Katy Fairman looks at what we learned during an entertaining Marrakesh E-Prix…
A RECORD-BREAKING RACE
With António Félix da Costa taking his first win of the season, he helps break a new Formula E record. The all-electric championship has managed to have nine different winners in nine consecutive races, including those from both season five and six.
The list, which in order includes Lucas di Grassi, Jean-Eric Vergne, Robin Frijns, Sébastien Buemi, Sam Bird, Alexander Sims, Maximilian Günther and the winner last time out in Mexico, Mitch Evans, proves just how competitive the field is in this second generation of Formula E.
Da Costa’s win is also his first with his new team DS Techeetah. He put on a very dominant display by clinching pole position earlier in the day and won the race by 11.427s; the third biggest winning-margin seen in six seasons of the championship.
VERGNE BATTLES ILLNESS TO REACH PODIUM
Jean-Eric Vergne missed Friday’s running due to an intense migraine and flu-like symptoms but after a trip to the hospital, was cleared to take part on Saturday. He started the race from 11th position but, in one of the drives of his Formula E career, stormed through the field to grab the final podium position.
This third place did look at one point to be a 1-2 finish for Techeetah, however, Santiago E-Prix winner Günther pulled off an incredible overtake to snatch back second place in the final stages of the E-Prix.
During his absence from the track yesterday, Vergne took to social media to explain his symptoms and that he was feeling “much better”. He even shared that he had been tested for coronavirus but the results came back negative.
Although he returned to his Techeetah car today, it was clear the current and two-time drivers’ champion was struggling, and after removing himself from his car he looked visibly exhausted. On-track, however, he pulled off some phenomenal moves which for many made him their driver of the day.
EVANS FIGHTS BACK FROM LAST TO SIXTH
Mitch Evans continues to be a title threat despite starting at the back of the grid following a miscalculation in qualifying earlier on in the day. The Kiwi, who drives for Jaguar Racing, won last time out in Mexico after a hugely dominant performance and left Mexico as the championship leader.
Although he no longer holds that position, as da Costa has now taken the lead of the championship, he’s been dubbed by many as being a serious threat to take his maiden drivers’ title this year.
Jaguar have made big improvements year on year since joining the championship, and although Evans’ team-mate James Calado is still getting used to being the rookie in the team, the car looks competitive and fast. Evans is known to be one of the brightest talents in the championship, however, he hasn’t had the car as yet in his Formula E career to back this up. Now Jaguar seem able to provide him with a car that allows him to battle up front, the championship title will certainly be in his sights now.
Today he started at the back of the grid, but a series of impressive overtakes and strategy calls mean Evans finished the race in a remarkable sixth position. Something that he and the team should be very proud of, especially given that there were no yellow flags or safety cars along the way to help him climb up the field.
THE BIG PLAYERS CONTINUE TO STRUGGLE
Although they’ve shown sparks of competitiveness, some of the big manufacturers have struggled this season to get their year off the ground. The likes of Audi’s Allan McNish explained they still had “a little bit of work to do” after the race, but other teams such as Porsche and Mercedes have also not been achieving the results they desire as of late.
Mercedes started the season strongly with a string of podiums and Stoffel Vandoorne led the championship early on, but during today’s race, their performance was less impressive. They failed to score points for the second consecutive race, with Nyck de Vries finishing up 11th due to an early drive-through penalty as a result of overpowering during regen. Vandoorne was baffled with his lack of pace after the race having finished down in 15th.
Porsche driver Andre Lotterer looked set for a better weekend after his disastrous race last time out in Mexico City, but he soon fell back into the field. The German manufacturer, making their debut in the championship this season, have shown glimmers of potential in qualifying, but once again failed to deliver on that once the race began.
It should also be noted that Neel Jani endured another difficult weekend, and is yet to score a point, seven races into his Formula E career.
NOT MUCH MADNESS IN MARRAKESH
Formula E has developed a reputation for being a bit bonkers. Races are often compared to a big game of bumper cars, but during the Marrakesh E-Prix everything remained fairly neutral and there was no need for a safety car which is quite a rare occurrence in this championship.
The only yellow flag waved came during the final moments of the E-Prix when BMW’s Alexander Sims was forced to pull over to the side of the track following contact with Edoardo Mortara. The lack of chaos we’ve become so accustomed to meant 23 out of the 24 cars ended up being classified at the chequered flag – another new record for the championship.