António Félix da Costa will start the Marrakesh ePrix from pole position, while a significant error in the Jaguar team’s timing of the session meant championship leader Mitch Evans failed to set a time and will start from the back of the grid.
With the desert dust being blown on to the circuit between sessions, da Costa overcame the disadvantage of having to run in Qualifying Group 1 when the track was at its dirtiest and yet still progressed to Super Pole – the only driver to do so.
Ultimately the DS Techeetah driver’s group qualifying lap of 1:17.640 was provisionally fourth-fastest, behind BMW i Andretti’s Maximilian Günther (1:17.562), André Lotterer’s Porsche (1:17.582) and the Venturi of Edoardo Mortara (1:17.631). Joining this quartet in Super Pole were Nyck de Vries (Mercedes) – 0.181 seconds off Günther’s benchmark – and Sébastien Buemi (Nissan e.Dams) a further 0.026 seconds back.
In the Super Pole session itself, Buemi led out with a 1:17.811 lap – ultimately not good enough to lift the Nissan up from sixth on the grid. De Vries was second on the road and managed to move forward from his position after the group stages, a 1:17.590 lap time ultimately boosting the Dutchman to fourth. Next on circuit was da Costa, the Portuguese driver moving the benchmark time well ahead to 1:17.158.
Mortara could only bank a time 0.645 seconds slower than da Costa, the Venturi driver slipping behind de Vries into what will be a fifth-placed start. Lotterer ran next and came much closer to the DS Techeetah, the German’s time just 0.095 seconds off pole. Closer still was Günther, the BMW was in fact one-and-a-half tenths ahead through the first two sectors but could not hold on through the third, falling short by just 0.069 seconds – but still lining up alongside da Costa on the front row.
Jérôme d’Ambrosio, last year’s winner in Marrakesh, just missed out on progressing to Super Pole – the Mahindra Racing driver was 0.019 seconds slower than Buemi’s cut-off time. Alexander Sims will join the Belgian on the fourth row of the grid, with Oliver Rowland (Nissan e.Dams) and James Calado (Jaguar) filling out the top ten.
Reigning champion Jean-Éric Vergne qualified in eleventh position, having missed Friday’s opening practice session due to illness. The Frenchman had re-taken his place in the field for Practice 2 on Saturday morning, but with limited time to both set up the car and post an indicative lap time. As such, Vergne ended that session in 23rd place, 1.769 seconds off the fastest time.
The biggest name buried down the order in qualifying is Mitch Evans. The Jaguar team’s session run strategy backfiring and leaving the Kiwi stranded without a lap time being set. As the championship leader, Evans was placed in the first group to run. In a bid to avoid the dust and have the cleanest track conditions possible, Jaguar released their driver for his two-lap run (one out lap to warm up and one flying lap to qualify), but did so marginally too late. Evans was a touch too slow thorough the final sector of his out-lap and missed crossing the control line to start his flying lap before the group’s time clock hit zero – the margin between qualifying and failing to set a time just 0.268 seconds.
Despite missing the cut-off, Evans completed his flying lap in full anyway (earning a reprimand from the Stewards for doing so), the driver later claiming data showed his lap time to have been 1:17.4 – good enough to not only make Super Pole but also have been the fastest driver to do so. Instead, the New Zealander will start last.
|2020 FIA Formula E Championship Marrakesh ePrix – ‘Super Pole’ Qualifying Results|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap|
|1.||António Félix da Costa||DS Techeetah||1:17.158|
|2.||Maximilian Günther||BMW i Andretti Motorsport||1:17.227||+ 0.069|
|3.||André Lotterer||TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team||1:17.253||+ 0.095|
|4.||Nyck de Vries||Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team||1:17.590||+ 0.432|
|5.||Edoardo Mortara||ROKiT Venturi Racing||1:17.803||+ 0.645|
|6.||Sébastien Buemi||Nissan e.dams||1:17.811||+ 0.653|
|2020 FIA Formula E Championship Marrakesh ePrix – Preliminary Qualifying Results|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap*|
|7.||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Mahindra Racing||1:17.798||+ 0.236|
|8.||Alexander Sims||BMW i Andretti Motorsport||1:17.830||+ 0.268|
|9.||Oliver Rowland||Nissan e.dams||1:17.839||+ 0.277|
|10.||James Calado||Panasonic Jaguar Racing||1:17.867||+ 0.305|
|11.||Jean-Éric Vergne||DS Techeetah||1:17.928||+ 0.366|
|12.||Brendon Hartley||GEOX Dragon||1:17.944||+ 0.382|
|13.||Lucas di Grassi||Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler||1:17.958||+ 0.396|
|14.||Sam Bird||Envision Virgin Racing||1:18.064||+ 0.502|
|15.||Pascal Wehrlein||Mahindra Racing||1:18.069||+ 0.507|
|16.||Nico Müller||GEOX Dragon||1:18.203||+ 0.641|
|17.||Stoffel Vandoorne||Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team||1:18.218||+ 0.656|
|18.||Daniel Abt||Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler||1:18.239||+ 0.677|
|19.||Oliver Turvey||NIO 333 FE Team||1:18.313||+ 0.751|
|20.||Felipe Massa||ROKiT Venturi Racing||1:18.675||+ 1.113|
|21.||Ma Qing Hua||NIO 333 FE Team||1:19.359||+ 1.797|
|DNQ.||Robin Frijns||Envision Virgin Racing||1:27.444||+ 9.882|
|DNQ.||Neel Jani||TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team||1:32.690||+ 15.128|
|DNQ.||Mitch Evans||Panasonic Jaguar Racing||no time|
*Denotes gap to fastest preliminary qualifying time of 1:17.562 set by Maximilian Günther
- Three bonus points are awarded to the driver (António Félix da Costa) and their corresponding team (DS Techeetah) who claims pole position.
- A bonus point is awarded to the driver (Maximilian Günther) and their corresponding team (BMW i Andretti Motorsport) who is the fastest driver in the group stages of qualifying.
- Robin Frijns and Neel Jani were stripped of their fastest qualifying lap time due to their battery “not respecting the homologated throttle pedal map”.
- Mitch Evans failed to post a time in qualifying and will start the race at the discretion of the FIA Stewards.
Making the error even harder for Evans and Jaguar to swallow is the Kiwi having been fastest in Practice 2 that morning, setting a new unofficial lap record of 1:17.309 in the process. Lucas di Grassi was second fastest for Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, 0.236 seconds behind Evans, with Robin Frijns (Envision Virgin Racing) third, just 0.035 seconds further back. With the bulk of the field completing full-power qualifying simulation laps, the top 16 drivers in the session were within one second of Evans’ benchmark time.
Images via ABB FIA Formula E Championship