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Mahindra Racing’s loss of form in the concluding races has both the team and the fans distraught
After finishing last season in fourth place, Mahindra Racing’s innings in Season five of the FIA Formula E championship started on a positive note, with new drivers Jerome d'Ambrosio and Pascal Wehrlein making their debut for the team at the Ad Diriyah E-Prix in Saudi Arabia, with Jerome d'Ambrosio finishing third, with 15 points. D'Ambrosio then stepped up the pace, winning the next round at Marrakesh and catapulting the team to second place in the standings. Mahindra were fast becoming the team to watch out for, proven by Wehrlein who finished second at the Santiago E-Prix with 18 points, although d'Ambrosio, who started in 20th place, finished 10th.
The Mexico E-Prix would have been a turning point for the team, with d'Ambrosio and Wehrlein finishing fourth and sixth, with Wehrlein even claiming both pole position as well as the fastest lap, and it even seemed apparent in the next round in Hong Kong, where both racers made some initial progress at the venue where they had scored a win in the previous season. However, both Wehrlein and d'Ambrosio were eliminated after crashing into Dragon Racing’s Felipe Nasr, who ran into technical issues at the tight turn two.
That did not stop the duo, though, who finished sixth and seventh at the Sanya E-Prix, with another racer’s disqualification during qualification, as well as a slew of crashes moving the duo up the ranks. The team maintained their momentum at the Rome E-Prix, again finishing within the top ten, the duo employing some savvy driving and taking advantage of traffic following crashes on the grid to snake past the opposition into point-scoring positions.
However, their progress underwent a huge blow when they were disqualified by the stewards, who ruled their tyre pressures to be below minimum limits. This also stripped Wehrlein of his second Formula E pole, despite topping the qualifying session by 0.152 seconds and moved the team to fourth place in the overall standings. Not to be outdone, Wehrlein pushed hard in the next race at Monaco, setting a fastest lap and finishing in fourth place, the team’s best result since Mexico.
Buoyed by their results at Monaco, both drivers put in their best at the Berlin E-Prix. Despite an incident where Nissan’s Oliver Rowland pushed him into the wall, Wehrlein finished in tenth place, while d'Ambrosio finished seventh. But again they could not transfer their good fortune to the next race.
A multi-car accident at turn 13, involving both Wehrlein and d'Ambrosio, blocked the track and brought out the red flag. When the race resumed, d'Ambrosio was handed a drive-through penalty on lap 9, as he was held responsible for causing the collision on the opening lap, forcing him into the pits to serve the penalty from tenth. He emerged in 19th and then made his way up to a 15th place finish, whereas Wehrlein suffered a technical issue on lap 11, which meant he could not finish the race.
At the penultimate round in New York, Wehrlein qualified second, behind Nissan’s Buemi and ahead of Panasonic’s Alex Lynn. However, some aggressive driving from defending champion Jean-Eric Vergne and challenger Lucas di Grassi meant Buemi was able to pull away, finishing first. Despite his best efforts, Wehrlein was able to finish seventh, with d'Ambrosio finishing ninth.
Finally, in the last race of this season of the FIA Formula E championship, d'Ambrosio put it all on the line, setting the pace in the first session of the second day with a lap time of 1min 9.712sec. But an unfortunate spin saw him starting in 16th place, with Wehrlein in 18th. Their misfortune continued during the race itself, with d'Ambrosio finishing 11th, followed by Wehrlein in 12th place, their overall standings in the championship at ninth and seventh, with the team finishing at sixth place in the championship.