2019 Marrakesh ePrix
The 2019 Marrakesh ePrix (formally the 2019 Marrakesh E-Prix) was a Formula E electric car race held at the Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan in the Agdal district of Marrakesh, Morocco on 12 January 2019. It was the second round of the 2018–19 Formula E season and the third edition of the event. Jérôme d'Ambrosio of Mahindra won the 31-lap race after starting from tenth place. Second place went to Virgin's Robin Frijns and his teammate Sam Bird was third.
|2019 Marrakesh ePrix|
|Race 2 of 13 of the 2018–19 Formula E season|
|Date||12 January 2019|
|Official name||2019 Marrakesh E-Prix|
|Location||Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan, Agdal, Marrakesh|
|Course length||2.971 kilometres (1.846 mi)|
|Distance||31 laps, 92.101 km (57.229 mi)|
|Driver||Envision Virgin Racing|
|Driver||Lucas di Grassi||Audi|
|Time||1:20.296 on lap 31|
|Second||Envision Virgin Racing|
|Third||Envision Virgin Racing|
Bird won the pole position by setting the fastest lap in qualifying and held the lead despite Techeetah's Jean-Éric Vergne clattering into his left-hand sidepod and spinning 180 degrees at the first corner on the first lap. António Félix da Costa of BMW Andretti passed Bird to move into first place on lap ten and he pulled away to lead the following fourteen laps until a collision on lap 26 between him and his teammate Alexander Sims careened him into a barrier beside the circuit. That promoted d'Ambrosio into the lead which he led through a safety car period and held off Frijns on the final lap to win by 0.143 seconds. It was d'Ambrosio's third victory of his career and his first without having inherited the win through driver disqualifications.
D'Ambrosio's victory put him in the lead of the Drivers' Championship with 40 points. Félix da Costa fell to second and Vergne dropped to third as he recovered to finish fifth. Vergne's teammate André Lotterer advanced from fifth to fourth and Frijns moved from twelfth to fifth. In the Teams' Championship, Techeetah led with 47 points, Mahindra and BMW tied on points (40) and Virgin progressed to fourth with eleven races left in the season.
The Marrakesh ePrix was confirmed as part of the 2018–19 Formula E season schedule by the FIA World Motor Sport Council in October 2018. It was the second of thirteen scheduled single-seater electric car races of the 2018–19 season, and third annual edition of the event. The ePrix was held at the 2.97 km (1.85 mi) anti-clockwise twelve-turn semi-permanent Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan street circuit in the Agdal district of the Moroccan capital of Marrakesh on 12 January. The track has a large amount of technicality which requires teams to develop their spring rates, anti-roll bar, car ride height and vehicle chassis configuration to develop the maximum amount of mechanical grip. It was unaltered from the previous year's race with the mandatory attack mode activation zone situated on the outside of turn three and the timing loops were made visible to drivers. The driver adviser to the stewards was former Trulli GP driver Vitantonio Liuzzi.
After winning the season-opening Ad Diriyah ePrix four weeks earlier, BMW Andretti driver António Félix da Costa led the Drivers' Championship with 28 points, ahead of his nearest rival Jean-Éric Vergne of Techeetah in second who had a total of 18 points, and Mahindra's Jérôme d'Ambrosio who was in the third position with 15 points. With 12 points, Mitch Evans for Jaguar was in fourth place and Vergne's teammate André Lotterer rounded out the top five with 10 points. In the Teams' Championship, Techeetah led with 29 points; BMW Andretti were a further point behind in second. Mahindra, Jaguar and e.Dams-Nissan in positions three through five were all separated by a solitary point between each other. The race saw the introduction of a mandated winglet on the roll hoop of all cars, next to the television camera. The addition comes after some teams lobbied the series so they could free up space on the hoop's side for commercial partners.
Following a software-related drive-through penalty that lost him a potential victory in Ad Diriyah, Vergne said he was eager to demonstrate his team had the fastest car in Marrakesh, "Being so close to the victory in the first round has left me very hungry for more, and it’s what my focus is all about right now, Marrakesh hasn’t been a good track for us in the past so I’m hoping that we can change that and leave Morocco on a high note this year. It still a very long way to go and we know that we need to continue to be razor sharp for the rest of the season." D'Ambrosio stated his belief that he could achieve another podium finish in Marrakesh and aimed to continue improving his performance and maintain Mahindra's strong record at the track, "It’s a challenging street circuit and, while it hasn’t been the best track for me over the past two years, I’m going to make sure that I change that and I’m looking forward to having a good race this weekend."
The second in-season rookie test was scheduled to be held at the circuit the day after the ePrix. Teams were required to field two drivers who were not in possession of an e-licence at the time of the test. There was one driver change going into the race. Having missed the Ad Diriyah ePrix because his Mercedes-Benz contract barred him from driving with any other team until 31 December 2018 as he was required to undertake a number of pre-requisites, 2015 Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters champion Pascal Wehrlein replaced the outgoing Felix Rosenqvist at Mahindra as the latter moved to Chip Ganassi Racing's IndyCar Series team for 2019. Wehrlein spent the week before the race at Mahindra's simulator in Banbury as part of his preparation. He said watching the season's previous round and him being provided with data from Mahindra helped and he stated his belief that Mahindra would achieve their desired results, "Everyone had compromised preparations so everyone was going a bit into the unknown but what is good is that we have a good baseline and we can challenge near the front so it is a positive start."
Two practice sessions—both on Saturday morning—were held before the late afternoon race. The first session ran for 45 minutes and the second for half an hour. In the first practice session, which was initially held under darkness and cold weather conditions with drivers struggling to get tyre temperature before the sun rose, Robin Frijns of Virgin was fastest with a lap of 1 minute and 17.808 seconds, followed by Félix da Costa, Bird, Nissan's Oliver Rowland, Oliver Turvey for NIO, the Jaguar duo of Evans and Nelson Piquet Jr., Alexander Sims for BMW Andretti, Sebastien Buemi in the second Nissan and Vergne. During the session, where drivers locked their tyres due to them fine-tuning their brake-by-wire systems, several competitors ran deep onto the turn seven run-off area because they braked later than usual. Evans avoided contact with a barrier beside the circuit, and his teammate Piquet swerved to avoid hitting Venturi's Felipe Massa who made a late decision to enter the pit lane. With thirteen minutes remaining, Wehrlein's car briefly switched off at turn ten and the session was red flagged as he reset his car to enable his return to the pit lane.
The second practice session was held in warmer weather conditions and teams became cautious with their tyres as cooling for the Spark SRT05e between second practice and qualifying was prioritised due to the car's predominantly larger enclosed cockpit. Evans led with an early benchmark lap which Frijns improved in the final ten minutes. Lotterer then bettered Frijns' lap before Evans ran with 250 kW (340 hp) of power to set a 1-minute and 17.762 seconds lap to go fastest. He was 0.242 seconds faster than Lotterer in second and Buemi improved to third. Félix da Costa, Frijns, Rowland, José María López for Dragon, Turvey, Vergne, and Sims completed the top ten ahead of qualifying. As the session passed relatively peacefully, drivers again locked their brakes into turn seven. As Massa activated 250 kW (340 hp) mode, his car shut down on the start/finish straight; he restarted it through engineer assistance him over the radio. Massa's powertrain was subsequently replaced and Lucas di Grassi's Audi had a water pump change.
Saturday's 75-minute afternoon qualifying session was divided into two groups of five cars and two groups of six entries. 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 six 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.
The SRT05e was three seconds a lap faster than the Spark-Renault SRT 01E in the first qualifying session to have a direct comparison between the two cars because the preceding Ad Diriyah event was heavily affected by rain. In group one, Félix da Costa was fastest, ahead of Vergne, Evans, d'Ambrosio and Lotterer after a driver error at turn seven; he was the fastest driver in the first sector. Buemi led the second session with Piquet joining him as the two drivers to enter the top six. Di Grassi had an untidy lap and was third in the group, followed by Rowland. Abt was group two's slowest driver as he lost a large amount of time in the second sector. In the third group, Bird set the fastest overall time in group qualifying at 1 minute and 17.851 seconds despite a minor error in the first turn. His teammate Frijns was second and provisionally sixth overall. The NIO pair of Turvey and Dillmann were third and fourth. Dragon's Maximilian Günther was fifth after hitting a bump on a kerb on the exit to turn six, going airborne briefly, and crashed into the side of a trackside barrier. Stoffel Vandoorne's HWA shut down halfway through his maximum power lap as he looked set to enter the top ten and was slowest overall.
After group three ended, Dillmann's car had a sudden brake failure on his way to parc fermé in the pit lane and he had to decide whether to hit the rear of Frijns' car or a track marshal. He elected to hit Frijns, which caused a chain reaction incident that sent him into the rear of his teammate Bird's vehicle. Bird sustained rear diffuser damage; parc fermé regulations dictated any repairs made to his vehicle would send him to the rear of the grid. In group four, Sims was fastest and he advanced to super pole. He demoted Wehrlein to seventh on the overall grid after the Mahindra driver ran over the kerbs at the final corner. López was third; the Venturi duo of Massa and Edoardo Mortara placed fourth and fifth. HWA's Gary Paffett was slowest in group four because of a heavy understeer in turn one and electrical energy issues. After group qualifying, Buemi, Sims, Félix da Costa, Vergne and Evans progressed to super pole. Bird took the fifth pole position of his career and his first since the second 2017 New York City ePrix race with a 1-minute and 17.489 seconds lap. He was joined on the grid's front row by Vergne who recorded a mistake-free lap that was 0.046 seconds slower. Félix da Costa had an untidy lap and set the third-fastest lap. Buemi was smooth and took fourth and Sims qualified fifth. Sixth-placed Evans locked his front tyres heavily on the approach to turn seven and ran deep onto the run off-area.
After qualifying, Félix da Costa was demoted three places on the starting grid because he was adjudged to have exceeded the maximum amount of permitted electrical power on his non-timed lap at 204.92 kW (274.80 hp) because of a temporary spike. Hence, the grid lined up after penalties as Bird, Vergne, Buemi, Sims, Evans, Félix da Costa, Wehrlein, Frijns, Piquet, d'Ambrosio, di Grassi, Rowland, López, Turvey, Massa, Abt, Mortara, Dillmann, Paffett, Lotterer, Günther and Vandoorne.
The race began at 16:03 Central European Time (UTC+01:00). Weather conditions at the start were hot and clear and the air temperature ranged from 20.25 to 20.95 °C (68.45 to 69.71 °F) and the track temperature was between 18.3 and 20 °C (64.9 and 68.0 °F); a 20% chance of rain was forecast. Each driver was mandated to activate the attack mode system twice and were permitted to arm the system no more than five times. A special feature of Formula E is the "Fan Boost" feature, an additional 25 kW (34 hp) of power to use during the race's second half. The five drivers who were allowed to use the boost were determined by a fan vote. For the Marrakesh race, Vandoorne, Félix da Costa, Massa, Buemi, Wehrlein were handed the extra power. Bird made a good getaway and Buemi drew alongside the fractionally slower Vergne entering the first corner. As he turned to the inside line to block Vergne, it appeared Bird would lead comfortably. Vergne lunged at Bird at a high amount of speed on the inside run-off area and clattered into Bird's left-hand sidepod on the turn one apex. That caused a small titanium television camera from Vergne's car to detach and lodge itself in the aperture of Bird's left-hand sidepod. Vergne spun 180 degrees, and several drivers swerved to avoid his car.
Wehrlein's suspension, diffuser, rear tyre bearing and rims were damaged when di Grassi misjudged his braking point for the first turn and rammed into him. An attempt to continue driving proved impossible and entered the pit lane to retire. Additionally, Paffett and his HWA teammate Vandoorne were unsighted because of smoke emitted from Vergne's spin, and the two made contact with each other's sidepods in the same area, causing Vandoorne to retire with a broken suspension at the end of the first lap and Paffett sustained a slow rear-left puncture. Turvey moved from sixteenth to seventh by the end of the first lap while Vergne's spin dropped him to nineteenth and Buemi fell to fourteenth. At the start of lap two, Buemi got past Evans around the inside on the run to turn one for thirteenth. Lotterer passed Evans soon after and then overtook Buemi into the turn five and six chicane. On the third lap, a brief yellow flag was waved as Paffett spun exiting the chicane as the slow puncture deteriorated and he retired. Félix da Costa passed his teammate Sims on the inside line at turn three for the second position on the following lap. On lap seven, Günther activated the attack mode, passing Dillmann, Vergne and Massa over the next four laps.
That confirmed to the field that the attack mode was a huge advantage without losing a large amount of time during activation, with a steady trickle of drivers activating the system over the following few laps. In the meantime, Félix da Costa put pressure on Bird for the lead as he appeared faster than Bird. On lap ten, Turvey was overtaken by López around the inside for seventh on the approach to turn one. That lap, Félix da Costa attempted to pass Bird for the lead on the inside into turn eleven, which Bird blocked and Félix da Costa's right-rear corner hit Bird's left-rear quarter; both continued without any car damage. On the eleventh lap, Félix da Costa tried again going into the turn four and five chicane, and was successful, moving past Bird around the inside as the latter cut the corner under braking. Sims got an advantage to overtake Bird and took second on the straight entering the eighth turn. Abt used the attack mode to get past López on the entry to turn one on lap 12 but López responded by doing the same two laps later. On lap 14, d'Ambrosio went to the inside to pass di Grassi into turn seven for fifth. That prompted Virgin to allow Frijns to take third from his teammate Bird entering turn seven on lap 15. Bird blocked d'Ambrosio from overtaking him for fourth on the outside into turn eleven.
On lap 16, di Grassi activated the attack mode, as d'Ambrosio successfully overtook Bird to move into fourth going into turn eleven, before the latter lost fifth to di Grassi on the start/finish straight. During the 17th lap, d'Ambrosio and d'Grassi got ahead of Frijns at turns seven and on the straight linking turns turn and eleven to demote him to fifth. Di Grassi began to pressure d'Ambrosio as Bird activated the attack mode; he fell to seventh behind López on the following lap. Bird however immediately regained sixth from López entering the turn four and five chicane. As the pack began to close up to the BMWs, Félix da Costa and Sims activated their first attack modes on the 19th lap in an attempt to increase their lead. Frijns and Bird used their second attack mode activation on lap 23, with the two passing di Grassi at the end of the lap, motivated by Vergne advancing to sixth. Furthermore, as he caught the battle for third, they were gaining on the BMWs, resulting in a lead change with ten minutes left. Around this time, BMW Andretti team principal Roger Griffiths liaised with its senior engineering team to consider allowing Sims to pass his teammate Félix da Costa for the lead because he was the faster driver and had better electrical energy management.
But, approaching turn seven on the 26th lap, Sims challenged his teammate Félix da Costa for first on the outside line as both drivers locked their brakes. This resulted in Félix da Costa sliding wide and he made contact with the front-left quarter of Sims's car, who had regained control; he could not avoid the former and their front wings interlocked. Félix da Costa careened into a right-side tyre wall and retired. Sims made it through the corner; he fell from second to fourth. D'Ambrosio moved into first with Frijns second and his teammate Bird third. To recover Félix da Costa's car, the race director Scot Elkins ordered the safety car's deployment with seven minutes remaining. All drivers, except for Sims and di Grassi, activated their second attack modes three minutes later in anticipation the safety car would be withdrawn later than planned than had been anticipated by the remainder of the field. It proved to so as the safety car stayed on the track until 20 seconds were left and Sims and di Grassi used their second attack modes beforehand.
On the final lap, d'Ambrosio locked his tyres at the final corner and held off Frijns to win the race. It was d'Ambrosio's third career victory, his first since the 2016 Mexico City ePrix, and his first on-track win after his previous two came via technical disqualifications involving di Grassi. Frijns was 0.147 seconds behind in second and took the best finish of his career at the time, besting his prior best result of third in the 2015 Putrajaya ePrix. His teammate Bird finished third. Off the podium, Sims took fourth, Vergne completed his recovery to finish fifth and his teammate Lotterer sixth. Di Grassi finished seventh and earned one additional point for setting the race's fastest lap on the final lap (31), a 1-minute and 20.296 seconds. Buemi and Evans were the highest-placed finishers of their respective teams in eighth and ninth. Abt rounded out the top ten. The final finishers were López, Günther, Mortara, Piquet, Rowland, Turvey, Dillmann and Massa.
The top three drivers appeared on the podium to collect their trophies and spoke to the media in a later press conference. D'Ambrosio was euphoric over taking his third career victory, "This is a real win, I fought hard for it and I'm really happy. I've been here since the start [of the series] and I've been fighting to be in this position. Last year we had some tough moments and I'm happy I can pay the team back like this." Frijns said he was regretful he did not challenge d'Ambrosio harder for the win on the final lap. He commented on the importance of his second-place finish for the Virgin team, "At one point, I was like, 'Shall I go for it at Turn 10?' and then I was like, 'Yeah, but we are P2, Sam [team-mate Sam Bird] is P3 and I'm not going to be a bully that drives over Jerome and doesn't finish at all'. I think it's smart to not do it at the beginning of the season - just to score the points." Third-placed Bird said the camera from Vergne's car lodged in his car possibility affected its handling, "I didn’t know too much about the move from Vergne at the start and from there on I suspect it may have caused a slight issue with the car as we didn’t have the pace we had seen earlier. Nevertheless, it was an amazing result for the team and we did a great job in qualifying."
BMW Andretti personnel convened immediately after the race to discuss the collision with Félix da Costa and Sims. Félix da Costa apologised to all the members of his team and expressed contrite for the accident to the press and conceded Sims was faster than him, "I'm sorry - that's a mistake and a mistake coming from me only, [It's] terribly frustrating in this story because we lost a win, we lost a one-two, and even if it was just me, Alex could have won the race. But because of that, I denied him the win, denied the team a one-two. I'm feeling very bad for myself." Sims attributed the contact to an inter-team communication breakdown and refused to apportion blame. He additionally stated to the media he did not wish to challenge Félix da Costa because he was conserving electrical energy and was attempting to maintain the gap over the rest of the field. Jens Marquardt, director of BMW Motorsport, asserted any similar incidents would not re-occur in the future and the manufacturer would learn as the remainder of the season progressed. Griffiths later emphasised a priority scenario was non-existent over favouring one driver over the other and praised Félix da Costa for accepting responsibility for the accident.
Regarding his first lap contact with Bird at the first corner, Vergne called himself a "idiot" for clattering into him and asserted any similar mistakes would not re-occur in the future, "I didn't stop the car and I obviously didn't want to crash into Sam, I didn't want to ruin his race, ruin my race and have a penalty for the next race. So I went completely on the inside and obviously I spun because there was no other way. I either spin or take us both out - so I chose that option. It was unnecessary because I clearly had the pace to win today." Wehrlein said he was certain he could have finished on the podium had di Grassi not hit him at the start; he enjoyed the weekend as a whole, "You know, I got to experience Formula E, apart from the race, but I like the formula and again the race was very interesting. It’s a busy day with a lot of driving so I really like that as well but it starts early, I don’t like it so much but you cannot have everything!"
After the race, d'Ambrosio took the lead from Félix da Costa in the Drivers' Championship with 40 points. Vergne tied Félix da Costa on the number of points (28). Lotterer moved into fourth place with 19 points and Frijns was one point behind after he advanced from twelfth to fifth. In the Teams' Championship, Techeetah continued to lead with a total of 47 points, and Mahindra made up one position on them to move into second. BMW Andretti fell to third and tied Mahindra on points (40). Virgin's double podium finish progressed them to fourth while e.Dams-Nissan fell to fifth with eleven races left in the season.
|3||28||António Félix da Costa||Andretti-BMW||1:17.626||+0.137||61|
|9||3||Nelson Piquet Jr.||Jaguar||1:18.347||+0.221||9|
|11||11||Lucas di Grassi||Audi||1:18.595||+0.469||11|
|13||7||José María López||Dragon-Penske||1:18.612||+0.486||13|
- ^1 — António Félix da Costa was demoted three places for exceeding the amount of permitted power on his non-timed lap.
|7||11||Lucas di Grassi||Audi||31||+1.633||11||6+13|
|11||7||José María López||Dragon-Penske||31||+4.528||13|
|14||3||Nelson Piquet Jr.||Jaguar||31||+6.833||9|
|Ret||28||António Félix da Costa||Andretti-BMW||25||Accident||6|
|Ret||94||Pascal Wehrlein||Mahindra||1||Accident damage||7|
Standings after the raceEdit
- Notes: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.
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2018 Ad Diriyah ePrix
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