At round 2 of the Formula E season in Marrakech, Mahindra’s Jerome D’Ambrosio claimed victory. Yet, while India celebrated, BMW i Andretti had to deal with losing the chance of bringing home a double.
Just nine and a half minutes before the end of the race, both BMW i drivers fought head to head for the lead. Alexander Sims tried to overtake Felix da Costa before turn 7. It was here both drivers rammed into each other and slid into the braking zone. As a result, Da Costa, winner of round 1 in Saudi Arabia, was forced to drop out of the race due to a damaged vehicle, while Sims was able to rejoin on rank four.
Yet, one man’s sorrow, is another man’s joy and so Jerome D’Ambrosio took the lead and the victory with only 0.143 seconds ahead of the two Envision Virgin Racing teammates Robin Frijns and Sam Bird.
Despite the disappointment at BMW i Andretti, co-team principal Roger Griffiths appealed to the team’s effort, saying “We celebrated together in Riad, we all commiserate together here in Morocco. We move on to the next round and prove that we’re just as strong when we go down to Santiago.”
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While the high expectations BMW i had hedged after winning in the first round were disappointed, team Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler was in a much better mood. “I think we have seen again a super exciting race with a very good result for Audi overall. Our customer cars with Virgin went 2nd and 3rd with Robin Frijns and Sam Bird, so a good result for us. A bit more of a struggle for Lucas Di Grassi and Daniel Abt. But definitely with 4 cars in the points in an Audi not a bad weekend for us.”
The races in detail
What a crazy day in the Moroccan desert with darkness and temperatures just above freezing during the first practice races at 8am. By race time at 4pm, temperatures rose to 22 degrees Celsius thanks to the African sun. Still, there was chaos right from the start. British driver Sam Bird clinched the Super Pole in qualifying and was attacked by reigning World Champion Jean Eric Vergne in the first left corner. Vergne’s brakes locked, his car bumped into Bird’s and started to spin off the track. Several drivers had to dodge his car to avoid further collisions.
Among those with bad luck was rookie Pascal Wehrlein, who replaced Nick Heidfeld in the cockpit of Mahindra this season. Although the DTM champion of 2015 secured one of five fan boosts and started from rank 7, Wehrlein was forced out of the race after being hit by Lucas Di Grassi. Back in the box, his frustration showed in slamming the door behind him. An hour later however, emotions inside the Mahindra box turned around following D’Ambrosio’s victory.
Overall, Formula E’s round 2 enthralled with new suspense from Attack Mode, unpredictable crashes among teammates and smiling winners no one would have anticipated, all against the backdrop of the Atlas Mountains. Moreover, the race in Marrakech definitely prove the power of the next-gen electric race cars. We look forward to the next round in two weeks at the Santiago E-Prix in Chile.
Reporting by Björn Hesse.
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