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Formula E opener: Karun Chandhok finishes fifth for Mahindra

Karun Chandhok steers his car during the inaugural race in Beijing on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: Ng Han Guan

India’s Karun Chandhok took Mahindra Racing’s first points in the all-electric FIA Formula E Championship by finishing fifth in the inaugural race on Saturday.

Lucas di Grassi of Audi Sport ABT got lucky to win the first ever race of the Championship after the leading pair of Nick Heidfield and Nicolas Prost collided on the last lap of the race.

Chandhok finished a strong fifth following some close racing around the Olympic Park street circuit. Brazilian team-mate Bruno Senna, who failed to post a qualifying time earlier today owing to a battery issue, hit more misfortune after suspension damage on lap one forced him to retire.

Following this morning’s qualifying session, Chandhok lined up fourth for the race with Senna 19th.

As the lights went out for the first ever Formula E start Chandhok got away well, but was passed by a fast starting Nick Heidfield from behind. Senna meanwhile was pushing hard to make up positions but in the melee of the first few corners was pushed onto the kerbs which proved too much for his front left suspension that collapsed putting him out of the race.

The safety car was brought out on lap three with Chandhok still running fifth place. After Senna’s car had been recovered, the action resumed on lap five, with the only Indian driver in the series holding onto fifth at the restart.

A few laps later Chandhok was still pushing and keeping fifth place to stay ahead of Franck Montagny. Montagny was charging though and passed Chandhok on lap 12 to take fifth place.

Chandhok made his car change on lap 15, switching to a fresh car with full battery charge to complete the remainder of the race. Emerging back on track, Chandhok had lost a position to Sam Bird, but the Mahindra driver was on a charge and a few laps later put in one of the overtaking moves of the race to claim back sixth place on lap 21.

An overheating battery hampered Chandhok’s progress at the end of the race though, the Indian racer lost several seconds which allowed Bird and Charles Pic past putting Chandhok down to eighth. A dramatic final lap however for leaders Nicholas Prost and Heidfield, which saw both drivers out of the race, elevated Chandhok to sixth at the flag.

He made up an additional position after the race when third placed man Daniel Abt was handed a time penalty for undisclosed issue which dropped him to tenth.

“It was a good race; I was comfortable staying with the leading pack and passed Sam and was catching Daniel but then the battery over heated and I lost a handful of seconds in the final laps which lost me two places. We were quick though, our pace overall has been with the leading pack. There’s lots of positives to be taken away and some lessons learnt too,” said Chandhok.

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Printable version | Dec 2, 2021 11:47:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/formula-e-opener-karun-chandhok-finishes-fifth-for-mahindra/article6408056.ece

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