Felix Rosenqvist reduced the damage of a mid-race spin by setting the fastest lap of Sunday’s Hong Kong ePrix, bagging one point in the process on his Formula E debut.
The Swedish 24-year-old proved that his adaptation to the all-electric single-seater series has been largely smooth by taking sixth in qualifying in the Asian metropolis, two tenths down on the pole position benchmark and half a second ahead of his Mahindra Racing team-mate Nick Heidfeld (Germany).
As the race got underway later in the day, Rosenqvist made a good start, but still had to see Heidfeld sweep past around the outside of the tight first corner as congestion struck on the inside line.
Putting his team-mate under pressure for the next 15 laps, Rosenqvist eventually ran into trouble when he spun and hit the wall, inflicting damage to the rear of his M3Electro that forced him to pit earlier than planned.
With all hopes of a top ten finish now gone, Rosenqvist instead set about chasing the fastest lap and the one bonus point that comes with it. Once the dust had settled, his bid was confirmed a success, Rosenqvist putting in a time around the 1.8 km street track that bettered the pole position benchmark from qualifying.
Rosenqvist took the chequered flag in 15th place.
Up front, reigning Formula E champion Sébastien Buemi (Switzerland) won from Lucas di Grassi (Brazil), while Heidfeld went on to finish third.
“It’s nice to have our pace confirmed at this early stage of the season, and our package seems to be competitive,” says Felix Rosenqvist. “It’s always a bit uncertain going into a new season, but things have been running well for us this weekend and I have to say the organisers have done a great job with the track here. Unfortunately, I made a mistake that cost me possibly a podium today. I was running right behind Nick in the beginning and had a bit more in hand, so I don’t think the top three was impossible. It was my own fault and I’d like to apologise to the team, but I’ll learn from it and give it another go in the next race. Overall, however, we have to be happy with getting the fastest lap and showing that we’re on the pace from the beginning.”
Felix Rosenqvist will now travel on to Germany, where he is set to conclude the 2016 DTM season next weekend at Hockenheim.
Round two of the FIA Formula E Championship takes place in Marrakech, Morocco, on November 12.
FIA Formula E Championship
Hong Kong ePrix
1: Sébastien Buemi (SWI), 45 laps
2: Lucas di Grassi (BRA), +2.477s
3: Nick Heidfeld (GER), +5.522s
4: Nicolas Prost (FRA), +7.360s
5: António Félix da Costa (POR), +17.987s
15: Felix Rosenqvist (SWE), + 2 laps
FIA Formula E Championship
1: Sébastien Buemi (SWI), 25 p.
2: Lucas di Grassi (BRA), 18 p.
3: Nick Heidfeld (GER), 15 p.
4: Nicolas Prost (FRA), 12 p.
5: António Félix da Costa (POR), 10 p.
12: Felix Rosenqvist (SWE), 1 p.