The Chinese Island of Hainan played host to its first ever E-Prix as VENTURI Formula E Team drivers, Felipe MASSA and Edoardo MORTARA, went to battle for the Monaco based team at the 6th round of the 2018-19 Formula E Championship on Saturday 23rd March. An action packed race in the sweltering heat saw both drivers pushed to the limit at the 2.236km track’s debut. The final race results saw MASSA finish in 10th, earning a valuable championship point, with MORTARA in 13th.
With the thermometer nudging 30°C, the race kicked off at 3pm local time with Edoardo MORTARA beginning the race from 11th position with teammate Felipe MASSA in 15th. Both VENTURI Formula E Team drivers got off to a flawless start, with Felipe MASSA working his way through the pack and completing the opening lap in 12th and Edoardo MORTARA climbing to 8th place.
“It’s a shame because before the penalty I was in the points for 10th place. Unfortunately, I had some issues with activating Attack Mode, which resulted in me being penalised. The team has done a brilliant job since Hong Kong, but we need to go even further and we’ve definitely learnt a lot here – there’s still plenty of room for improvement. Hopefully we will do better in Rome, and I can score some points, or even get back on the podium. As an Italian-Swiss national, I’d be very happy with that.” – Edoardo MORTARA, VENTURI Formula E Team driver
The Italian-Swiss driver then hovered between 8th and 10th, until a crash resulted in the red flag being deployed with a third of the race to go. Before the interruption, Felipe MASSA was consistently in touch with the top 10, with both cars performing efficiently.
With just four minutes of the race remaining, NISSAN E.DAMS Sébastien BUEMI’s collided with 8th place MORTARA which resulted in him losing a place before quickly regaining it. Unfortunately he was then unable to avoid Robin FRIJNS (ENVISION VIRGIN RACING) and Lucas DI GRASSI (AUDI SPORT ABT SCHAEFFLER) who were stationary on the track. Undeterred, MORTARA went back on the attack and crossed the finishing line in 10th place, only to be handed a 16 second penalty for failing to activate one of his mandatory two ‘Attack Mode’ settings, demoting the Italian-Swiss driver back down to 13th.
Felipe MASSA crossed the line in 11th place, but the penalty for his teammate saw him promoted to a 10th place finish.
“It’s fair to say that this wasn’t our best race. Personally, I had a few issues with the car’s balance and in the racing pack, I had to contend with the collisions. I’m pleased to have picked up a point for the team though, as they’ve done an incredible job since the last race in Hong Kong. We’ll return to work as soon as we get back, we need to work hard to optimise the car, and hopefully we can get some good results with it in three weeks’ time in Rome – a city and a country very dear to my heart.” – Felipe MASSA, VENTURI Formula E Team driver
The 51st E-Prix took place in Sanya, on the Island of Hainan in the far south of China. Nicknamed the “Chinese Hawaii”, the popular seaside resort hosted eleven teams, racing on a waterfront circuit that provided the stage for a dramatic contest.
“It was a tough day for the team. Qualifying was incredibly tight, 0.105 of a second made all the difference. We made some small mistakes today, ones that we don’t want to repeat so we need to go back to Monaco and analyse exactly what went wrong and identify the key areas for improvement ahead of Rome. Ultimately it’s the difficult days which allow you to show your strength as a team, they can also provide some of the best learnings. We’re leaving Sanya firmly focussed on what we need to do to return to the track in Rome stronger.” – Susie WOLFF, VENTURI Formula E Team Principal
Rome will play host to the 7th round of the ABB Formula E Championship on Saturday April 13th 2019.