Mahindra Racing – the king of season openers [Sponsored]
Just last week, Ad Diriyah in Saudi Arabia joined Beijing and Hong Kong in the exclusive club of cities that hosted a Formula E season opener. This fifth official season start also marked the fourth time in a row that a Mahindra Racing driver stood on the podium – making the Indian team the most successful at season openers in terms of podium appearances.
As convincing as this stat might be, it also calls for a closer look at the numbers behind Mahindra Racing’s season opener success. What does their overall performance in Saudi Arabia look like? Which of their drivers showed the better lap times? And: how does it compared to last season’s performance in Hong Kong?
On average, Ad Diriyah sees 13mm of precipitation in December. But for the start into the fifth season of the ABB FIA Formula E championship the desert city made an exception – and greeted Mahindra Racing and the other teams with thunderstorms and lots of rain. The latter eventually forced Race Control to cancel the first Free Practice session and things did not look much sunnier once it was time for the second practice. In the end, both Free Practices were merged into one hour-long session, nevertheless severely limiting the time teams and drivers had to get familiarised with the difficult desert track.
Jerome d’Ambrosio and Felix Rosenqvist, who was standing in for Pascal Wehrlein, only completed 25 laps before it was time to head into qualifying. While d’Ambrosio qualified a promising sixth, Rosenqvist suffered from a mechanical failure, thus only securing a 17th place. The Swede then made great progress during the race until he had to retire prematurely with the same mechanical issue he already experienced in qualifying. Meanwhile, his teammate managed to chase the leading cars in the last third of the race, crossing the line in a promising third place in the end.
Laps completed in each session (d'Ambrosio vs. Rosenqvist)
Laps completed (Mahindra Racing vs. DS TECHEETAH*)
* DS TECHEETAH have been selected as the benchmark as they are currently leading the Team’s Championship
Ad Diriyah proved to be a difficult Mahindra Racing comeback for Rosenqvist as technical issues slowed him down in both the qualification and the race while d’Ambrosio experienced a complication-free weekend, thus outperforming his teammate. Until his mechanical failure though, data showed Rosenqvist was on course for a top-six qualifying result which would have put both Mahindra Racing drivers very much in the mix. Unfortunately, the Swede was still slowed down by said issue in the race. While it was Andre Lotterer of DS TECHEETAH who set the fastest lap, Mahindra Racing showed promising pace and positioned themselves in the upper mid-field in terms of speed.
Comparison d'Ambrosio vs. Rosenqvist
Session best | 1:18.868
Jerome d'Ambrosio | 1:20.587
Felix Rosenqvist | 1:22.868
Session best | 1:12.591
Jerome d'Ambrosio | 1:13.830
Felix Rosenqvist | 1:16.113
Session best | 1:17.728
Jerome d'Ambrosio | 1:19.077
Felix Rosenqvist | 1:23.037
Session best | 1:12.435
Jerome d'Ambrosio | 1:13.685
Felix Rosenqvist | 1:15.676
SEASON OPENER 2017 vs. SEASON OPENER 2018
Starting a new season in Hong Kong and Ad Diriyah are two very different situations. Nevertheless, there are a few indicators that suggest that Mahindra Racing are thriving under the new regulations – despite the team not spending much time on the track due to the weather conditions. In both Free Practice and the race, the Indian team completed more than double the laps last year. It needs to be stated though, that the drivers took part in two practice sessions in Hong Kong in 2017 and the cars were still swapped during the race, accounting for longer races in comparison.
At the same time, both tracks are very different territory: the Hong Kong street circuit has a length of 1,860 km while the one in Saudi Arabia a third longer with 2,494 km. Thus, a comparison of laps times is difficult – but not impossible. Multiplying the Hong Kong lap times with 1.34 accounts for the 0.65km of track shortage, not taking into account track specifics such as corners and full-speed straights though. Based on these numbers, Mahindra Racing – and the series in general – made a big leap forward, improving their lap times by about five seconds in non-race sessions and by 13 seconds during the E-Prix.
Difference in fastest lap time