Formula E: "India magic" helps Oliver Rowland to 6th place and first WRC points at Mahindra home race
The Indian team Mahindra Racing - part of Formula E since the first season - experienced its first home race in nine years last weekend. The enthusiasm of the fans around the team was great. Oliver Rowland rewarded the team with a sixth-place finish, while Lucas di Grassi failed to score any points after a penalty.
After di Grassi had shown up with a pole position and a podium right at the start of the season in Mexico, it has been an unusually quiet first quarter of the season so far for teammate Rowland. His best result before the Mahindra home race in India was 13th place at the season opener. In Hyderabad, he was able to turn the tide within the team.
Crucial to this were above all constant further development over the weekend and a good performance in the race. After all, not much had gone right for the Briton in the practice sessions: He started the weekend in 17th and 21st place. In qualifying, Rowland finished in twelfth position. He also benefited from penalties against Pascal Wehrlein and Jake Hughes - so the bottom line was 10th on the grid.
In the race, the Mahindra driver was initially able to maintain his position and was then flushed into the top six as a beneficiary of the collision between the Jaguar drivers. Shortly after the safety car period, he set off on a maneuver against Rene Rast in turn 3. However, he didn't have to complete this maneuver because the German ran into Jake Dennis, causing both cars to drop back. Rowland had thus worked his way up to fourth position in the meantime.
"A bit of India magic" - improved energy management at Mahindra
Shortly before the end, Rowland even attempted a move against Sebastien Buemi that would have put him on the podium. Off the racing line, however, he was pushed to the outside and even lost position to Antonio Felix da Costa.
"I knew I still had a 5-second penalty, so I risked overtaking," Rowland told 'Motorsport.com' of the maneuver in the closing stages. "I knew it was probably the wrong decision because the track was so dirty, but I had to try something." The 5-second penalty for ignoring the track limits meant he still dropped to sixth place on the final lap.
Nonetheless, he collected his first eight points in the WRC standings with his first top-10 result of the year, and was particularly positive about the car's improved energy management and efficiency: "I was wondering with ten laps to go if we'd done something wrong and maybe had less energy for a lap."
- Lucas Di Grassi (@LucasdiGrassi) February 11, 2023
"Because the first three races were extremely difficult for me. I had very little feeling for the car and our energy management was not good," Rowland continued. "So today was incredible. Maybe that's a bit of India magic." On Instagram, the 30-year-old added that he had had a lot of fun fighting for the top positions.
Di Grassi: "Wrong tire strategy in qualifying was big mistake"
For Lucas di Grassi, things went less successfully in India. Seven tenths of a second behind the fastest in his group, Mitch Evans, the Brazilian only managed 19th place on the grid, writing on Twitter after the session that they had made a mistake with the tire strategy for qualifying.
But di Grassi also made a big mistake in qualifying.
However, di Grassi was also able to take advantage of the improved performance of his Mahindra in the race and finish in the points. From 19th place, it went in the meantime up to the seventh position forward. However, he ran out of power on the last lap and only crossed the line in 15th place. After his own 5-second penalty and the drive-through penalty against Sebastien Buemi, it ended up being 14th place, meaning he has not scored any more points since his podium in Diriyya.
Mahindra is 7th in the team standings after the Hyderabad E-Prix. The next chance for both drivers to take points for the team will be in South Africa in a week and a half (Feb. 25).
Great pace today !!- Lucas Di Grassi (@LucasdiGrassi) February 11, 2023
Amazing work @MahindraRacing !
P19 up to P7 and then a penalty took our points away.
Good effort from @oliverrowland1 finishing P6 from P10.@anandmahindra you forgot your gift ? pic.twitter.com/IVYJoGJdc6