First Formula E win a "realistic aim" for Rosenqvist
Mahindra driver Felix Rosenqvist believes that a win in his rookie season in Formula E is achievable after taking his first pole and leading at the last round in Morocco.
The Swede has enjoyed one of the strongest starts by any Formula E rookie, and is targeting a victory in season three of the all-electric championship.
“This is a very tough championship,” said Rosenqvist. “You really have to be here in Formula E to understand what it is all about and how challenging it is.
"I knew when I joined in the summer that the driver level was very strong and I would say the level is F1 quality, it is super competitive.”
“I never want to be over-confident and maybe Marrakesh just suited us at the time, but one thing I have to keep in mind is that the first two tracks we have visited have been more or less new to everyone, so that has helped me slightly as a rookie.
“Now we go to Buenos Aires and, unlike the first two circuits, the majority of drivers already know the track. But we are in the sim next week and are making big strides in this area to be really prepared for Argentina.”
Rosenqvist and the Mahindra team analysed in depth the Marrakesh race where both Sebastien Buemi and Sam Bird caught and passed the Mahindra driver in the second half of the race.
A variety of strategy and software coding quirks conspired to demote Rosenqvist from first to third in the second half of the race, but the Swede and his engineering team have since understood how they can improve for Buenos Aires.
“We sat down as a team and now know what we have to do to improve and not make the same mistakes,” continued Rosenqvist.
“As always in racing, you learn from experience and it should then make the difference when we get in to a good position like that again where we can fight for a win.
"I think this has to be our focus, I feel it is a realistic aim now.”
Analysis: How Rosenqvist has hit the ground running
Rosenqvist’s quick start in Formula E has not surprised seasoned F3 observers, who watched him score a remarkable string of victories that led to his 2015 title and a double victory in Macau in ’14 and ’15.
But few have made an immediate impression quite like the 25-year-old has made in Formula E before.
He has out-qualified teammate Heidfeld in both races so far, should have grabbed a debut podium in Hong Kong, and then grabbed pole and took third position in Marrakesh.
As elements of surprise go, Mahindra's chief engineer Vinit Patel rationalises the meteoric methods behind Rosenqvist’s immediate success.
“I would say in my 15 years of working in racing he has been the easiest driver to integrate into a team straight away,” said Patel. “He adapts to people around him so he can get the most out of every aspect in a team.
"He’s got a friendly, keen manner and asks lots of questions about the nuances of Formula E. He picked most things up incredibly quickly.
“He’s clear, concise and knows what he wants from a car. I remember that in the first pre-season test we did with him we tested him on a few situations which was designed to see how he could push the performance envelope and he had no qualms with adapting and suggesting different things.
"He has a great fidelity of driving where he can push to the absolute limit, come back from it and know that he can then go again to the limit very easily.”
Rosenqvist’s reflexes and no-fear attitude to discovering the limits are well-known, but in the complex world of Formula E, is natural talent still as important to have in the driver’s armoury?
Patel believes it is: “There are plenty of drivers that are quite cautious if a track is green, etc but Felix is definitely one of those guys that are natural and instinctive with oversteer or rotation.
“This aids your performance in Formula E because time is such a precious commodity on race weekends because track time is so brief.”
Rosenqvist and Heidfeld have quite different driving techniques in the cockpit, but the co-operative relationship has been a natural one since the start of the season.
The pair swap and try set-up and software coding suggestions and have so far begun race days with open-minded outlooks.
“Felix is a really honest racing driver,” said Patel. “The first thing he did after Hong Kong was put his hand up and say ‘sorry, I screwed up and that was me being a bit too confident’.
"I think we have a great dynamic between Felix and Nick. What we have seen so far is a very collaborative relationship.
“They are quite different personalities but I think Felix can see the effort Nick puts into his races before and after them in terms of his detailed feedback and knowledge of the systems.
"At Hong Kong, Nick came straight in to the box after his qualifying run and talked to Felix in the cockpit about the changing profile of the first chicane.
"So this then informs Felix and he knows now he can influence things more for the good of himself and the team at the same time.”
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