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ROSENQVIST: Hong Kong Debrief

Mahindra’s Felix Rosenqvist gives us the lowdown on his incident packed and successful weekend in Hong Kong…

Photo: LAT/Formula E

It seems crazy to think that the Hong Kong weekend is now over and done with.

Formula E is so fast-paced in terms of everything happening in one day, so when you get a double-header, everything comes at you incredibly quickly. Blink and you’ll miss the action.

At Mahindra we have been working super hard over the pre-season months and it was nice to see some of the upgrades we have made are working.

I have to say that after a big build-up, the championship delivered a spectacular weekend in just about every department.

Hong Kong is the perfect place to start a season because it is such happening city. Having spent some time in the area anyway recently with the Macau GT race and competed there a few times before, it is an area of the world I really love.

Before we went racing though, we had a really important announcement on Thursday evening in downtown Hong Kong.

We welcomed a major new partner to the Mahindra team – a semi-conductor technology specialist – called Renesas. It was great to meet them and to share our plans for the future. I think together we will form a really beneficial and interesting partnership.

Saturday at Hong Kong was not one of the finest for me, I have to say. We had some issues through qualifying, particularly in braking. This became a bit of a feature of my weekend if I am honest.

I got through to Super Pole along with Nick [Heidfeld] but a lock-up at Turn 1 meant I lost a bunch of time and so started fifth on the grid.

The race itself was incident-filled with a messy stoppage and lots of incidents. This included one for me when Luca Filippi hit me at the hairpin and damaged the radiator on my car.

This contact compromised us a lot and power limited us through an increase in temperatures due to the hit. It meant an early stop was a good move to gain track position.

After the pit stop shake-out I had a good position in P4 but we had gone tight on our strategy. This meant that even though a podium attack looked possible, the spin and damage really made us pay as the race came into the final stages and we started to get marginal on energy.

I was powerless – literally and philosophically – to resist those behind and came home seventh which, despite bringing points, was not what we were targeting from this race. Still, we then had just 24 hours until we could put that right.

We knew that going in to Sunday we had a decent package in the Mahindra M4ELECTRO. I could sense that a challenge for pole was on and what followed was one of the most memorable laps I’ve done. I had to get creative and was on the limit throughout. It was my ‘slalom lap’ because I slid so much. It was fun and it did the trick as I claimed my fourth pole in Formula E.

Photo: LAT/Formula E

If the start of Race 1 was actioned packed, then Sunday’s race proved to be just as unforgettable.

Firstly, the start lights didn’t work! This meant we sat on the grid for what seemed like an hour but was about 10 minutes before the Safety Car came through to start us off.

As I mentioned before, the brakes were tricky all weekend and everyone saw what happened at the hairpin. I went half-around and lost a load of positions. It was massively frustrating having to sit there and pick a safe place to re-join, but I did, and then went on the attack. This is when I really love Formula E.

I knew I had good pace and I started to overtake a few cars. First Prost, then Bird, then Turvey. Once I did my pit stop and came out just ahead of Evans I was in fourth position, which soon became third.

Then we all saw what happened to Edo [Mortara] in the final few laps. Mega tough for him as we all know how that can feel in racing, but there isn’t much time sentiment at this level, and I gratefully took second.

Under the circumstances, second place didn’t feel like a greatly celebratory position. We are here to win and of course I realize that without the half-spin at Turn 1, we could have got it on merit.

Then there was the final twist of drama with Daniel’s exclusion. Super tough for him.

As I said, when you are racing there is no sentiment, but out of the cockpit we all have massive respect for each other. To lose a race like this, especially the first – and on your birthday! Man, that must be hard. I genuinely felt sorry for Daniel.

Again though, we must focus on our job and we take the win and the points.

It was a strange weekend in many respects and in a way typical of Formula E electric street racing. I know it was well received on TV around the world. The championship goes to a higher level every year and for all of us as drivers, this is the challenge we love.

Catch you next time in Marrakesh.

A two-time Macau GP winner, Felix Rosenqvist drives for Mahindra Racing in the FIA Formula E Championship.

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