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The 2016 Marrakesh ePrix (formally the 2016 FIA Formula E Marrakesh ePrix) was a Formula E electric motor race held on 12 November 2016 at the Circuit Moulay El Hassan in Marrakesh, Morocco in front of a crowd of 7,000 people. It was the second round of the 2016–17 Formula E season and the first time the series had visited the African continent. The 33-lap race was won by e.Dams-Renault driver Sébastien Buemi, who started from the seventh position. Sam Bird finished second for the Virgin team and Mahindra driver Felix Rosenqvist came in third.

2016 Marrakesh ePrix
Race 2 of 12 of the 2016–17 Formula E season
Marrakech Circuit 2016.svg
Race details
Date 12 November 2016
Official name 2016 FIA Formula E Marrakesh ePrix
Location Circuit Moulay El Hassan, Marrakesh, Morocco
Course Street circuit
Course length 2.97 km (1.85 mi)
Distance 33 laps, 98.04 km (60.92 mi)
Weather Sunny; Air 21.5 to 22 °C (70.7 to 71.6 °F), Track 25 to 27.8 °C (77.0 to 82.0 °F)
Attendance 7,000
Pole position
Driver Mahindra
Time 1:21.509
Fastest lap
Driver France Loïc Duval Dragon-Penske
Time 1:22.600 on lap 30
Podium
First e.Dams-Renault
Second Virgin-Citroën
Third Mahindra

Rosenqvist won the pole position by recording the fastest lap in qualifying and maintained his start line advantage on the first lap. He pulled away from the rest of the field and kept the lead until the mandatory round of pit stops when Buemi led for one lap until he made his stop. Rosenqvist regained the lead but was required to conserve his car's electrical energy usage because of him making a pit stop a lap earlier than the rest of the field. This enabled Buemi to narrow the time deficit between the two drivers and he passed Rosenqvist for the lead on the 27th lap. Buemi held it for the remainder of the race to win. There were two lead changes among two different drivers during the course of the race.

It was Buemi's second consecutive victory of the season and his eighth in the series. The result increased Buemi's lead in the Drivers' Championship to 22 points ahead of nearest rival Lucas di Grassi. Buemi's teammate Nico Prost moved from fourth to third, while Rosenqvist's strong finish moved him to fourth place, and Bird rounded out the top five. e.Dams-Renault expanded their Teams' Championship advantage over Audi Sport ABT and Mahindra Racing by 19 points with ten races left in the season.

ReportEdit

BackgroundEdit

In February 2016, Stéphane Roux, the chief organiser of the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC), announced to the local press that Formula E was "keen" to hold a race on the streets of Marrakesh in the "near future".[1] The Marrakesh ePrix was later confirmed as part of Formula E's 2016–17 series schedule in September 2016 by the FIA World Motor Sport Council.[2] It was the inaugural running of the race as part of the FIA Formula E Championship, and the first time that the series had visited the African continent.[3] The Marrakesh ePrix was the second of 12 scheduled single-seater electric car races of the 2016–17 season, and was held on 12 November 2016 at the Circuit Moulay El Hassan.[4] Prior to the ePrix, Formula One had visited Morocco in 1958 for the Moroccan Grand Prix at the Ain-Diab Circuit in Casablanca and the country has held WTCC races since 2009.[1]

Before the race, e.Dams-Renault driver Sébastien Buemi led the Drivers' Championship with 25 points, seven ahead of nearest rival Lucas di Grassi in second and a further three in front of third-placed Nick Heidfeld. Nico Prost was fourth on 12 points, and António Félix da Costa rounded out the top five with ten points.[5] Renault e.Dams were leading the Teams' Championship with 37 points; Audi Sport ABT and Andretti were tied for second place with 18 points each. Mahindra stood in fourth on 16 points, nine ahead of fifth-placed team NextEV.[5] e.Dams-Renault had won the preceding Hong Kong ePrix with Buemi the victor, di Grassi taking second and Heidfeld securing a third-place finish.[5]

Buemi said that was looking forward to competing in Marrakesh but had the knowledge that it would not be easy to repeat his Hong Kong victory. He was aware of how different the two tracks were and said that it would be "exciting" to visit the city for the first time. His team wanted to maximise every detail feasible and Buemi could not wait to drive on the track.[6] Mahindra driver Felix Rosenqvist stated that his objective for the ePrix was to continue the momentum his team built at the season's previous round. He wanted to extract the maximum amount possible from his car's package as soon as he could even at the cost of still learning slightly more about his vehicle. However, he was unsure whether the track's layout suited him because it required a different driving style and rhythm than in Hong Kong.[7]

The layout of the 2.97-kilometre (1.85 mi) long anti-clockwise track was revealed on 17 October.[8] Nelson Piquet Jr. said that he felt it would be a fast circuit because it was purpose-built for motor racing and other series had visited the track before. He described it as seeming like it would be slightly wider and easier along with relying less on driver skill and making competitive racing closer.[9] Heidfeld stated that the track layout would mean the drivers would be challenged on electrical energy management and there would a high chance of a full course yellow flag being shown or a safety car being deployed because of the large amount of barriers lining the circuit.[7] Virgin's José María López, who raced on the track in the WTCC, said it would be "tricky" having been used to touring cars which require more space and it would feel wider with Formula E vehicles but spoke off his feeling there would be plenty of space for overtaking manoeuvres.[9]

Practice and qualifyingEdit

Two practice sessions—both on Saturday morning—were held before the Saturday late afternoon race. The first session ran for 45 minutes; the second for 30 minutes.[10] A shakedown session was held on the Friday before the event where Buemi recorded the fastest lap time of one minute and 30.152 seconds, one second faster than Rosenqvist and Jean-Éric Vergne for Techeetah in second and third.[11] First practice was run in cool weather conditions with low sun because dawn had broken through one hour before.[12] Di Grassi used 200 kilowatts (270 hp) of power during a qualifying simulation lap to go fastest with a one minute and 21.923 seconds lap, almost two-tenths of a second faster than Prost in second. Buemi, Vergne, Félix da Costa, Jérôme d'Ambrosio, Rosenqvist, Mitch Evans, Piquet, and Stéphane Sarrazin rounded out the session's top ten drivers.[13] The full course yellow flag was necessitated when Loïc Duval stopped his Dragon car after five minutes. Evans spun and ran wide at the first turn late in the session, and López damaged his car's suspension after colliding with the turn 11 barrier,[13] causing him to spend most of practice in the pit lane for repairs,[14] but further damage was caused with another hit in the session's closing period.[13] In the second practice session, Buemi was fastest with a lap of one minute and 20.599 seconds; Rosenqvist, Vergne, Oliver Turvey, Duval, Daniel Abt, Piquet, Félix da Costa, di Grassi and Heidfeld followed in the top ten.[15] The session was ended prematurely with three minutes remaining when Bird lost control of the rear of his car, slid into the turn eight barrier, heavily damaging his vehicle's rear, and stopped on the circuit.[15][16]

Saturday afternoon's qualifying session ran for 60 minutes and was divided into four groups of five cars. Each group was determined by a lottery system and was permitted six minutes of on-track activity. All drivers were limited to two timed laps with one at maximum power. The fastest five overall competitors in the four groups participated in a "Super Pole" session with one driver on the track at any time going out in reverse order from fifth to first. Each of the five drivers was limited to one timed lap and the starting order was determined by the competitor's fastest times (Super Pole from first to fifth, and group qualifying from sixth to twentieth). The driver and team who recorded the fastest time were awarded three points towards their respective championships.[10]

 
Felix Rosenqvist (pictured in 2015) had the first pole position in Formula E in his second race in the series.

In the first group of five runners, Prost paced the session, nearly three-tenths of a second faster than Félix da Costa in second, and Lopez third. D'Ambrosio and Ma Qinghua (who was unable to complete a maximum power lap) were the group's two slowest drivers.[17] Buemi was the fastest driver in the second group, half a second ahead of teammate Turvey. Heidfeld, Sarazzin, and Evans rounded out the top five.[17] In the third group, Vergne recorded the overall fastest time of any competitor in the group stages at one minute and 20.993 seconds. Di Grassi qualified 12th overall after narrowly avoiding colliding with the wall between the sixth and seventh turns.[18] His teammate Abt was second quickest in the group, ahead of di Grassi, Maro Engel (Venturi), and Duval (who went wide on his timed lap which was recorded on reduced power).[17] Rosenqvist immediately employed his car's full power capacity and was the fastest driver in the fourth group. He finished ahead of Bird, who equalled Vergne's pace at first, but then his rear tyre made contact with the wall, losing him time.[19] Piquet was third on his fastest lap which saw him make contact with the wall once.[20] Robin Frijns and Adam Carroll (Jaguar) were the fourth group's slowest drivers; Carroll locked his rear tyres and ran wide at the first corner, restricting him to 20th. At the end of group qualifying, Rosenqvist, Vergne, Buemi, Bird and Piquet qualified for super pole.[17]

Piquet was the first driver to attempt his lap in super pole and heavily locked his tyres in turn nine and ran over some kerbs,[18] as well as grazing the wall,[19] qualifying fourth.[17] Bird opted to drive cautiously to achieve an improved balance and took third.[19] Buemi missed the turn one apex but was 0.140 seconds faster to move into provisional pole position.[20] Rosenqvist began his timed lap by going faster than Buemi in the first sector. He drove cleanly in the track's next section, before running smoothly to move into first with a time of one minute and 21.509 seconds.[18] Vergne was unable to set a lap time because an operational error by his team meant he missed the 30-second period to leave the pit lane in order to participate.[17] Hence, Rosenqvist secured his and Mahindra's first pole position in Formula E.[20] After qualifying, Buemi incurred a five-place grid penalty because his car's fire extinguisher was 3.25 kilograms (7.2 lb) underweight because it had been emptied from a possible leak.[21] Buemi was fined €2,500.[22] The rest of the grid lined up after penalties as Abt, Prost, Buemi, Turvey, Frijns, Félix da Costa, Heidfeld, di Grassi, López, Engel, Sarrazin, Evans, d'Ambrosio, Ma, Duval and Carroll.[23]

RaceEdit

 
Lucas di Grassi started 12th and finished fifth.

A special feature of Formula E is the "Fan Boost" feature, an additional 100 kilowatts (130 hp) of power to use in the driver's second car. The three drivers allowed to use the boost were determined by a fan vote.[10] For the Marrakesh race, Abt, Buemi and di Grassi were handed the extra power.[24] Weather conditions at the start of the race were dry and sunny with an air temperature ranging between 21.5 to 22 °C (70.7 to 71.6 °F), and a track temperature between 25 to 27.8 °C (77.0 to 82.0 °F);[23] conditions were expected to remain consistent with no rain forecast.[4] 7,000 people attended the event.[25] When the race started at 16:00 Western European Time (UTC+0),[26] Rosenqvist made a fast getaway to keep his pole position advantage entering the first corner.[27] Bird narrowly kept second place ahead of Piquet and Vergne.[28] Abt attempted to pass a slow-starting Vergne around the outside heading into turn one but both drivers went wide after Piquet locked his tyres and Abt fended off an attack by Prost who was on the inside lane.[29] Heidfeld made a slow start and separated the field into two halves, delaying di Grassi.[30] Engel and Heidfeld struck each other in the first corner, and made further contact two turns later, but both continued without sustaining major damage to their cars.[31] Carroll made the best start in the field, moving from 20th to 17th by the end of the first lap, while his teammate Evans lost four positions over the same distance.[23]

At the end of the first lap, Rosenqvist led followed by: Bird, Piquet, Vergne, Abt, Prost, Buemi, Turvey, Frijns, Félix da Costa, Heidfeld, di Grassi, Engel, López, Sarrazin, d'Ambrosio, Carroll, Duval, Ma, and Evans.[23] Rosenqvist began to pull away from the rest of the field by recording fastest laps to open a two-second advantage over Bird by the start of the fourth lap.[27][28] He informed his team that the dashboard on his steering wheel displayed only one page,[28] limiting the amount of information available to him. Buemi overtook teammate Prost around the outside at turn seven to move into sixth place on the third lap,[27][32] as Heidfeld went wide, allowing di Grassi to pass him for eleventh position, and pulled away from the traffic jam.[23][32] He overtook Frijns for tenth place two laps later. Buemi moved into fifth place after out-braking Abt around the inside for turn ten on lap seven.[23][30] Vergne drafted Piquet on the start-finish straight and the latter locked his tyres with Vergne passing him around the inside at the first corner for third to start the ninth lap. Vergne immediately began to draw closer to Bird.[30][32]

Abt fell to seventh when Prost overtook him at the first corner on lap ten; Abt defended from a large pack of cars. By the twelfth lap, Buemi had more electrical energy available and closed up to Piquet, overtaking him around the inside for fourth position at the seventh turn.[27][32] Félix da Costa's vehicle stopped at turn eight on lap twelve. However, the deployment of a full course yellow flag was avoided when he received radio instructions from his team to perform a full reset, enabling him to rejoin the race.[28] By then, he had dropped to the back of the field, and later became the race's first retiree.[32] Upfront, Rosenqvist held a five-second advantage over Bird by the fourteenth lap,[27] but the latter was being caught by Vergne at a rate of more than four-tenths of a second per lap.[32] Although he had less electrical energy,[24] Vergne caught Bird, who had been backed into Buemi, and moved in front of him for second at the start of the 16th lap with Bird not defending.[32] The mandatory pit stops, during which all drivers needed to change into a second car,[10] began on the same lap. When Rosenqvist and Vergne entered the pit lane[28] Buemi and Bird elected to remain on the circuit for another lap. Buemi was running quicker and overtook Bird at turn eleven on lap 17.[27] He braked late for turn eleven but avoided going off the circuit.[33] Piquet was affected by an electrical problem, ending his chances of finishing in a points-scoring position. Engel stopped with electrical problems after his pit stop, curtailing his race.[32] After the pit stops, Rosenqvist regained the lead, retaining most of his four-second advantage over Vergne. Di Grassi had been passed by Turvey but reclaimed sixth place soon after and started to draw closer to teammate Abt.[27]

 
Sébastien Buemi took his second consecutive victory of the season and his eighth in Formula E.

On lap 20 it was announced that Vergne was under investigation by the stewards after he was observed speeding in the pit lane. He was issued with a drive-through penalty three laps later,[34] ending his chances of battling for the victory.[30] He emerged in fifth place in front of both Audi Sport ABT cars but behind Prost,[32] and Buemi inherited second place.[34] Duval stopped on the track with powertrain problems on the 25th lap but he restarted his car and continued in 18th.[30][34] Having made a pit stop a lap earlier than the rest of the field, Rosenqvist conserved electrical energy usage, allowing Buemi to close up to him at a rate of nearly two seconds per lap because he used FanBoost, had more available electrical energy, and the requirement to lift and coast was minimal.[28][30][34] Abt was demoted to sixth when teammate di Grassi overtook him at the sixth turn on lap 27.[32] Soon after, Buemi drafted Rosenqvist, braked late, and got ahead around the outside at turn eleven to take over the lead.[28][30] López passed Frijns to move into tenth place.[32] Vergne attempted to move past Prost but was unable to overtake, allowing di Grassi to close up.[34] Vergne defended his position, but di Grassi passed him at turn seven to take over fifth place.[32]

Duval recorded the race's fastest lap during the 30th lap, completing a circuit of one minute and 22.600 seconds, earning him one point.[23] Rosenqvist slowed down as he was struggling to conserve his battery's energy usage, allowing Bird to close up.[34] Bird drafted in Rosenqvist's slipstream and overtook him under braking for second place at the eleventh corner on lap 31.[30][32] Rosenqvist continued to focus on preserving electrical energy usage to reach the end.[32] On the final lap, after Piquet locked his brakes, Evans ran wide, drove off the circuit, and hit a barrier lining the track; he was able to continue. Duval stopped his car for the second time on the same lap.[30][34] Buemi held the lead to secure his second successive victory and his eighth career win.[28][34] Bird finished second, ahead of the third-placed Rosenqvist. Prost took fourth, with di Grassi fifth.[27] Abt and Turvey overtook Vergne on the final lap to claim the sixth and seventh positions.[28] Heidfeld and López rounded out the top-ten points scoring positions. Frijns, Sarrazin, d'Ambrosio, Carroll, Ma, Piquet, Evans and Duval were the final classified finishers.[27] There were four lead changes in the race; two drivers reached the front of the field. Rosenqvist's 26 laps led was the highest of any competitor. Buemi led twice for a total of seven laps.[23]

Post-raceEdit

The top three drivers appeared on the podium to collect their trophies and spoke to the media in a later press conference. Buemi was delighted to take the victory, saying both his vehicles were "amazing" and cars' balance was "really good".[35] He stated that his team were aware that his car was efficient and that it needed to take advantage of this after starting the race in a position that he was not expected to be in.[35] Second-place finisher Bird said he was happy that he was able to score points in Marrakesh and felt that being on the podium was like a victory.[35] He revealed that his car did not behave as well as the winner, or the third-position driver, after his second free practice crash and he struggled with his vehicle's balance.[33] Rosenqvist spoke of his shock and expectation at taking his first pole position and podium finish in his second Formula E event. He revealed his team had made the car's package for qualifying up to a good standard, were aware of its fast pace, and were feeling confident about next year's races.[36]

Vergne argued that he could have won the race had he not been observed speeding in the pit lane which he attributed to a defective speed limit button. Describing the situation as "extremely frustrating" he said: "I was quicker than Rosenqvist and Buemi was quite far behind. Then the energy he would have spent to catch me, he would have had no extra energy to pass."[37] Mahindra team principal Dilbagh Gill agreed that Buemi's presence would have delayed Vergne, or caused him to use more additional electrical energy. He said he felt Rosenqvist would have been able to fend off a challenge from Vergne.[37] Engel was disappointed not to finish; he claimed he would have finished in the top-ten had problems not affected his car and revealed his team had changed his vehicle's battery in the morning: "Our race pace was strong and the energy management was good so I was looking forward to the second stint but it never really came."[31] e.Dams-Renault team principal Jean-Paul Driot revealed that Buemi's five-place grid penalty had been a sporting regulation safety violation, which they had no control over. He spoke of his belief that two wires detached after Buemi ran over a kerb in qualifying.[38]

The result increased Buemi's lead in the Drivers' Championship to 22 points in front of second-placed di Grassi, who in turn, was a further four points ahead of Prost in third position. Rosenqvist's strong finish moved him to fourth place on 19 points, with Bird a close fifth on 18.[5] e.Dams-Renault's strong first and fourth-place finishes extended their Teams' Championship advantage over Audi Sport ABT to 38 points ahead, although the latter tied with Mahindra. Virgin moved into fourth, while Andretti fell from equal second to fifth with ten races left in the season.[5]

ClassificationEdit

QualifyingEdit

Pos. No. Driver Team Time Gap Grid
1 19   Felix Rosenqvist Mahindra 1:21.509 1
2 9   Sébastien Buemi e.Dams-Renault 1:21.546 +0.037 71
3 2   Sam Bird Virgin-Citröen 1:21.686 +0.177 2
4 3   Nelson Piquet Jr. NextEV NIO 1:23.879 +2.370 3
5 25   Jean-Éric Vergne Techeetah-Renault 42
6 66   Daniel Abt Audi Sport ABT 1:21.725 5
7 8   Nico Prost e.Dams-Renault 1:21.777 +0.052 6
8 88   Oliver Turvey NextEV NIO 1:21.853 +0.128 8
9 27   Robin Frijns Andretti-BMW 1:21.912 +0.187 9
10 28   António Félix da Costa Andretti-BMW 1:22.073 +0.348 10
11 23   Nick Heidfeld Mahindra 1:22.074 +0.349 11
12 11   Lucas di Grassi Audi Sport ABT 1:22.081 +0.356 12
13 37   José María López Virgin-Citröen 1:22.133 +0.408 13
14 5   Maro Engel Venturi 1:22.236 +0.511 14
15 4   Stéphane Sarrazin Venturi 1:22.270 +0.545 15
16 20   Mitch Evans Jaguar 1:22.355 +0.630 16
17 7   Jérôme d'Ambrosio Dragon-Penske 1:22.681 +0.956 17
18 33   Ma Qinghua Techeetah-Renault 1:23.248 +1.493 18
19 6   Loïc Duval Dragon-Penske 1:23.933 +2.208 19
20 47   Adam Carroll Jaguar 1:25.695 +3.970 20
Source:[23]

Notes:

RaceEdit

Pos. No. Driver Team Laps Gap/Retired Grid Points
1 9   Sébastien Buemi e.Dams-Renault 33 47:40.840 7 25
2 2   Sam Bird Virgin-Citröen 33 +2.457 2 18
3 19   Felix Rosenqvist Mahindra 33 +7.195 1 183
4 8   Nico Prost e.Dams-Renault 33 +11.586 6 12
5 11   Lucas di Grassi Audi Sport ABT 33 +13.771 12 10
6 66   Daniel Abt Audi Sport ABT 33 +18.233 5 8
7 88   Oliver Turvey NextEV NIO 33 +21.710 8 6
8 25   Jean-Éric Vergne Techeetah-Renault 33 +28.011 4 4
9 23   Nick Heidfeld Mahindra 33 +33.699 11 2
10 37   José María López Virgin-Citröen 33 +33.863 13 1
11 27   Robin Frijns Andretti-BMW 33 +37.092 9
12 4   Stéphane Sarrazin Venturi 33 +40.683 15
13 7   Jérôme d'Ambrosio Dragon-Penske 33 +42.034 17
14 47   Adam Carroll Jaguar 33 +49.026 20
15 33   Ma Qinghua Techeetah-Renault 33 +50.433 18
16 3   Nelson Piquet Jr. NextEV NIO 33 +75.452 3
17 16   Mitch Evans Jaguar 32 +1 Lap 16
18 6   Loïc Duval Dragon-Penske 30 +3 Laps 19 14
Ret 5   Maro Engel Venturi 26 Electrical 14
Ret 28   António Félix da Costa Andretti-BMW 21 Battery 10
Source:[39]
Notes:
  • ^3  — Three points for pole position.[23]
  • ^4  — One point for fastest lap.[23]

Standings after the raceEdit

  • Notes: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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