For the first time since he was 12 years old, Felix Rosenqvist is back in New York City.
This time, a high fever kept won’t keep him stuck in his hotel room. Granted, he is here on business in 2017.
Regardless, this weekend should be far more entertaining for the now-25-year-old Swede, who is leading Mahindra Racing into the first-ever New York City ePrix in Red Hook.
“This is one of those cities that everyone goes to at one point in their life and it’s crazy when you look at it,” Rosenqvist said. “To actually race here, Formula E works very hard to be able to do it. I think it’s always been very difficult because many people have tried to make a race here and finally they made it happen here in Brooklyn. It’s really cool…unreal.”
Currently in third-place within the driver’s standings of Formula E, which is a championship featuring electric race cars that look similar to those of Formula 1, Rosenqvist has become one of the brightest participants of the sport.
He put on a show during Formula E’s last round at Berlin, which vaulted him toward the top of the standings. He finished both races in first, but was penalized during the final race and was demoted to second.
The victory during the first day of racing was the first for Mahindra in Formula E:
“That was sort of a monkey off our backs,” he said. “Now we can put that behind us and focus on winning the championship.”
Rosenqvist is just 71 points back of points leader Sebastien Buemi of Renault E.Dams Racing entering the weekend. Granted, he also has Audi’s Lucas di Grassi to overtake. The Brazilian is 39 points ahead of Rosenqvist in the standings.
There could be quite the shake-up this weekend, though. Buemi will not be competing in Brooklyn because he will be taking part in the FIA Endurance Championship at Nurburgring in Germany.
That provides a prime opportunity for di Grassi and Rosenqvist to make a move and close the gap on Buemi considering 58 points are up for grabs this weekend.
Rosenqvist will have to keep an eye on what’s going on behind him as well. Renault’s Nicolas Prost is just 14 points behind and Rosenqvist’s Mahindra teammate Nick Heidfeld 23 points adrift.
“When it comes to the championship, I’m actually looking more back than forward at the moment, which sounds like something you wouldn’t do,” Rosenqvist said. “Twenty points behind me is like a pack of wolves to get the third spot in the championship so I’d rather keep third than lose it trying to get to second.”
While many drivers have been able to find some time for relaxation given the month-long wait between races, Rosenqvist has double the workload as he is competing in not only Formula E, but Super Formula.
He spent last week at Fuji Speedway in Japan as he took second place before boarding a plane and making his way to the United States for the inaugural New York City ePrix.
“I think you can look at this both ways,” Rosenqvist said. “Maybe there is a short time that you need to get used to the car again. But when you get back to it, it actually benefits to have done other things, other races…you can always learn something from the other championship and bring it to the other. At the end, I think it’s very good to me.”
Not only is Rosenqvist trying to beat the field here, he’s also trying to keep jet lag at bay.
“It’s busy, but as a professional, you have to work hard,” Rosenqvist said. “You get a bit thrown around and you have to make the best of it.”
He keeps that professional mindset throughout the entire process despite this being a momentous weekend in New York.
“The track looks very tight, easy to make mistakes. So the key this week is probably to survive,” he said. “I’ll get excited when I get a good result.”