Race Review: 5 Fast Facts from the Saudi Arabia E-Prix
Posted on: 19 December, 2018
After months of waiting, Season 5 of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship has finally begun. And it started off with a sensational race in the backyard of the Saudi royal family in Ad Diryah. For Mahindra Racing, the only Indian team on the Formula E grid, the first ever E-Prix in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia was a tale of mixed fortunes. The driver of the beloved Electro McElectroface, Felix Rosenqvist, was forced to retire due to technical issues in both qualifying and in the race – certainly not a farewell Felix would have liked.
On the other side of the garage though, Mahindra Racing had good reason to celebrate as the team's new driver Jérôme D'Ambrosio grabbed a well-deserved third place for himself and the team, stepping on the podium on his debut outing for the team. It also meant that Mahindra Racing is the only team in the championship to have appeared on the podium in the season opener for the past four seasons in a row. If Jérôme’s performance in Saudi is any indicator of what is to come, Mahindra Racing’s might need to buy a bigger trophy cabinet!
Looking at the bigger picture, we saw a lot of notable changes in the way Formula E races are contested. Here’s a look at few of the major modifications in Formula E this season and how they affected Mahindra Racing during the inaugural Ad Diryah E-Prix.
The eagerly awaited arrival of the Gen 2 Formula E cars saw an increase in power, with the maximum of the new M5 Electro and its competitors being raised to 250Kw during qualifying and 200kW in the race, plus an extra 25kW boost during the new ‘Attack Mode’ phase.
This meant that the cars were much faster on the straights and could often be seen shaking their tail on the fast, flowing corners of the streets of Ad Diryah. The greater power of the new cars saw speeds increase, with Formula E drivers feeling the thrill of racing at up to 280kph!
Fans Get Involved In The Action
With the unique concept of Fanboost, ardent Formula E fans like you and me can influence the race by voting for our favourite drivers and giving them an extra power boost during the race. This boost enables the Top 5 voted for drivers to boost their cars with extra power for a few seconds during the race.
The drivers can use this gift from the fans to defend against a rival on the track or to attack another driver and it can act as the difference between victory and bitter defeat. New for this season, five drivers can win Fanboost as opposed to three for the previous four seasons and this means that, as fans, we have a greater opportunity of getting the Mahindra Racing drivers, Jérôme D’Ambrosio and Pascal Wehrlein, a much-needed power boost during the race. Although it wasn’t to be for Mahindra Racing in Saudi Arabia, with our strong support, we can Fanboost our drivers during the upcoming race weekends!
Attack, Attack Attack!
Car swaps, the focal point of Formula E races have now become a thing of the past. This is due to the arrival of the new Gen 2 Formula E car with its battery that can last the duration of the race distance. In order to keep the excitement in the races, Formula E has come up with a radical solution: Attack Mode!
To gain the 25kW power boost, drivers have to go off the racing line and through the activation zone. Although the drivers initially lose time when going through the zone, they can look to make up the deficit by having an advantage over their rivals who are not in Attack Mode and that makes the racing very unpredictable! The time spent in Attack Mode will change at each race and could be, for example, four periods of two minutes or two periods of four minutes – all adding up to an eight minute period during the race distance.
Many have compared attack mode to the Mario Kart game, where a strategic mid-race power boost can send you high up the race standings. Say what you want about Attack Mode but there's no denying that it has escalated the drama and action in Formula E races to a completely new level. The drivers will be learning more about Attack Mode as the season progresses.
Patience and consistency pays off
Qualifying for Felix and Jérôme was challenging due to some really tricky weather conditions and a lack of track time at the brand new Ad Diryah circuit. Felix, in his final race before going to the Indycar Series to drive for Chip Ganassi Racing, faced a technical issue with his car in qualifying which caused an accident, leaving him unable to complete his hot lap. Jérôme, who originally qualified ninth, was promoted to P6 after grid penalties were handed out to multiple drivers.
While many other drivers who started behind Jérôme attacked from the very moment the lights went off, Mahindra Racing's new recruit settled into the M5Electro for a kind of race that he specialises in. Jérôme drove with immense calmness and played the role of the ultimate opportunist, striking when those ahead made mistakes and that allowed him to sneak past some of Mahindra Racing's biggest on-track rivals into third place. His marvelous drive shows why he is the right man to steer Mahindra Racing forward!
Well Halo There!
A very distinctive feature of all single seater racecars that compete in official FIA Championships is the brand-new Halo cockpit protection, designed for increased safety. The Halo not only serves as a means of saving the driver’s heads from any type of flying object, be it another car, flying debris or even a tyre, but in Formula E, it also acts as an indicator of what power mode the driver is currently using. LED lights across the top will glow light blue when drivers are in Attack Mode and magenta if Fanboost has been activated.
This makes the Halo a highly functional device which has been completely integrated into the look and feel of the new Gen 2 Formula E car. The glowing lights along with the exquisite new body kit makes the M5Electro one of the most beautiful and safest racecars around.
Farewell but not goodbye
For the last couple of years, Mahindra Racing’s swift Swede Felix Rosenqvist has entertained the passioneers like none other. With his aggressive driving style that always stands out and his immense arsenal of skills, Felix has created some wonderful memories for the team and all the fans who have seen him sprinkle stardust whenever he gets onto the track.
Felix was the man behind Mahindra Racing's most unforgettable moment as he and the team took their first ever win at the Berlin E-Prix in 2017. That was the day that the Swedish and Indian national anthems played loudly at the podium ceremony at a Formula E race for the first time. Mahindra Racing's team principal Dilbagh Gill was almost brought to tears and so was every Indian and Swedish motorsport fan.
The special bond that Rosenqvist has created with the entire Mahindra Racing family is irreplaceable and, although his final race with the team didn’t end in the way he planned it, his contribution to the team will never be forgotten. For now, Felix is heading to the other side of the pond to race in the Indycar series with Chip Ganassi Racing, but he has assured us that his time with Mahindra Racing and Formula E is far from over. Felix is still a part of a Mahindra Racing family and he has vowed that he will return to the booming Formula E series even hungrier than he has ever been before!
Disclaimer: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of Mahindra Racing.