Felix Rosenqvist was forced to retire from the lead of a Formula E race for the second time in three meetings as Saturday’s Rome E-Prix ended in tears for the rapid Swede, who set a blistering pace around the streets of the Italian capital.
Rosenqvist was on fire during Formula E’s first-ever visit to Italy, topping practice and then going on to dictate the subsequent qualifying session – where he powered emphatically to pole position in his Mahindra Racing entry, a full 0.676s clear of the opposition.
It marked the second-largest pole position margin in Formula E history, and Rosenqvist’s sixth career pole from just 19 Formula E starts. No other driver enjoys a similar qualifying average.
Fending off fellow front-row man Sam Bird (GBR) to maintain his lead at the start, Rosenqvist then retained his advantage throughout the opening stint of the race, across the pit stop phase and despite the added complexity of a Full Course Yellow situation.
It would all count for nothing in the end, however, after his car ground to a halt with broken suspension in the Eternal City while still leading on lap 22 out of 33.
Rosenqvist recently suffered a similar fate in the Mexico City E-Prix back in March, losing a likely victory due to a battery error on that occasion.
”It’s a big blow to everyone in the team, and a sad way to end an otherwise brilliant day,” says Felix Rosenqvist. ”We were quickest in practice, comfortably ahead in qualifying, and led every lap of the race until that point. There’s not a lot more we could do. The guys deserved better than this and there’s no one to blame. We proved that we were the fastest car out there this weekend and I think that message has been clear for everyone to see, at least.”
Mahindra Racing are carrying out investigations to find out what exactly caused the failure.
“I was driving normally over the kerbs at Turn 12, hitting them like I’d done all day, but on this particular lap the suspension just suddenly failed,” Rosenqvist concludes. ”I don’t know why, but I think it’s just one of those things. I think we deserved to win this race and I’m very happy with my own performance, which is the main thing. We will take all the many positives, analyse what happened, and return just as strong next time out.”
The outcome in Rome means Felix Rosenqvist now drops to third in the Formula E standings, 37 points adrift of leader Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA). The next race takes place in central Paris on April 28.
RESULTS (top five)
ABB FIA Formula E Championship
Race 7/12 | Rome E-Prix
1: Sam Bird (GBR), 33 laps
2: Lucas di Grassi (BRA), +0.970s
3: André Lotterer (GER), +9.518s
4: Daniel Abt (GER), +10.167s
5: Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA), +17.444s
DNF: Felix Rosenqvist (SWE), +11 laps
CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (top five)
After 7/12 races
1: Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA), 119 p.
2: Sam Bird (GBR), 101 p.
3: Felix Rosenqvist (SWE), 82 p.
4: Sébastien Buemi (CHE), 60 p.
5: Daniel Abt (GER), 50 p.