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HKT Hong Kong E-Prix

by SCMP

2017 FIA Formula E HKT Hong Kong E-Prix

Rookie year done, Felix Rosenqvist targets double delight in Formula E opener in Hong Kong

After excelling in his rookie year in Formula E, the two-time Macau Grand Prix winner says his Mahindra team can only improve on their third-place finish

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 October, 2017, 11:05am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 October, 2017, 2:20pm

Flying Swede Felix Rosenqvist declared himself primed for an assault on the 2017-18 FIA Formula E championship after preseason testing in Spain.

The real action will begin on Hong Kong’s Central Harbourfront across the weekend of December 2-3.

“You can’t afford to have a bad double-header at the start of the season,” said Rosenqvist.

“For me it is the most important event of the year. It was my favourite last year – both atmosphere wise and track wise.”

The 25-year-old Mahindra driver excelled in his first full season of electric racing, coming third with one win and six podium finishes.

Rosenqvist now believes he has the experience – and the ammunition – to lay down a serious challenge to the likes of last year’s champion, ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport’s Lucas di Grassi, and 2015-16 title winner Sebastien Bruemi, who finished runner-up last season for Renault e.Dams.

“Formula E is very special for me in a lot of ways,” said Rosenqvist, during a break in testing at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo outside Valencia. “You have to think about a lot of things.

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“It’s a championship where it’s about the technology as well, so it’s not just about being quick and delivering on the track.

“It’s like a never-ending race – it continues to develop even when you are not racing. Finishing third was a sign of strength and we will take it on from there.”

Formula E teams were first alerted to the rising talent when he won the 2014 Macau Grand Prix, before the Swede confirmed his potential with a second win in that famous race in 2015. Rosenqvist also collected the 2015 European Formula Championship with 14 victories for the season.

“I think Macau showed everyone that I have speed,” said Rosenqvist. “Everything started with that first win and the second took my career to another level entirely.”

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Rosenqvist was fourth fastest in testing behind NIO driver Oliver Turvey on the final day – and will now focus on the Japanese Super Formula series where he sits in third place with two races to go on October 22.

Then it’s all systems go for Hong Kong.

“I think as a rookie last year I had my mistakes,” said Rosenqvist. “If the car is as good, or even better, then we can win.

“It’s always the case that when you come back after being a rookie you are better. We can’t wait to get there.”

Another driver raring to get back to Hong Kong is the winner of Formula E’s inaugural series in 2014-15 – Brazilian Nelson Piquet Jnr.

The 32-year-old with the Formula One pedigree – he spent two seasons racing with Renault and grew up immersed in the fame that surrounded his three-time world F1 champion father – struggled to recapture that form across the past two seasons with China Racing/NextEV TCR (now known as NIO) and has signed on with Panasonic Jaguar Racing for their second tilt at the fledging electric series.

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Last year, racing in the NextEV TCR colours, Piquet claimed the first-ever pole in Hong Kong and was leading the race for 17 of its 45 laps before fading to finish 11th.

“We got through a lot of work,” Piquet said of testing. “There’s been a lot of adjustment, and a lot of things need to improve.

“There’s a lot of people with the team who are new and who are getting used to Formula E. So it’s good, but there’s a lot of work ahead.

“Last year the Hong Kong track was great, the city was great. We have to be humble because the team is very new.

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“The teams are learning a lot very quickly so the pressure is on everyone. But we’re progressing very quickly,” Piquet said.

“We’re working hard to catch up on the two years that we haven’t been part of the championship.