António Félix da Costa won the Marrakesh ePrix, leading the majority of the race from pole position.
Joining da Costa on the podium in second place was BMW i Andretti’s Maximilian Günther, the German briefly taking the lead midway through the race, while da Costa’s DS Techeetah teammate Jean-Éric Vergne drove forward from eleventh to third despite illness.
Da Costa led away comfortably from pole position, well clear of Günther, who covered the Porsche of André Lotterer to hold second into Turn 1. Mercedes’ Nyck de Vries defended fourth position from a charging Edoardo Mortara, who dived for the inside of the corner but instead made minor contact with both the pit wall and the rear of de Vries’ car. The collision slightly dislodged the front wing of the Venturi, which as a result continued to shake for the duration of the race, but all drivers survived the initial skirmish.
Through the opening stages of the race, the top five maintained their order until de Vries made a successful challenge on Lotterer for third. It was not to last long, however, as the Mercedes driver was handed a drive-through penalty for being overpowered while regenerating energy. Taking the penalty straight away and with almost the whole field still closely bunched, de Vries fell to 23rd of the 24 cars on circuit – only Ma Qing Hua was now behind. With the Mercedes now out of the way, Lotterer was back in third position.
By this stage, Vergne had already moved forward four places and sat in seventh, at which point he began a rapid climb higher up the order thanks in no small part to activating his first Attack Mode. During the four minutes of extra power, the reigning champion pushed all the way up to passing Lotterer for third place, however the Porsche driver soon found a way back past once he took Attack Mode himself.
Up front, both da Costa and Günther activated their first Attack Mode on Lap 11 – nullifying any real gain from either driver in the process – as da Costa built his lead slightly to around two seconds as the mode expired. What followed was an extended period of energy-saving for both drivers, with da Costa easing right back to Günther on Lap 15. Despite also heavily managing energy use himself, Günther took the opportunity to challenge for the race lead – initially by moving to the outside of the DS Techeetah at Turn 11, unfortunately to no avail. Two corners later though, through Turn 1 on the following lap, Günther was successful and swept around the outside of da Costa to seize the position.
Lotterer and Vergne had closed in on the leading pair during this time, but da Costa soon activated his second Attack Mode and very quickly moved back past Günther and set about building a lead that would not be headed. The BMW driver attempted to follow his rival by also activating Attack Mode soon after, but he was unable to make any significant headway in chasing down the Techeetah once more.
Vergne found his way back by Lotterer into third and grabbed his final Attack Mode to challenge Günther, who could provide little resistance to a dive down the inside into Turn 1 with six minutes remaining in the race. Having pushed so hard to drive through to second, Vergne’s need to conserve energy was now critical and forced the Frenchman to have to defend from Günther instead of being able to build a gap. The BMW i Andretti team realised this and began coaching Günther through his attacks on Vergne, informing their driver it was likely Vergne would run out of energy before the finish if they kept applying pressure.
Out front, though, da Costa was a huge benefactor from his teammate’s defensiveness. With a clear track and no challengers, the Portuguese driver drove away from the field, taking victory by 11.427 seconds – the third greatest winning margin in Formula E history.
The battle for second was not yet over, Vergne blocking Günther heavily into the first corner at one stage, but ultimately it was in vain – the German was able to challenge down the outside along the back straight, completing the pass into Turn 11 on the final lap, two corners from the finish line.
Relying on regeneration through the final two corners to keep him from running out of energy before the line, Vergne held on to third place – still an incredibly strong result given his ill health, missed practice session and fourteenth-placed race start. The effort from a clearly still very unwell Vergne was evident post-race – the reigning champ was absolved of giving a television interview and slowly joined the podium from a side stairwell instead of the usual parade down the catwalk, the exhaustion on his face blatantly visible.
Behind the podium trio, Lotterer fell down the order in the final laps, with Sébastien Buemi taking the fourth place ahead of Mortara and Mitch Evans – the Kiwi’s drive from 24th and last on the grid every bit as impressive as Vergne’s. Having missed the cut-off to set a qualifying time by less than three-tenths of a second due to an error in the Jaguar team’s management of that session, Evans needed an immense effort to minimise the damage to the championship lead he held coming into the race.
While he ceded the lead in the standings to da Costa, Evans’ result means he only falls to second place, just 11 points behind. Reflecting on his day, Evans suggested his drive through the field shows that he and Jaguar are genuine championship contenders: “This sends a message to the others. Even when these things happen, we’ll be back with a big fight!”
Seventh place was claimed by Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler’s Lucas di Grassi, the final driver to pass Lotterer who ultimately ended in eighth position. After another strong qualifying, the German displayed top three pace for the bulk of the race, but faded late once again as he managed both energy and tyres – showing Porsche still have work to do on their race management and set-up. The top ten was rounded out by the Nissan e.Dams of Oliver Rowland and Envision Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird.
The race had run under completely green flag conditions for almost its entirety, with the only yellow flag occurring on the final lap as Alexander Sim stopped on circuit.
Sims had been running well inside the top ten, and on the final lap challenged Mortara for fifth as the pair approached Turn 7. The pair made seemingly innocuous side by side contact, but it was enough to bend the steering on Sims’ BMW – and worse still break a driveshaft. The latter forced the Brit’s car to stop on circuit, he was seen inspecting the rear end of the BMW during the race’s cool-down lap. It’s the second time a failed driveshaft has forced Sim’s retirement this season – a similar failure befell his BMW in Santiago – and also left him as the only driver who failed to finish in Marrakesh.
In the Drivers’ Championship standings, Sims (46 points) has slipped to third behind da Costa and Evans, ten points behind the latter. Günther has climbed to fourth place, two points behind his teammate, with di Grassi holding steady in fifth position. The Audi driver’s 38 points has him sitting equal with Mercedes’ Stoffel Vandoorne, who was off the pace in Marrakesh, scoring a 15th place finish and no points. A fourth top-eight result from the five races this season sees Mortara climb to seventh, which Vergne’s best result of the season has boosted the reigning champion up to eighth place with 31 points. Rowland and Bird fill the balance of the top ten.
The double podium for DS Techeetah sees the team jump to the top of the Teams’ Championship with 98 points, a lead of eight over BMW i Andretti. The leading pair have opened a substantial margin over third placed Jaguar (66 points), with Nissan e.Dams (57 points) and Mercedes (56 points) in a tight battle for fourth and fifth.
The 2019/20 FIA Formula E Championship now has a five-week break before the first European event of the year, the Rome ePrix on Saturday 4 April. The teams will remain in Marrakesh for a little while longer, however, with the annual rookie test set to occur before they depart.
|2020 Formula E Marrakesh ePrix – Final Classification (34 laps)|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Result||Pts|
|1.||António Félix da Costa||DS Techeetah||46:52.757||28|
|2.||Maximilian Günther||BMW i Andretti Motorsport||+ 11.427||19|
|3.||Jean-Éric Vergne||DS Techeetah||+ 12.034||15|
|4.||Sébastien Buemi||Nissan e.dams||+ 12.282||12|
|5.||Edoardo Mortara||ROKiT Venturi Racing||+ 15.657||10|
|6.||Mitch Evans||Panasonic Jaguar Racing||+ 16.335||9|
|7.||Lucas di Grassi||Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler||+ 18.706||6|
|8.||André Lotterer||TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team||+ 19.498||4|
|9.||Oliver Rowland||Nissan e.dams||+ 20.126||2|
|10.||Sam Bird||Envision Virgin Racing||+ 20.295||1|
|11.||Nyck de Vries||Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team||+ 20.557|
|12.||Robin Frijns||Envision Virgin Racing||+ 22.373|
|13.||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Mahindra Racing||+ 22.785|
|14.||Daniel Abt||Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler||+ 25.080|
|15.||Stoffel Vandoorne||Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team||+ 25.969|
|16.||James Calado||Panasonic Jaguar Racing||+ 26.528|
|17.||Felipe Massa||ROKiT Venturi Racing||+ 27.476|
|18.||Neel Jani||TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team||+ 44.476|
|19.||Brendon Hartley||GEOX Dragon||+ 49.002|
|20.||Nico Müller||GEOX Dragon||+ 53.075|
|21.||Oliver Turvey||NIO 333 FE Team||+ 59.969|
|22.||Pascal Wehrlein||Mahindra Racing||+ 1:13.414|
|23.||Ma Qing Hua||NIO 333 FE Team||+ 1 lap|
|Not Classified||Team / Entry||Reason||Pts|
|DNF.||Alexander Sims||BMW i Andretti Motorsport||Driveshaft|
- Championship points are awarded on the results of the Final Classification of each ePrix to the race’s top-ten finishers on a 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 sliding scale.
- A bonus point is awarded to the driver finishing in the top-ten (Mitch Evans) and their corresponding team (Panasonic Jaguar Racing) for posting the fastest lap of the race.
- Three bonus points are awarded to the driver (António Félix da Costa) and their corresponding team (DS Techeetah) for claiming pole position.
- A bonus point is awarded to the driver (Maximilian Günther) and their corresponding team (BMW i Andretti Motorsport) for being the fastest driver in the group stages of qualifying.
Images via ABB FIA Formula E Championship