Marrakesh Formula E review
What a shame. The Marrakesh round of the FIA Formula E Championship was looking really good for me, but after a coming together on the second lap I spun out of sixth place, and bang – that was the end of my chances of a really satisfying result. I ended up ninth, so it was nice to score points again, but it could have been so much better.
The DS Virgin Racing team was quite competitive from the start, as soon as we hit the streets in Morocco. I was right up there for most of the first free practice session, but I slipped down a bit because I didn’t get a run in my second car. In the second session we did a qualifying simulation and I put in a good lap to end up sixth. It was very tight, and it was obvious that it would be all about who could put it together in qualifying.
Part of the nature of Formula E, to a much greater extent than other forms of racing, is that you’ve got to put a good lap in without going over the limit. I was out in the second group of five, and I did do a good lap although I felt it was underdriven slightly. That put me fourth at the time, with two more groups of five remaining, and only five going through to Super Pole…
So if I’d got lucky I could have stayed in the top five; if I’d got unlucky I could have dropped 10 places. As it was, two more drivers improved on my time, and I was sixth – I missed the cut by just four thousandths of a second, pipped by my team-mate Sam Bird! Once he was in Super Pole, Sam put it on the front row, and I felt like I’d had a little bit of pace on him over one lap. There are so many ifs and buts in Formula E, but it was positive to be starting sixth.
The start of the race was quite clean. I was right up behind reigning champion Lucas di Grassi in his Audi car, with his team-mate Daniel Abt behind me. Formula E racing is very tactical and I felt at that point that it was about holding station, waiting for the regen to come in – it takes about four laps for the car to become normal to drive. Then, on the second lap, Abt appeared down the inside of me, all locked up, and we collided. He got a drive-through penalty, but that didn’t help me – my race was ruined.
I caught up the pack again quite quickly, but the spin had cost me quite a bit of my usable energy. I don’t know why, but spins take quite a lot of usable race allowance. After the pit stops to change cars, I was a little bit in no man’s land. The top guys were quite a long way in front, the rest quite far behind. So it was me on the tail of my old Formula Renault team-mate Tom Blomqvist and Nicolas Prost, all trying to get the last point. In the end I finished 11th, but a couple of penalties for drivers in front lifted me to ninth.
So it’s a shame my race fell away, but I was quite lucky to come away with some points because of penalties. It’s not what our day and our performance deserved, but there are so many people who were fast but didn’t score anything. I’m happy with the pace and I’m pleased that DS Virgin Racing got a third place with Sam – for my part, I’ve had three out of three points finishes but each one should have been better.
Next time out for me is the upcoming Formula E race in Santiago – the first time an international series has raced in Chile. I’m really looking forward to that. I’ve heard a lot of good things about the country, and it’s a great opportunity for me as a rookie because this time everybody will be starting from a clean sheet of paper on a new track.