Marrakesh Formula E preview

I don’t think I’ve ever done a blog so early in the year, and it feels slightly odd – but also very exciting – to be starting my racing so early. This weekend we’re in Marrakesh for the second round of the FIA Formula E Championship, and I can’t wait to get going with DS Virgin Racing.

Unlike the first round, which took place in Hong Kong in early December over two races, this is a more traditional Formula E event, with qualifying and the single race on Saturday. I’m travelling out on Wednesday morning. You may think that’s a bit early, but with only one flight per day, and the chances of bad weather at home scuppering things, it’s not worth risking arriving at the last minute.

Talking of risk, I had a lovely family holiday in the Alps. But I didn’t do any skiing: being a Formula E driver means you don’t really get an off-season, and I just didn’t want to chance things with a race coming up so soon in the new year. Not that I’m complaining – who wouldn’t want to be a Formula E driver? That’s worth making a few sacrifices for!

Hong Kong was the last time I drove a racing car, and it’s good that we ended the weekend on a high as far as my competitiveness was concerned, even if the result didn’t go the way we wanted it to. That put us in a very positive mood going into the Christmas and New Year break. I’ve done a lot on the DS Virgin Racing simulator, so everyone is feeling even more prepared and we’re all going there in high spirits. That’s important, because we know it’s going to be a very competitive weekend.

The Marrakesh track is based on the circuit that used to host the World Touring Car Championship, Formula 2 and Auto GP, so it’s more of a traditional layout than we’re used to in Formula E. Because it’s long by Formula E standards, and there’s a lot of sections where we’re flat-out for quite a long time, from that side it puts more strain on the powertrain.

That said, we’re pretty confident of scoring some very good points. But the thing about Formula E is: you just never know what’s going to happen, because it’s so unpredictable. We’re looking forward to being competitive again, as we were in Hong Kong, but this championship is full of great drivers and teams so we really need to do our job properly.

One thing that was notable about Hong Kong was that no-one had a top result in both races, so that means the championship is pretty much as wide open as it was before we even started racing. That means we go to Marrakesh with the mentality that we have to score heavily. We’re second in the teams’ championship, only three points off the top, so I’m looking forward to a good weekend for me and my team-mate Sam Bird to move to the top.

What is cool about Formula E is that we go to places that I’d never normally experience. I’ve never been to Morocco before, but I do know a lot of people who’ve been on holiday there – my girlfriend says it’s nice, but you know the drill in the life of a racing driver: it’s all airport and circuit! I won’t see a lot of it, but it is great to have a race in Africa and hopefully it can continue to be an important part of the Formula E calendar for years to come.