issue which stalled his M4Electro in the middle of the race, dropped him down the order, finishing 15th in the end.
At the same time, his teammate Rosenqvist had a difficult Saturday's race, but fought back nicely on Sunday - even though the Swede complained of brake issues all-through the weekend.
After his pole for Sunday's race, Rosenqvist's start was undone when he missed the braking point at the hairpin, which resulted in him not only losing the lead, but dropping down the order in 11th position.
However, the Mahindra's pace allowed him to climb back to third after the mandatory stop, and he was then promoted to second after a costly spin from early leader Venturi's Edoardo Mortara, with Audi's Danial Abt claiming his maiden win.
But a post-race disqualification to Abt meant, the German lost his win, which was then awarded to Rosenqvist, who took his second win of the series, following his heroics last season in Berlin - with his fastest lap on Saturday, he completed a weekend with all three accolades in his bag.
"To be fair, I have been struggling with my brakes all weekend and showed it one more time when it was least needed. I just locked up the rear completely, they were completely stopped, so there was no way like to make them rotate again.
"I just spun around in Turn 1, I went a bit too far to let the other guys through and we had to go for a different strategy, but I felt so good in the car and I came into a rhythm and I was just feeling out of the world, so huge thanks to the team," said Rosenqvist.
With 44 points, Mahindra leads DS Virgin Racing by three points in the constructors' table heading into the second round in Marrakesh on January 13. Meanwhile, the drivers' standings has Sam Bird at the top, with Rosenqvist in third with 29 and Heidfeld fifth with 15 points.
Team boss Dilbagh Gill conceded the mistakes in Round 1, but was pleased with the package it has in store for Season 4. “Although we made a few mistakes and let ourselves down a bit, I’m happy that the team has picked up where we left off last year.
"That we have been the first team in the short history of Formula E to record a perfect score of pole position, race win and fastest race lap. We could have had even better results from the whole weekend.
"But for now, we’re happy with the race win, the podium, pole, and fastest lap. I’m confident that we’ve got a product that’s going to be strong and very competitive for the whole season," said the Indian.