“Got my mojo working,” growled blues extraordinaire Muddy Waters nearly 60 years ago, “but it just don’t work on you.”
It’s a sentiment that Mahindra Racing’s first season veteran Bruno Senna and the team’s new signing Nick Heidfeld can identify with. Both showed flashes of something special in the first Formula E season; both failed to convert those glimpses of greatness into significant points finishes. Both began their season with abortive campaigns in Beijing. Both had dramatic crashes and needless penalties. Both are hoping that sweeping changes, new relationships and new technology will make for a much clearer path to success in season two.
“Last year we had some good races but for one reason or another we didn’t get the results,” Senna admits. The affable Brazilian fell victim to easily-damaged suspension multiple times, was penalised in Punta del Este when his mechanics didn’t put his wheels on early enough, and wiped out a possible podium place in Malaysia by slidin g spectacularly into the wall just a handful of corners from the finish line. His team mate, Karun Chandhok, struggled with thermal management issues and a car that never seemed to be fully pieced together. The team finished eighth out of 10 teams, scoring 58 points (victors e.dams-Renault totted up 232).
“Some teams did a better job than we did in developing their cars,” Senna says. “At the end of the season, we were still having more struggles than other teams. There were a few incidents that were avoidable that put us on the back foot.”
Monaco-based outfit Venturi was another team that showed pace and potential but which failed, ultimately, to deliver. Ninth position and 53 points was the best that the team could manage. While racing in the black and red cars, Heidfeld suffered a series of incidents, accidents and penalties that destroyed his season. The cumulative effect of the issues prompted his move – a move that was widely (and incorrectly) reported to have been forced upon him when the team hired Jacques Villeneuve.
“It was me that made the decision,” he says, quietly and in a neat, precise German accent. “Venturi’s performance was quite good – not in terms of results, but the team could have won three races. I like the people there and I was pushing very hard with them but I was not convinced that everything we were planning together could be achieved. In the end, I thought I could be more successful somewhere else.”
This is an excerpt from the October 2015 edition of the Current E magazine.