Driver debrief: Marrakesh

Spacesuit-Media-Shivraj-Gohil-FIA-Formula-E-Marrakesh-ePrix-November-2016-Sam Bird DS Virgin Racing Marrakesh

Saturday’s race in Marrakesh may not be remembered as an all-time classic but, come the end of the season, it may prove crucial in deciding the fate of the championship.

Sebastien Buemi continued his winning start to season three with another excellent racing display, yet otherwise Formula E’s first visit to Africa was filled with missed opportunities and so-so performances, as reflected in our driver ratings (published on Tuesday).

You’ve heard what we’ve got to say. But what about the drivers themselves? Here are their post-race thoughts in their own words (or those of their press teams…).

P1: Sebastien Buemi, Renault e.dams

My cars were amazing today and the balance was really good. In my first lap I used a bit too much energy but after that we were able to save charge so we could be strong and push when we needed later in the stint, and this really worked for us. We know we have an efficient car and we had to take advantage of that after we started further back on the grid than we wanted. I was able to extract everything I needed from the car and it shows the team is working really well, so it’s been a very positive start to the season.

P2: Sam Bird, DS Virgin Racing 

It’s great to get points on the board. There’s still work to do, but getting podium is a win in itself. Up next is tackling Sebastien Buemi. He’s on his own level right now. Today there were 19 guys battling for 2nd place. But… I have some ideas as to how we can move that up in Buenos Aires.

P3: Felix Rosenqvist, Mahindra Racing

Looking back at how the day went in Marrakesh, taking pole position was something really unexpected. We knew we had really good pace and the guys have been putting a good package together for qualifying especially. However, I’m still a bit shocked that we were able to get pole in just my second weekend in Formula E. Starting the race from pole, if you had told me before the race that I would finish third, I would have signed up for it immediately! There was great communication with Andres [Castillo – race engineer] on the radio; the team was there all the time supporting me and I think we nailed the race as well as we could have done. The first stint was fantastic, and in the second stint there were a combination of small things that meant we weren’t quite as competitive. That was maybe the sad part, but in the end we have to be proud. Nick took a podium in Hong Kong and we now we have the pole, podium and fastest lap in our bag. Going back to street circuits next year I am feeling confident.

P4; Nico Prost, Renault e.dams

I am happy about my race but a little frustrated that I wasn’t able to qualify higher. I showed good pace in practice but Q1 is the most difficult qualifying session to deliver in, even if it was very close to Superpole. I consumed a little bit too much energy in my out-lap, which meant I had to save a little bit in my first stint of the race. Nevertheless, I was able to overtake Daniel Abt and push strongly. Certainly, I would have preferred to have finished on the podium here – and in Hong Kong – but the most important thing is scoring points.

P5: Lucas di Grassi, ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport

Fifth place was the maximum today. I fought throughout the entire race to overtake the cars in front of me. For today I’m satisfied with 10 points. However, we’ll use the short winter break to analyse everything exactly so we can strike back in Buenos Aires. The situation isn’t new: last season we improved constantly. We’ll pool all our resources to do the same again.

P6: Daniel Abt, ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport

In qualifying I extracted the maximum to line up sixth, whereas in the race I was a little short of pace in the beginning. I’m delighted about the points, and will now analyse with the team exactly where we came up short before attacking again after the Christmas break.

P7: Oliver Turvey, NextEV NIO

I got a good start and held position. After that I was able to create a gap to the guys behind, maintained our energy targets and kept a consistent pace. The pitstop went well and the second stint was pretty consistent. I was on my own most of the race, but it’s another race that we learnt a lot and we improved from the last race. We want to be higher up but to score another six points is good.

P8: Jean-Eric Vergne, Techeetah

Very challenging day for me and the Techeetah Formula E team in Morocco, sometimes it just isn’t your day! The team worked really hard to put a strong package together for me and I think our pace in qualifying showed that. Our best qualifying lap was 0.6s quicker than anyone else and in the race we were able to move up to P2 before the pit stops and the penalty. It’s frustrating not to give my fans and the team more than P8 but we look forward to Buenos Aires and will come back stronger.

P9: Nick Heidfeld, Mahindra Racing

It was a very difficult race for me, especially in the first stint. There was quite a bit of contact from the start that cost me time and maybe caused some damage, I am not quite sure but the balance of the first car was quite poor. One of the drivers apologised to me after which I really appreciate. I completed a reasonably long second stint compared to the others and while that made it very difficult to gain many positions, the pace including regen was still competitive. I was able to get some points here in Marrakesh but what is really promising is that Mahindra Racing has achieved two podiums in two races. With Felix’s first pole position we are joint second in the championship which is obviously fantastic, but we always want to be even better.

P10: Jose Maria Lopez, DS Virgin Racing 

My target was to finish and gain more experience, and I finished my second race with a point, so that’s a positive. I’m now confident for our next race in Buenos Aires.

P11: Robin Frijns, MS Amlin Andretti 

The start of the race was okay. On the first lap, I outbraked myself and Antonio overtook me. I came to a point when I was a bit quicker than Heidfeld and he seemed to be struggling. I went for a gap and he defended, I braked and locked the two fronts in the corner causing me to spin. It was unlucky and unfortunate, but it was one of those times when you try something and if it works, you’re a hero, and if it doesn’t you’re on the outside. It’s a bit of a shame we didn’t score any points today, at maximum we could have been P8. Hopefully the next race will be a better one.

P12: Stephane Sarrazin, Venturi 

It’s’s been a difficult race. I made a mistake during qualifying, I could have been in a better position on the grid. That’s on me. During the second part of the race we had troubles with energy and we have to look into that. It’s the first time in a long time that I have lost positions and I am not in the points.

P13: Jerome d’Ambrosio, Faraday Future Dragon Racing

We had a very positive start in the free practices today, but the qualifying session didn’t have the results we would have hoped. But we can continue to progress as a team and collaborate for positive results in the ongoing season.

P14: Adam Carroll, Panasonic Jaguar Racing

It was great to finish my second race for Panasonic Jaguar Racing and gain more track time. My race was compromised by a mistake in my qualifying lap. This meant I started at the back so I had a busy race trying to move up the pack. We had a quick car change and the second half of the race felt really strong. It was good to build on Hong Kong and the team is improving with every session. As we go into the break we have a lot of great learnings to implement for the next race in Buenos Aires.

P15: Ma Qinghua, Techeetah 

We had good fun racing with the Jaguar drivers. I think overall we didn’t do a good quali so I started back of the grid but the start was OK. I lost some positions because there was a lot of fighting and I was, let’s say, on the safe side. But I tried to fight back and did some good overtaking and it wasn’t a bad race. We found some problems with the car’s balance and software and it’s what we expect as a new team – we have a lot of work to do to make sure it won’t happen again.

P16: Nelson Piquet, NextEV NIO 

It’s been a difficult day. We were having an okay race but I knew I couldn’t fight too much against Sebastien and Jean Eric, so I kept to my strategy. When I came in for the car change we had an electrical issue which lost us a lot of time and at that point it was game over. It’s very frustrating so now we have to investigate what happened so it doesn’t repeat. There’s a big break now until the Buenos Aires race in February so we will look to come back strong.

P17: Mitch Evans, Panasonic Jaguar Racing

Tough day in the office in Marrakesh. I had frustrating start of the race after contact with Loic Duval which put me out of position. I then spent the rest of the race trying to recover. Fortunately, I managed to gain some positions before I kissed the wall towards the end of the race after a lock up when I was trying to save some energy. Luckily, there was no damage to the car. It’s a shame about the race but that’s racing and the main thing is that we now have further data to analyse and digest during the gap to the next race. Hopefully, the break won’t feel too long as I’m already looking forward to racing in Buenos Aires in February.

P18: Loic Duval, Faraday Future Dragon Racing

Today’s fastest lap showcases the potential of our Formula E car and technical partnership with Faraday Future. I look forward to our continued success and collaboration.

DNF: Maro Engel, Venturi

It’s difficult because you don’t control anything in that kind of situation. I wanted to push, we were good in our strategy in regard to our position on the grid and everything collapsed. It’s a shame. We were on for the top 10.

DNF: Antonio Felix da Costa, MS Amlin Andretti 

We had a good start to the race and gained a position straightaway. I was feeling good in the car and we had very good energy management; we were running in the top 10 and looking good to get a few more places. Then we had a technical issue with the car and we stopped on track. That was the end of the race for us, really. We came in and I jumped into the other car with the goal of going for the fastest lap, which we held until a lap or two from the end. It’s frustrating because it has been a month of hard work for the MS Amlin Andretti team.

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