After the successful debut of the Gen2 car is Ad Diriyah there was a lot to live up to in Marrakesh and boy did it deliver.
Sam Bird started on pole position after an all out lap in the super-pole saw him pip Jean-Eric Vergne to the top spot. As the lights went out Bird got the better start and already pulled away from the pack but Vergne broke much later and went alongside Bird into turn one but would run out of room pitching him into a spin and at the back of the pack. This had a knock on effect with the rest of the field with much on the front-runners running off wide losing positions. Pascal Wehrlein would be the biggest loser as he would suffer damage after Lucas Di Grassi hit the back of hid Mahindra forcing the German to retire on debut.
Sam Bird would the be leading the two BMW i Andretti cars but would not be able to break away, the pair would then overtake the pole sitter and begin to pull away, it was looking all set for Antonio Felix da Costa to repeat his win from Ad Diriyah.
All the while Di Grassi and Jerome D’Ambrosio joined the fight for 3rd along with Birds teammate Robin Frijns, Di Grassi would be the first to make use of his attack mode and scythed his way past both Virgin cars but would have the favour returned when they activated their attack mode.
The moment of the race happened with just under 10 minutes to go, both Andretti cars were dominating from the front and pulled a substantial lead over the pack but they began racing each other and would both push each other too far, they both locked up when Alexander Sims attempted to pass Da Costa and the Portuguese driver would crash into the barrier with the Brit dropping down to 4th.
This brought out the safety car with it running tight to the end of the race, as in Ad Diriyah most drivers saved their second attack mode in case of a safety car. Jerome D’Ambrosio would lead ahead of the two Virgin cars who both had already used their attack modes.
The safety car came in with the clock down to zero which led to a 1 lap shootout to the end, Sam Bird defended hard from Alexander Sims to protect P3 while Frijns harassed D’Ambrosio to the flag but was not able to pass him. D’Ambrosio would take the chequered flag and the championship lead with it, his first on track win with his previous two coming after disqualifications for Lucas Di Grassi. Here is how the top ten finished:
- Jermome D’Ambrosio Mahindra Racing
- Robin Frijns Envision Virgin Racing Team
- Sam Bird Envision Virgin Racing Team
- Alexander Sims BMW i Andretti Motorsport
- Jean-Eric Vergne DS Techeetah Formula E Team
- Andre Lotterer DS Techeetah Formula E Team
- Lucas Di Grassi Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler
- Sebastien Buemi Nissan e.dams
- Mitch Evans Panasonic Jaguar Racing
- Daniel Abt Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler
Damage limitation for Techeetah:
Once again Techeetah found themselves wondering what could have been with yet another win escaping them, Vergne started P2 and with the pace behind them it would be easy to see them dominate the race but things went wrong for the team in qualifying. Andre Lotterer looked to have the speed of his teammate all day but a costly mistake in qualifying ruined his chances. Lotterer was fastest in his group in the first sector but lost over a second in the second sector and the German would start 20th leaving it all for him to do come the race.
Vergne’s P2 start was promising but he would throw it all away into turn one, he got it wrong and spun sending him to the back of the pack. Both Techeetah cars had to battle their way through the pack racing cars they otherwise wouldn’t, they would finish 5th and 6th but it could have been so easily a 1-2 if it wasn’t for their mistakes.
A terrible start for HWA Racelab:
It has been far from the dream start to the season for debutants HWA, with a Venturi powertrain which is seemingly struggling for pace HWA have been far from competitive. Stoffel Vandoorne qualified an impressive 5th in Ad Diriyah but had such a pace deficit in the race he would finish out of the points. Marrakesh would prove to be a disaster for the ex-Formula One driver, issues in qualifying would prevent him from setting a lap time and come the race he would fail to complete a single lap.
Gary Paffet has been struggling to adjust to Formula E, the DTM champion had moved to the series with high expectations but has struggled to get on terms with his teammate. Retirements in both races haven’t helped Paffet acclimatize either in a season which looks to be a challenge for HWA.
Driver of the Day: Jerome D’Ambrosio
D’Ambrosio is one of Formula E’s most underrated drivers, one of few which have been part of it from the start and one of the most consistent drivers out there. He was calm and faultless, making overtakes with relative ease whilst using the least power. Two podiums from two races and with a team that have shown strong pace for the past few seasons perhaps D’Ambrosio can mount a title challenge this season?
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