The first race for Formula E on the African continent provided us with a thrilling battle for the podium, as Renault e.dams’ Sébastien Buemi made the decisive move six laps before taking the checkered flag, being 7 seconds behind the leader.
In what looked like a dominant lights-to-flag victory for Mahindra’s Felix Rosenqvist, took a turn when the Swede lost the lead to Buemi with just six laps remaining. After another three laps, Rosenqvist couldn’t put up resistance against DS Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird, who took the runner-up spot. Nevertheless, the Indian outfit reached their aim of finishing on the podium again, after another impressive performance from Rosenqvist, who leaves his fans hungry for more.
“I couldn’t complete a traditional-style race in Hong Kong, so I went here not really knowing too much about energy conservation in race mode. I learned an awful lot about it today. I made a good start in the race, and – even though we were in with a chance of winning – I’m thrilled with this podium,” said Rosenqvist.
“Formula E races are very specific and require a lot of tactics, so I will continue to fine-tune that,” he added, having taken his maiden Formula E podium. “In the end, Buemi and Bird had another strategy and were able to get ahead, so we need to sit down and analyze what we could potentially have done better.“
Buemi, who initially qualified second, received a five-place grid penalty and a 2.500 Euro fine, due to the fire extinguisher on his car weighing less than the required 3.25kg. The Swiss was happy of gaining six places, as he fought his way to the top step of the podium.
“In my first lap, I used a bit too much energy but after that we were able to save charge, so we could be strong and push when we needed later in the stint, and this really worked for us. We know that we have an efficient car and we had to take advantage of that after we started further back on the grid than we wanted”, he explained.
Troubled by problems
Due to a timing mistake by Techeetah, Jean-Éric Vergne was not allowed to exit the pit lane, having left his pit box too late. Following Buemi’s penalty, the 26-year-old started in fourth position. He fought his way up to second place, when he was handed a drive-through penalty, as a result of speeding in the pit lane. “Sometimes it just isn’t your day! It’s frustrating not to give my fans and the team more than P8“, said Vergne.
There were several drivers that experienced electrical difficulties, including Venturi’s Maro Engel, who came in for his pit stop, but never made it back out on track. „It’s difficult because you don’t control anything in that kind of situation. I wanted to push, we were good in our strategy in regard to our position on the grid and everything collapsed. It’s a shame“, summarised Engel.
António Félix da Costa (MS Amlin Andretti) was in eighth position, when a system issue caused the all-electric machine to switch off. The power failure resulted in an early car change, resulting in him being unable to finish the race.
Loïc Duval (Faraday Future Dragon Racing) was the cause of a yellow flag, having stopped out on track. The Frenchman managed to continue ,but with the remotest chance of fighting for a significant position, the team decided to call him into the pits again. After changing his car to a low downforce setting, Duval set the fastest lap, scoring one point. Shortly before the end of the race, Mitch Evans (Jaguar Racing) crashed out, after a braking mistake in turn seven saw him finish his race in the wall.
Most of the overtaking manoeuvres happened at Turn 7, but with energy management being a key focus from lap three onwards, the Marrakesh ePrix was a rather relaxed race.
In about three months, on 18th February 2017, the FIA Formula E Championship will be back in action for round 3 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.