Just Electric

Mahindra Racing: Yet Another Impressive Rookie

Mahindra Racing went into the season full of optimism. After finishing fourth the previous season, admittedly after finishing third in season three, Mahindra decided to run everything in-house this season after a two-year partnership with Campos Racing. The car was launched at the CarFest South festival at Laverstoke Park, the farm belonging to 1979 F1 World Champion Jody Scheckter.

Neither of Mahindra’s drivers from the previous season, Nick Heidfeld and Felix Rosenqvist would be driving for the team with Heidfeld helping the Automobili Pininfarina PF0 hypercar project and Rosenqvist moving to Chip Ganassi Racing in IndyCar after making a cameo in the opening round. Replacing them were Jerome d’Ambrosio with the Belgian driver joining after four seasons at Dragon Racing and Pascal Wherlein who was new to the series… or rather when his contract with Mercedes finally let him drive for the team from Marrakesh onwards.

Wins 1

Poles 1

Fastest laps (top 10 only) 2

Teams’ Championship position 6th (125 points)

Drivers’ Championship position Jerome d’Ambrosio – 11th (67 points); Pascal Wehrlein – 12th (58 points); Felix Rosenqvist – 25th (0 points)

Mahindra had a strong start to the season and arguably, this is where the majority of their high points can be found although the strongest of these was their win in Marrakesh for Jerome d’Ambrosio. This was made all the more impressive after the Belgian driver had qualified tenth and had been out-qualified by Pascal Wehrlein in the sister car.

Arguably the lowest point of the season from Mahindra would have to be the 50th Formula E race in Hong Kong. In what was an unabated nightmare for the team, not only did they lock out the last row of the grid and by quite some margin; the race itself for both d’Ambrosio and Wehrlein lasted all of two corners after they had nowhere to go and ended up crashing into Felipe Nasr’s Dragon and between the three of them, causing the race to be stopped due to the track being blocked.

#64 – Jerome d’Ambrosio

Jerome d’Ambrosio is one of just a few drivers in the series to have competed in every round since the start of the series and that experience paid off. Whilst the Belgian driver had won races before, they were won in the stewards' room after the race. The win in Marrakesh was, in fact, the first time that he had won on the track! After a trying time with Dragon, the move to Mahindra was just what he needed and after a podium in the preceding race at Ad Diriyah, there was talk of d’Ambrosio potentially being a dark horse for the championship.

Excluding the aforementioned round in Hong Kong, Paris was possibly the lowest moment for d’Ambrosio. Both Mahindra’s locked out the last row of the grid after failing post-qualifying tech and whilst Pascal Wehrlein was able to finish the race with a point for tenth, d’Ambrosio crashed on the 29th lap but had covered enough distance to be classified in 17th. He had also caused a collision with Sam Bird that was enough to warrant a three-place grid penalty at the following round in Monaco.

#94 – Felix Rosenqvist and Pascal Wehrlein

Whilst the announcement that Pascal Wehrlein would be driving for Mahindra got everyone excited, it was actually Felix Rosenqvist who drove for the team in the opening round thanks to Mercedes Benz refusing to release Wehrlein from his contract. Rosenqvist had a pretty torrid time and was slowest of all in qualifying before retiring from the race with a broken driveshaft.

Wehrlein had an impressive debut season and there were some notable high points such as finishing on the podium in just his second race in Santiago de Chile and getting pole position in Mexico City. He almost won the latter had he not run out of energy on the last lap and was overtaken within metres of the finish line by Lucas di Grassi. Wehrlein was demoted to sixth after the race though for cutting the chicane at Turns 3,4 and 5 on the final lap whilst putting up a firm defence of the lead.

Ignoring the cataclysmically dreadful weekend in Hong Kong, there weren’t many low points for Wehrlein. Arguments can be made for Marrakesh where he retired after getting hit by di Grassi and Bern, where he suffered a technical issue but other than those, it was a generally strong rookie campaign for the German driver.

Rob Lomas

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