Da Costa Wins At The Marrakesh E-Prix - A Weekend Conspectus
The 2020 Marrakesh E-Prix sought all different types of stories as drivers battled closely to the finish whilst in the pursuit of maintaining enough energy, all whilst there was no safety car/ Full-Course-Yellow period; the only yellow flag was caused by a retirement of BMW i Andretti Motorsport's Alexander Sims.
This report will closely detail what that race weekend was all about.
The final race results from the 2020 Marrakesh E-Prix (Image Credit: ABB Formula E/Twitter).
António achieved his first victory with the team (Image Credit: ABB Formula E/Twitter).
DS Techeetah's António Félix da Costa illustrated strong pace with his DS E-TENSE FE-20 car topped the Super Pole qualifying timesheets with a time of 1:17.158, also being the only driver who made it in the undesirable 'Group 1'.
Having achieved pole position, he went onto dominate the race after briefly fighting BMW i Andretti Motorsport's Max Guenther.
Da Costa had desired a win for his new venture for the team following in-team confusions as the DS Techeetah drivers pushed their cars, but not with the team in particular consideration.
Eventually at the Mexico City E-Prix (Round 4), they were entangled with team orders as they swapped positions whilst Sebastian Buemi in P2 (for the Nissan e.Dams team) built up a gap ahead.
Even though da Costa later caught up to Buemi to take P2, utilising the sheer pace of him and the car, they missed out on a chance on possibly closing down on the the dominant drive from Panasonic Jaguar Racing's Mitch Evans.
Over the past 9 races of ABB Formula E (overlapping to the previous season), there have been 9 different winners (Image Credit: ABB Formula E).
At Marrakesh, da Costa was able to assert the compelling pace that his car had to claim a first win for the team, with team-mate Jean Eric Vergne also getting onto the podium with a climb from P11 to P3.
Now leading the drivers' standings, da Costa and Vergne will look to put any team difficulties behind as the DS Techeetah team look to defend their crown as reigning Teams' and Drivers' champions.
Mark Preston, Team Principle at the DS Techeetah team said: “I can’t say much more than how proud I am of our drivers and the whole team today."
"Relentless efforts from everyone has put us in the lead of both championships and have put JEV back in a place to fight for another championship title."
"Now we need to make sure we continue riding this wave all the way to London and the final rounds of the Season Six championship."
da Costa lead a redemption in relation to his time last year at the Marrakesh E-Prix (Image Credit: Lou Johnson/Spacesuit Media obtained via Twitter).
Jean Eric Vergne, who finished in P3 said: “This was definitely my most difficult weekend in Formula E."
"Nevertheless, the team did a very good job preparing the car, so I felt like I was in a good place when I jumped in this morning after missing FP1 yesterday."
"I did a good qualifying lap despite the circumstances, only three tenths off and in the race, I just went for it."
"At some point I asked my engineer about my position and I couldn’t believe I was up in P4 by then, the race just flew by and it’s so good to finally be back on the podium but now I will need some time to recover before the next race.”
Speaking of strong climbs up the field, it would not go amiss to mention Mitch Evans of the Panasonic Jaguar Racing team to have climbed up from P24 to P6.
He left last time out in Mexico City as the championship leader when he lead a commanding drive, leading every lap from Turn 1 - Lap 1.
The pressure was placed for Evans and Panasonic Jaguar Racing, who had shown an impressive turn of speed, performance and reliability on their car for Season 6.
Evans was specifically a driver to watch as he had shown natural talent and an ability to take the most out of his car.
He started qualifying on the back-foot, as the team made a miscalculation resulting in Evans not even participating in his 'Group 1' session.
He had exited the pitlane at a similar time to Antonio Felix da Costa, but appeared to fall back during the final phase of his out-lap.
Furthermore, he crossed the timing line twice whilst the track was under chequered flag conditions; this violated Article 33.3 of the Sporting Regulations, but was nevertheless spared a reprimand .
Despite starting in last on the grid, he proceeded to gradually climb up the field taking advantage of the 'Attack Mode' and his swift pace in order to find himself in P6 by the end, thus maintaining a P2 in the drivers' standings.
Evans claimed the fastest lap of the race (inside the top 10 finishers) to claim the extra point, with a time of 1:20.737 on lap 27.
Pascal Wehrlein of Mahindra Racing set the fastest lap of 1:20.345 on lap 29, but was not in the top 10 to claim the extra point.
Aother strong performance was of Jean Eric Vergne of the DS Techeetah team.
JEV had not only missed out on Free Practice 1 on the day before relative to an illness involving severe headaches.
A lack of on-track action as well as his clearly poorly status meant that he would not be able to match himself against his teammate and pole-sitter da Costa.
Starting in P11 (just outside the points), he set off onto soon battling out with Formula E rookie and the youngest winner (at Santiago this season), Maximillian Guenther for BMW i Andretti Motorsport.
The rookie and the two-time champion eventually fought closely back-and-forth for 15 minutes straight, unclear who would take P2.
After a series of attacking and defensive moves from both, Guenther managed to 'dummy' his way past Vergne on the penultimate corner as he took advantage of a gap momentarily opened by JEV.
Regardless of this last-lap action, Vergne had put on a show as he brought home an unexpected podium finish.
Towards the end of the race, many of the front running drivers were confronted by a tight margin of energy on which to finish on, as JEV could hold P2 no longer as Guenther had a 1% higher SOC (state of charge) to use.
Through tactically using Guenther's slipstream to save energy, he was able to maintain the close proximity they had.
Beginning with any significant penalties applied pre-race, Robin Frijns of the Envision Virgin Racing team and Neel Jani of the Tag Heur Porsche team were forced to the back of the grid for the race.
Frijns made it from P22 to P12, a climb of ten places but describes the penalty as "utter bullshit."
With the power output from his Audi e-tron FE06's battery "not respecting the homologated throttle pedal map", in a violation of Article 3.1 of the Technical Regulations; he was stripped of his best laptime to fall back on a respective (out-lap) time of 1:27.444.
He said that the infraction was caused by a power spike that lasted "milliseconds" after the impact with the wall at the left-hander of Turn-10.
The FIA recognises that the power spike happened seconds prior to the contact with the wall.
Conclusively, the hit itself should not be seen as a mitigating circumstance, as disagreed by Envision Virgin Racing.
According to sources at Autosport, the team managing director of Envision Virgin Racing Sylvain Filippi expressed how "it's triggered by oscillation so it's nothing to do with us (the team)."
"We are not requesting more power - It's just the way these powertrains work."
Mercedes Benz EQ's chances of a strong result were dismissed by Stoffel Vandoorne's difficulties adapting the car to the circuit, and for reigning Formula 2 Champion Nyck de Vries as he was given a drive-through-penalty for 'regen overuse' that then pushed him to the back of the grid; he finished in P11, just outside the points.
Despite the fact that this was one of the cleanest races in a while in Formula E, with the lack of a safety car/full-course-yellow period during the 45 mins plus one lap of the race.
Unfortunately a last-lap incident uncovered by the broadcast (relative to the intense battle for P2), saw Sims' P5 thrown away due to a driveshaft failure.
On the approach to Turn-7, he made contact with ROKiT Venturi Racing's Eduardo Mortara at the braking zone which inevitably led to the terminal failure of the driveshaft, a similar ending back at the Santiago E-Prix.
They were both at 2%, within the wider challenge of having enough SOC to get to the checkered flag.
Following a few days being ill poor to the race, having been looked at by the FIA doctors and then also being quarantined in hospital, in precaution to the 'Coronavirus-like' symptoms.
He tested negative for Coronavirus/COVID-19, a relief in that he would be able to race without creating a dangerous risk towards others up and down the paddock.
Sever headaches and migraines aside, he persevered on to qualify P11 on the grid and finish on the podium in P3.
Praised highly by his teammate da Costa and the DS Techeetah team, he described it as "definately my most difficult weekend in Formula E," in a post-race press conference.
Da Costa shoots himself to the top of the drivers' standings (Image Credit: ABB Formula E).
A double podium allows DS Techeetah to take the lead of the teams' standings (Image Credit: ABB Formula E).
The Annual Rookie Test...
A total of 24 drivers took part in the rookie test, with some having made previous appearances (Image Credit: ABB Formula E)
On Sunday 1st March, the day after the race, the only in-season testing took place at the Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan, with a total of two sessions lasting three hours each set throughout the day (6 hours in total).
(Image Credit: ABB Formula E)
Twenty-five year old Nick Cassidy, a Kiwi best known for his Super GT career and as also one of the most successful drivers to have raced in the Toyota Racing (single-seater) Series, set a track record of 1:16.467 for Envision Virgin Racing.
In relation to the tarmac 'rubbering down', the Super Formula Champion set a time that would have put him above António Félix da Costa's pole lap by nearly seven-tenths of a second.
(Image Credit: Felipe Albuquerque/Twitter)
Kelvin van der Linde, Mattia Drudi drove for Audi Sport ABT Shaeffler in the rookie test (Image Credit: Audi Media Center).
We end another exciting weekend of Formula E with another winner of this season, alongside a number of rookie drivers that were able to drive the Gen2 cars in testing.
Due to the cancellation of the Sanya E-Prix, in relation to the Coronavirus outbreak, the next race will proceed over a month's time on the 4th April for the 2020 GEOX Rome E-Prix.
Viewers of the United Kingdom can watch all of the action from the shakedown, practice and qualifying sessions, as well as the actual race on BBC iPlayer/BBC Button.
Just like the Marrakesh E-Prix, the Rome E-Prix will be exclusively broadcasted on BBC Two as well as on iPlayer, and will be presented by Jennie Gow and co.
It is worth mentioning the uncertainty surrounding the rest of the calendar due to the Coronavirus, meaning that the Rome E-Prix and more may be adjusted or cancelled.
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