Formula E: Senna upbeat in spite of difficult first season

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Mahindra Racing’s Bruno Senna is remaining upbeat in spite of a difficult first season in the FIA Formula E championship that has seen him finish no higher than fifth in the opening eight rounds.

Senna joined Mahindra alongside former Hispania F1 teammate Karun Chandhok for the inaugural season of the electric-powered series, and has led the team’s charge to rank tenth in the drivers’ standings.

Speaking to the official Formula E website, Senna admitted that his first year in the championship had not gone entirely to plan and that the title was out of reach, but he feels that the underlying pace shown by Mahindra has been impressive.

“Well, it’s mathematically possible,” Senna said when asked about his title aspirations. “It’s a bit too far from us unfortunately.

“We’ve had a few too many losses not through our fault. Whenever we had a race that we actually competed in, we were very competitive.

“So we did some good comeback races and drives through the field, so I think in that sense we’re looking good, but we need to put everything together to be able to be on the podium and on the top step of the podium in the future.”

Senna also said that he hoped to see a round in Brazil join the Formula E calendar in the not-too-distant future following the success of compatriots Nelson Piquet Jr and Lucas di Grassi at the top of the standings.

“We need a few Brazilian drivers who are winning, which we already have,” Senna said. “Obviously we need a race in Brazil, so let’s work for that.”

The penultimate round of the Formula E season takes place next weekend in Moscow, Russia, ahead of the final double-header round in London at the end of June.

Ben Hanley relieved to make Indy 500 debut

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Qualifying for the Indy 500 is never an easy task, especially for a new driver and team, and with 36 cars vying for 33 starting positions last weekend, 34-year-old rookie Ben Hanley knew there was a chance he and his DragonSpeed team would not make the show.

“I wouldn’t say we were very confident, but we wanted to [make the field],” Hanley told NBC Sports. “The biggest thing we were trying to achieve was to not be on track on Sunday in the shootout because it only takes one mistake or one little issue and that’s it, you’re not in the race.”

But Hanley would not have to worry about being bumped from the field. He qualified 27th after making three attempts on Day 1, which was enough to lock the No. 81 team into the show. Not too shabby for a driver and team making only their third NTT IndyCar Series start.

THE 103RD INDIANAPOLIS 500: Click here for how to watch, full daily schedules

“That last run everything just came together,” Hanley said. “We trimmed out a little bit more and found a good balance of trim and grip over four [qualifying] laps and it was enough to get us through.

“It was a huge relief to get through in P27. A massive achievement for everybody involved.”

Indeed it was a massive achievement, as DragonSpeed is one of the smallest teams in the garage, with no corporate sponsors and a tiny team of around 20 personnel. Many of those were picked up by the team just a week before qualifying, when members of the team’s regular crew were denied entry into the United States due to visa issues after leaving a sports car race in Italy.

“It was all down to the team organizing some people who were in and around Indianapolis who weren’t needed for the race weekend,” Hanley said. “Obviously, I don’t think many people are going to refuse the chance to work on a car that’s trying to qualify for the 500.”

Though the team made its first Indy 500 on Day 1 of qualifying, the DragonSpeed team did not spend Saturday night out late celebrating. Instead, Hanley said the extra time was spent preparing for the race.

“We went straight on to race prep then for the car, so Sunday was a good day for the guys to take time to prep the car into the race spec and get everything sorted out in a nice, organized manner.”

Following the Indy 500, DragonSpeed will run two other races this season at Road America and Mid-Ohio. The team is hopeful that a good run at Indy will result in an opportunity to run a bigger schedule next season and attract sponsors.

Hanley stated that though he’s happy to have made the Indy 500 starting grid for the first time in his career, the magnitude of his feat hasn’t hit him yet.

“It hasn’t really soaked in yet,” he said. “I think it will soak in on Sunday when we roll out to the grid.

“It was such a huge relief to not be involved in Bump Day. Even just watching [Bump Day] it was intense, especially with the weather. I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to be involved in that.”

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