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Formula E/LAT

Rosenqvist, Heidfeld retained by Mahindra for Formula E season four

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Mahindra Racing will enter the new FIA Formula E season with an unchanged driver line-up after confirming Felix Rosenqvist and Nick Heidfeld in race seats on Wednesday.

Mahindra charged to third place in the teams’ championship in the 2016/17 campaign, taking its maiden victory with Rosenqvist in Berlin and nine further podium finishes.

The team had long been expected to run with an unchanged line-up for the 2017/18 season, with confirmation arriving two weeks before pre-season testing begins in Valencia, Spain.

“We’re thrilled that both Nick and Felix will remain with Mahindra Racing next season,” team boss Dilbagh Gill said.

“With them, we’re confident that our new race car, the M4Electro will prove to be our strongest yet and Mahindra will consistently be fighting at the front of the field for wins and championships.”

“I am proud to be part of Mahindra Racing where we have been going from strength to strength in Formula E,” added Heidfeld.

“It’s exactly where I want to be and I am delighted to extend my contract and commitment to target even more success. I am thrilled and can’t wait to compete in my M4-Electro in this ever-improving championship.”

Rosenqvist finished season three as Formula E’s top rookie, and despite links with an IndyCar drive after a successful test at Mid-Ohio over the summer, the Swede is relishing the chance to continue his development in the series.

“I’m thrilled to be back for a second season in Formula E and to extend my relationship with Mahindra Racing That was our mutual intention from the very beginning, and we’ve already completed a series of promising tests with the M4Electro in recent months,” Rosenqvist said.

“Moving into season four, I will draw on everything I learned in 2016-17 to try and lift us to the next level. It will be a massive challenge with stiff competition, but we have a solid foundation and are all fully committed to taking the fight to the very best.”

Formula E’s fourth season kicks off in Hong Kong on December 2.

Rosenqvist: Mercedes, Porsche arrivals ‘last nail in the coffin’ for FE critics

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Formula E race winner Felix Rosenqvist has welcomed the addition of manufacturers Mercedes and Porsche to the series, saying their joint arrival is “the last nail in the coffin” for the all-electric series’ doubters.

The reigning champions in Formula 1 and the FIA World Endurance Championship respectively, Mercedes and Porsche confirmed last week they would be joining the Formula E grid in season six, starting in the winter of 2019.

Mercedes will be shutting its DTM program in order to commit to the electric single-seater championship, while Porsche’s entry comes at the cost of its successful LMP1 team.

The news means there are 11 manufacturers signed up for Formula E in season six, with the likes of Audi, BMW, Jaguar and Renault already enjoying involvement.

Reflecting on the announcements from Mercedes and Porsche, Rosenqvist believes it will silence many who doubt Formula E has a future within motorsport or is of interest to manufacturers.

“You always hear people trash-talking Formula E, especially the older generation, that it’s not proper racing, blah blah blah. I think they sort of put the last nail in the coffin,” Rosenqvist told NBC Sports.

“It was quite nice. A lot of people got a bit silence by that. Massive for Formula E, and good for everyone involved. It just says a lot about where the championship is heading.

“I think it’s also important to not look at where the championship is now but where it will be in five years. I think that’s the main thing, and I think that’s what the manufacturers are thinking as well.

“This is just the beginning. For sure there will be bright times ahead for the series.”

As Formula E season ends, Rosenqvist’s IndyCar buzz heats up

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LEXINGTON, Ohio – It’s not often a guy with less than a full season in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires competition gets on the radar as a highly rated potential Verizon IndyCar Series prospect.

Felix Rosenqvist, though, is not your average Indy Lights part-timer.

The Swede just completed his first full season in the FIA Formula E Championship this weekend in Montreal with Mahindra Racing, finishing third in the series with several wins.

But he has also been the subject of intense hype and speculation in the Verizon IndyCar Series paddock, following his second test with Chip Ganassi Racing at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course prior to Montreal. This all comes after an impressive partial season in Indy Lights last year with Belardi Auto Racing, when he won three races.

The disclaimer first is that Rosenqvist, who’s become a jack-of-all-trades in the last two years with the variety of series, machinery and continents he’s raced on, will only become a realistic IndyCar prospect if he doesn’t have an existing commitment that comes first. And certainly, one would figure Mahindra to be keen on retaining Rosenqvist’s services for a second season in that championship if possible.

Nonetheless, the chatter is there about Rosenqvist in IndyCar as a true “can’t miss, blue chip” prospect, and the prospect of him racing here is a tantalizing one.

“After I did Indy Lights last year, I told myself that I probably wanted to come back one day,” Rosenqvist told my MST colleague Luke Smith at this weekend’s Formula E finale in Montreal.

“I quite liked it over there, quite a relaxed racing attitude, a bit more friendly than Europe. I said that IndyCar is one of the championships I always really liked.

“It’s a bit like Formula E, you have street circuits, you have normal circuits, you have ovals. It’s like three different championships in the same championships.

“I would say the best driver normally wins the championship. We’ll see what happens. It’s always difficult to say, but it was definitely a good session and hopefully another opportunity for the future.”

Rosenqvist said because of how much Formula E is growing, that it’d be harder to do a complementary program either way, if Formula E or IndyCar was the priority.

“I think both Formula E and IndyCar are getting so big now, you cannot really combine much,” he explained. “I’m lucky this year to be able to do Super Formula on top of Formula E. I think it’s the only championship which doesn’t really clash. I think we are lucky as long as we can do that, but one day I think Formula E drivers will have to commit 100 percent.”

Rosenqvist, who is managed by ex-Formula 1 and IndyCar veteran Stefan Johansson, said it’s “hard to say” whether he could be considered for the IndyCar free agent pool this year, and preferred to focus on Montreal before worrying about his future.

Chip Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull stopped short of saying Rosenqvist would be an ideal teammate for Scott Dixon, also managed by Johansson, next year in IndyCar, but certainly highlighted his ability after his second test.

“First of all he’s a quality guy. He’s grown up in a system of racing where every day counts. You have to get the most out of today,” Hull told NBC Sports at Mid-Ohio.

“I think he represents a lot of young guys that because of the way economy of Formula 1 has changed, they don’t get the opportunity to get to the grid without having money. As an example today, on the Formula E grid, there’s a lot of guys on that grid who should be in F1 today but can’t buy their way in.

“He deserves an opportunity just like a lot of other young guys do. He’s young, aggressive, and has a lot of ability.

“I think he represents the kind of driver that should be driving IndyCars.

“I don’t think it’s fair to single him out and say, ‘hey, that’s the guy we want’ – but we want guys like him driving our race cars.”

Luke Smith contributed to this report

Rosenqvist on pole for Formula E title decider in Montreal

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MONTREAL, Canada – Felix Rosenqvist swept to his third pole position of his rookie Formula E season on Sunday in Montreal as Lucas di Grassi tightened his stranglehold on the championship ahead of the final race.

Rosenqvist led Mahindra to pole position after edging out DS Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird by two-tenths of a second in the Super Pole shootout, picking up three bonus points in the process.

Rosenqvist now sits just one point shy of Bird in the race for P3 in the drivers’ championship, but it was the implications on the title fight that became the bigger point in qualifying.

After his victory on Saturday and Sebastien Buemi’s disqualification, Lucas di Grassi secured P5 on the grid, meaning he only needs a fifth-place finish to secure the championship regardless of his rival’s result.

An error on his flying lap resigned Buemi to P13 on the grid, with teammate Nicolas Prost dropping to the rear of the field due to a grid penalty.

The Formula E title decider kicks off at 4pm ET in Montreal.

Felix Rosenqvist returns to U.S. street courses at NYC ePrix

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One of the stars of last season’s Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires was Felix Rosenqvist, who won three of the four street course races for Belardi Auto Racing in a partial season.

The Swede was meant to have Indy Lights as a full program but only ran through Indianapolis before another driver (James French) took his place at Road America, before he returned at Toronto in mid-July last year.

On that weekend, Rosenqvist came back as if he’d never left with a pair of pole-to-flag romps for victories, for his second and third wins of the season.

But with his career taking him to new places in the last 12 months – he’s raced a Mercedes-AMG GT3 in sports cars, he tested an IndyCar with Chip Ganassi Racing at Mid-Ohio (and has been rumored to do so again this year), he’s raced at Le Mans with DragonSpeed, at Macau in Formula 3, in DTM with Mercedes, in Super Formula with Toyota and the FIA Formula E Championship with Mahindra Racing – Rosenqvist hasn’t made much in the way of visits to North America for racing since, other than to Mexico City for the FE round there in April.

Fortunately that changes this weekend at the Qualcomm New York City ePrix, where Rosenqvist enters the weekend third in points on the heels of his first Formula E win at Berlin last month. He also just banked his first Super Formula podium last weekend in Fuji, when he finished second.

He would have had a weekend sweep there, but for a pit safety infraction on the mandatory car change pit stop in the second race and a 10-second penalty assessed as a result. That gave the win to Renault e.dams’ Sebastien Buemi even though Rosenqvist was first on the road.

The Swede told my MST colleague Luke Smith that his American street course experience would help in Formula E and it’s proven that way this season.

“I can’t wait to go racing in New York City. I’ve competed in the United States before but I’m looking forward to racing around the streets of Brooklyn in the M3Electro,” Rosenqvist said in the team’s pre-race release.

“It’s a really important race for the team and we’re confident we can continue our podium streak – and hopefully chase down more wins! I’m also really looking forward to exploring the city – I’ve only been to New York once but didn’t get a chance to see the sights.”

The doubleheader of races takes place this weekend on Saturday and Sunday.