Beijing: German driver Nick Heidfeld scored Mahindra Racing's first ever podium, finishing third in a tight battle at the season opening Beijing ePrix to start the second ever season of the Formula E Championship on a positive note at the Beijing Olympic Green Circuit here on Saturday.
Racing on the 3.4 km street circuit, Mahindra's new M2Electro car made a strong start with Heidfeld and his Brazilian teammate Bruno Senna qualifying third and seventh respectively and finishing third and 13th.
Swiss Sebastien Buemi of e.dams finished first, clocking 50 minutes and 8.835 seconds while Abt team's Lucas di Grassi of Brazil ended 11 seconds behind in second place.
Both drivers gained a position before the first corner with Heidfeld challenging for the lead on many occasions. Due to complications during their car swaps, both drivers lost places during the pit stops.
The experienced German rejoined the track in P4. Suffering from a broken rear wing, Nico Prost was forced to retire, promoting Heidfeld to P3 and the team's best result to date. Senna struggled to recover from a poor pit stop and finished P13.
"I don't quite have the words to describe what the first podium means to the team and to Mahindra. The performance of both cars in qualifying and Nick's final result shows that the approach we took to develop the M2Electro powertrain was the right one," Mahendra Racing team principal Dilbagh Gill said.
"The car has been reliable and consistent since testing. We now know we also have a package that can compete in both qualifying and race. We must congratulate ourselves but we must build on this success. We could potentially have finished even higher. We have a great car and now we need to aim for consistent race performance."
On his podium spot, the 38-year-old Heidfeld said: "I want to thank the team for providing me with a car that can achieve a result like this. I can be a demanding driver and as a team we pushed hard to get this result. We will build on this achievement, refine the car and I believe the M2Electro can continue to race at the front of the grid.
"I had to work hard to defend on the final laps as other cars were putting pressure on me from behind but I'm glad that our race strategy left me with enough energy to keep them behind me right to the chequered flag."
Mahindra Racing is one of only 10 teams - and the only Indian team - to compete in the Formula E Championship, the first ever electric car racing series which started last year.