By Aaron Bearden, Contributing Writer
After two strong weekends to open Season Four of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, Felix Rosenqvist finally saw a true test of his championship mettle on the streets of Santiago, Chile.
He responded admirably.
Rosenqvist overcame a subpar qualifying session and drove his way through the field from 14th to salvage a fourth-place result in the Antofagasta Minerals Santiago E-Prix, keeping the Swiss shoe within five points of race winner and championship leader Jean-Eric Vergne.
“While I was ready for any opportunities that came my way, I thought of the championship and decided not to take any further unnecessary risks,” Rosenqvist said. “Incredible day though, from P14 to P4, good points, and that’s how we work towards winning the championship.”
Rosenqvist sat 14th on the grid when the lights went out to start the 37-lap E-Prix, one spot ahead of teammate Nick Heidfeld. While Heidfeld was lost near-immediately to a first-lap shunt that forced him to his second car, Rosenqvist survived the early attrition to emerge in 11th after the opening circuit.
From there the 26-year-old’s march to the front was on.
After an early safety car for Heidfeld’s crash, Rosenqvist began a steady ascent through the field. He made his way inside of the points before the traditional mid-race car swap, and took advantage of the removal of a minimum pit stop time to surge into fifth when the stops finally arrived.
Afterward Rosenqvist chased the leaders down to find himself within sight of Vergne an the rest of the podium. A mistake from Nelson Piquet Jr. allowed him to slip into fourth, and the three-time Formula E winner drew close enough to attempt to pass third-place Sebastien Buemi.
But in the end, his efforts weren’t enough to complete the overtake. Rosenqvist was forced to settle for fourth.
”I have to say, a very difficult race,” Rosenqvist said. “I had to save a lot of energy and my temperatures were really high.
“After a great pitstop I managed to get back out in 5th place. I had some fabulous pace after that, and tried to close the gap, but as I got closer, there was a lot of defending from the cars in front of me, and I couldn’t get ahead.”
Rosenqvist’s drive didn’t just help his own personal title chase – it also kept Mahindra rooted in the battle for the manufacturer’s championship. The team trails leaders Techeetah by two points for the overall lead.
“It was a challenging day for Mahindra,” Team Principal & CEO Dilbagh Gill said. “We didn’t maximize the qualifying, but we knew that our race pace was good. Felix did make it up to one better than the position we predicted and finished 4th.”