Formula E: Da Costa dominates Marrakesh E-Prix

Günther 2nd, Vergne 3rd

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By Olivier Ferret

29 February 2020 - 18:54
Formula E: Da Costa dominates (...)

DS TECHEETAH driver and race winner Antonio Felix Da Costa and his teammate Jean-Eric Vergne pulled off a double podium for their team in Marrakesh. Splitting the pair in second was BMW i ANDRETTI MOTORSPORT’s Maximilian Günther.

With a good start, pole setter Da Costa led the way into the first corner of the 2020 Marrakesh E-Prix, followed closely by the man who replaced him at BMW Günther in second and Mercedes-Benz EQ’s Nyck de Vries in third.

Starting from 11th position, reigning champion Vergne moved up the order to seventh, desperate to kick start his third championship title campaign. At the same time, de Vries dropped from third to the back while serving a drive-through penalty for excessive power regeneration. TAG Heuer Porsche’s Andre Lotterer subsequently moved up into third with 28 minutes left on the clock.

The gap between the two leaders varied between a few tenth and a second over the opening few laps, but when both moved to activate the first of their two four-minute attack mode periods, Da Costa made better use of the extra power and put himself two seconds clear of Günther.

Still climbing up the order, Vergne moved into third, slipping past his former teammate Andre Lotterer who moved down into fourth. Despite missing the first Free Practice session the previous day due to a fever, the reigning champion was potentially facing a podium finish after starting outside the top ten. Vergne dropped back behind Lotterer again shortly after, as the German had activated his first attack mode later.

Battling hard for the lead, Da Costa and Günther found themselves engaged in close, wheel-to-wheel racing, going side by side into turn 11, allowing Günther to close the gap and attempt an overtake.

Da Costa fought off this attack, but Günther managed to execute a move around the outside of turn 1 shortly after and took the lead. Both drivers then undertook significant energy management and were nearly caught by third-placed driver Lotterer.

When the second round of attack mode activations came around, Da Costa reclaimed his lead with the added 35kW. Günther followed suit with activating his second attack mode, but Da Costa had established enough of a gap to stay in front. Further down the order, Lotterer and ROKiT VENTURI RACING’s Edoardo Mortara battled for fourth and fifth, both in attack mode.

Still climbing his way up the order, Vergne went for second-placed Günther, taking the German driver on the inside of turn 1 and moving into second behind his teammate with six minutes and one lap left of the race. Günther, now down in third sat ahead of Lotterer in fourth, while the two German drivers competed for a place on the podium.

With the two DS TECHEETAH’s up front, Vergne fended off a number of attacks from Günther in third, costing him precious energy, before the BMW driver managed to get past him. Still well ahead, Da Costa took the chequered flag, claiming DS TECHEETAH’s first win in the 2019/20 season. Günther made it over the line in second with Vergne close on his tail in third. Nissan e.dams driver Sebastien Buemi finished in fourth and Mortara in fifth.

Despite starting from the back of the grid, Panasonic Jaguar Racing driver and championship leader Mitch Evans has managed to climb 18 places by the final moments of the race, finishing in sixth position. The New Zealander failed to set a time in Qualifying but more than made up for the rough start with a clean drive through the field.

Formula E now heads to Rome for round six of the 2019/20 ABB FIA Formula E Championship on 4 April.

Quotes

Antonio Felix da Costa (DS TECHEETAH)

“The win today was down to the team. They gave me an amazing car and we are working together to improve. The race was actually much harder than it looked. I had to be very brave and clever when making any moves. At one point, I had to let Max really close to push him into using extra energy, while with the second attack mode I was preventing Andre from getting too close. In the end it worked out perfectly! We planned the race very well and all the work back in Paris paid off. Hats off to JEV today who, despite having a tough week, pulled through with a podium finish for the team.”

Maximilian Günther (BMW i ANDRETTI MOTORSPORT)

“Fighting against both DS TECHEETAH cars today was intense. We managed the race quite well and it got very exciting when JEV overtook me towards the end. We knew we could eventually make a move, as I had an energy advantage over him. But he was defending very well, which was fair play. I think that what JEV did today is impressive. I had more energy compared to him and this made the difference in the final few corners. Also, Antonio was clever in keeping the lead, so congratulations to him!”

Jean-Eric Vergne (DS TECHEETAH)

“It was the hardest race of my entire career here at Formula E. Despite not being able to take part in practice yesterday, I had been watching everyone from hospital. I was still not feeling very well today, but the team did an excellent job. During the race I just put my head down and gave it my all. When my engineer told me midway through the race that I was in fourth, I could not believe it. I had a good fight with Max near the end… but I was sure he was going to overtake me eventually. I tried to defend second place as much as I could, however I did not have the energy left in the car. I am pleased to be back on the podium.”

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