Off the back of Antonio Felix Da Costa’s win for BMW I Andretti in the opening round of Formula E’s new ‘Gen 2’ era, the circus heads to sunny Marrakesh for round 2 of what is widely expected to be a thrilling race with plenty of sub-plots. Here are some of the things we think you should look out for in Marrakesh.
It was not all that long ago when Pascal Wehrlein was widely considered to be the future of the Mercedes Formula One team. The German was favourite to replace the outgoing Nico Rosberg, however a season later following a moderately successful stint with the Sauber team, he was left on the sidelines. Formula One’s loss is Formula E’s gain, with the youngest ever DTM champion partnering Jerome D’ambrosio at Mahindra. Wehrlein’s undoubted talent coupled with Mahindra’s history for success in Marrakesh, leaves the stage set for Formula E’s newest star to shine.
2.The first Gen 1 vs Gen 2 lap time comparison
While the streets of Riyadh played host to a fast and frenetic opening round to Formula E’s latest technical offering, a drawback was fans weren’t given a true representative lap time comparison between the new ‘Batmobile’ gen 2 machines and their gen 1 counterparts.
This, therefore is set to be one of the most intriguing subplots of the weekend, with the time of 1:20.355 set by Sebastien Buemi, securing him pole position twelve months ago. As for the race, Jaguar’s Nelson Piquet set a 1:22.832, surprisingly this was bettered by the season three race lap record of 1:22.600 set by Frenchman Loic Duval. This surely will be bettered by the newer model, with all motorsport aficionados keeping tabs on the stopwatch.
3.The true revelation of the season 5 pecking order
The aforementioned Season opener in a surprisingly damp Riyadh may have given us a brilliant race with a tantalisingly close battle for the win, but as we head to Marrakesh the pecking order in Formula E’s newest era is as murky as ever.
BMW was widely tipped as favourites by their rivals, but while they did make good on this promise with Da Costa winning from Pole, it is actually the reigning champions who have gathered the most hype following Jean-Eric Vergne and Andre Lotterer’s combative drives to second and fifth respectively. Despite being hampered by a drive-through penalty for events outside of their control, the potency of their packages is not in doubt.
While it is all very interchangeable at the front, the midfield is equally tough to predict. Dragon and HWA both looked supreme in qualifying, however issues cost them big results during the race. With Tom Dillman suffering a post-qualifying penalty, NIO’s performance was also concealed. Meanwhile, title-contending mainstays such as Audi Abt-Schaeffler and Envision Virgin were sent to the back for a power spike infraction. This left them out of position and unable to show their true potential.
With the bulk of the 2.99Km circuit made up of flat out straights, the ominous Audi power train is expected to be able to stretch its legs.
The season opener in Riyadh clearly reopened some bad blood between two of Formula E’s fiercest competitors. Two world champions, Nelson Piquet and Jerome D’ambrosio traded more than just paint in their battle for the minor placings with their history as title rivals seemingly thrown back into the limelight. Both Brazilians, having copious accolades between them never gave an inch. This rivalry set to continue as Formula E heads to the streets of Morocco.
The widely contested attack mode was shown to be a successful concept in Riyadh, with competitors trialling a variety of tactics, all playing out to ensure a diverse race strategically. Thisis expected to continue with teams once again left in the dark on the details till just prior to the race. Lessons will have been learnt from the first race, from event organisers, drivers and strategists alike.
Dragon’s Jose Maria Lopez was guilty of making the most high profile error in combat with the Mahindra of Jerome D’ambrosio. Meanwhile Nissan e. Dams made the strategic blunder of using Sebastien Buemi’s under the safety car; allowing his rivals to pressure and ultimately pass the former world champion.
However, while the racing was indeed given an extra dimension, organisers will be under pressure not to repeat their own error in the location of attack mode, many deeming the original position unsafe – provoking a change from the FIA.
IMAGES: FIA Formula E
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