It was a brilliant recovery drive to the points for Brazilian driver Bruno Senna as the third round of the FIA Formula E Championship got underway in Punta del Este for the Mahindra Racing Formula E team. Senna, who started from the back of the grid, managed his strategy well and came home to pick up his first points of the season. Karun Chandhok was unlucky to take contact with high kerbing which not only damaged his car but also forced him into the pits earlier than anticipated which in turn compromised his strategy for the remainder of the race.
The four group qualifying this afternoon was a mixed affair for the drivers – Chandhok drew the first group, which was anticipated to be on a sandy track, while Senna was set to qualify in the third. Both Mahindra Racing drivers were clearly quick, with Senna in the top ten and Karun just outside, however a penalty for Senna meant that he was forced to start from last position.
Just a couple of short hours passed before the lights went out on the grid to mark the start of the third round of the FIA Formula E Championship. Thankfully, despite the sandy track, both Mahindra Racing drivers got away well and made their way around the first corner safely.
Senna was a big mover during the opening corners and had quickly made his way up to 17th position with Chandhok in ninth, however a slow moving Daniel Abt followed by Virgin’s Sam Bird hitting the wall changed the first part of the race while the safety car was on track – and it wasn’t long before a second safety car was required to remove the stricken Amlin Aguri car of Antonio Felix da Costa.
However the shape of the race would further change when Chandhok hit a kerb which damaged his car; this inevitably meant he needed to come in for his car change which was unfortunately earlier than planned – throwing his race plan off kilter. Senna’s luck was better and after a slight brush with the wall himself was able to come into the pits more or less as planned which left him in a stronger position for the remainder of the race.
The final stint was a case of managing the power usage for Chandhok and gaining positions for Senna. Chandhok worked well with his engineer to deal with his longer stint however found the energy levels predictably falling in the final laps which saw him drop down to 13th overall.
Senna continued to push hard to gain positions within the top ten. Despite one final safety car period the Brazilian racer pulled off a brilliant recovery drive to sixth position overall despite having started from the very back of the grid – taking his first points of the season in the process.
Senna said of his race, ‘It was a very tough race to be honest and very eventful. We had everything going for us today but we had to start at the back of the grid which was unfortunate. We picked up the first points of the season today which we have to be happy with however I know we could have been on for a much higher finish if we had started further up and if I hadn’t had to avoid an incident up ahead. Overall though, I’m happy with the points and we just need more of that now.’
Chandhok added, ‘I caught the kerb at the turn 14/15 chicane which damaged my car – I wasn’t the only one who did this, I just happened to do it a few laps before my pit stop which was a problem during the race. The team performed a brilliant pit stop though and despite the final couple of laps we had really good pace which will stand us in good stead for Argentina.’
Team Principal Dilbagh Gill added, ‘The middle of the race was a bit of a tense moment with both the damaged cars coming in for their pit stops however it was great to see the recovery after the damage from Bruno – making up 14 places from his starting position.’