Felix Rosenqvist has scored his first Formula E podium at the sport’s first trip to Africa. In just his second race, the electric racing rookie will start from the very front in Marrakesh after showing impressive form all morning on race day.. The achievement was slightly dimmend by a disastrous mistake from Techeetah, which left Jean-Eric Vergme, fasest in the qualifying group stages, unable to set a lap in the super pole session.
The Mahindra Racing driver hooked up a fastest lap of 1:21.509 in the super pole session to edge out defending champion Sebastien Buemi, while DS Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird will start third on the grid.
Buemi was the first of the front runners to hit the track for qualifying, setting a fast lap of 1:21.350 in Q2, some four tenths faster than that of Renault e.dams team mate Nico Prost. When Lucas di Grassi could only manage P6 with his lap, it looked like Buemi’s primary challengers had faded, only for Vergne to pull out a stunning effort that saw him go over three-tenths of a second faster.
With the track improving lap by lap, the Q4 runners had a real shot at shaking up the top-end of the order and securing a place in Super Pole. Felix Rosenqvist produced a daring yet delightful lap to rise up to second, less than two-tenths off Vergne at the top, while Sam Bird booked his place in the final shootout for pole by running to P4. Hong Kong pole sitter Nelson Piquet also made it through in P5, setting up a tight fight for pole.
Piquet was the first to head out for a super pole lap but squandered his chance with a sloppy lap that saw him clout the wall at one point. Bird was next up and although he easily beat Piquet’s time, the Brit made his distaste over the lap clear. There was more pace to be found but would the top three find it and beat Bird?
Buemi managed to but only just. He too made an error at the first corner, missing the apex completely. Still, he went 0.140s clear to claim provisional pole ahead of the final two super pole competitors. Then, Rosenqvist put his street course nous to good use by going faster still, sneaking ahead of Buemi.
Attention then turned to Vergne but he wasn’t where he should have been. A mix-up in the pits meant that Techeetah sent the Frenchman out too late. The pit exit had closed, leaving JEV stranded at the end of the pit lane. It was game over, leaving Mahindra to celebrate the team’s first Formula E pole.
Daniel Abt was the biggest loser following the flurry of Q4 times, being bumped out to P6. Nico Prost could only finish seventh despite leading after Q1, while Oliver Turvey was unable to emulate his Hong Kong qualifying form, finishing eighth. The Andretti duo of Robin Frijns and Antonio Felix da Costa rounded out the top 10.
Nick Heidfeld qualified P11 for Mahindra ahead of a crestfallen di Grassi, whose scruffy effort left him with another fight to get into the points. Jose Maria Lopez was P13 for DS Virgin Racing, with both cars still bearing the battle scars of his crashes in FP1. Venturi drivers Maro Engel and Stephane Sarrazin ended up in P14 and P15 respectively. Mitch Evans led Jaguar’s charge, qualifying P16 as teammate Adam Carroll ended up last following an error at Turn 1, snapping his I-Type under braking. Dragon’s struggles continued as Jerome d’Ambrosio and Loic Duval ended up P17 and P19, split by Ma Qinghua, who failed to put in a full power lap.
The Marrakesh ePrix kicks off at 1600 GMT. Don’t miss it.
Group qualifying results