Mahindra’s Felix Rosenqvist stormed to pole position today, in Formula E’s first foray into African soil. In a dramatic twist, group-leader Jean Eric Vergne was denied a chance to set a Super Pole lap, after a team error saw him fail to leave the pit lane in time. Rosenqvist capitalised on Techeetah’s mistake, edging out reigning champion Buemi, who starts alongside him in the front row. Sam Bird, Nelson Piquet Jr, and Jean-Eric Vergne make up the top five, while a scrappy session from the usually superior Di Grassi sees him start the race in P12.
Marrakesh ePrix 2016
The group sessions saw D’Ambrosio take to track first, followed by Lopez, Da Costa, Prost, and Ma Qing Hua. D’Ambrosio began his warm-up lap, feeling out the new track, before leading the charge into the 200kW laps that would set their time. Initial sector times saw D’Ambrosio a second off the pace, with the fastest first sector going to Prost. As the drivers flew over the line in succession, Prost was unsurprisingly quickest (1:21.777), Da Costa second (1:22.073), Lopez third, (1:22.073), D’Ambrosio fourth (1:22.681) with undisclosed issues seeing Ma Qing Hua fail to set a 200kW lap.
Buemi has flying start
Reigning champion Buemi sought clear track, as group two headed out, with Heidfeld, Turvey, Evans, and Sarrazin following. Heidfeld immediately pushed to set a 200kW lap, with a quick first sector slotting him into initial third. Buemi completed a neat lap, setting purple sectors along the way, a time of 1:21.350 seeing him into the top spot. Oliver Turvey sought to capitalise on improvements at NextEV, taking third from Heidfeld. Evans could only manage seventh, with a 1:22.355, before the Venturi of Sarrazin pushed him down into eighth, a tenth up on the Jaguar.
Vergne finishes strong
Group three saw Lucas Di Grassi out first, immediately followed by team-mate Abt, with Engel, Duval, and Vergne to follow. Di Grassi appeared to struggle with oversteer, a tenth down in initial sector times dropping to six tenths after a scrappy final sector, seeing him cross the line in initial sixth. Team-mate Abt, meanwhile, shot into second, knocking Heidfeld out of Super Pole. The track continued to present difficulty for both Dragon cars, with Duval only managing P13. Maro Engel crossed the line in P9. After a neat lap, and proving quickest of all through sector two, the Techeetah of Jean-Eric Vergne rocketed into first, and the Super Pole session.
The final group session saw Bird take the track, followed by Rosenqvist, Piquet, Frijns, and Carroll. Rosenqvist took straight to a 200kW lap, driving perfectly on the limit through an exciting lap that saw him into second, (1:21.175) and knocking Oliver Turvey out of Super Pole. Bird’s 200kW lap saw him matching Vergne’s times initially, but a kiss into the wall with his rear tyre shaved off time, seeing him into fourth, pushing Prost out of Super Pole. Piquet left nothing to chance, his aggressive lap seeing him take the final Super Pole position, knocking out Daniel Abt. Robin Frijns took ninth, just ahead of team-mate Da Costa. Adam Carroll locked up his Jaguar, and left the track at Turn 1, losing four seconds to cross the line in last place.
Super Rosenqvist takes pole
With drivers setting Super Pole laps in reverse order, Piquet took to track first. With fifth the worst he could achieve, his attempt at an aggressive lap came unstuck, seeing him run wide, lock up, and finally graze the wall, over-driving his way to an off-pace 1:23.879. Bird’s earlier crash in FP2, saw the Brit cautious to achieve a better balance, pushing just enough to set a decent 1:21.686 lap. After missing the apex at T1, all eyes were on Buemi. A neater drive followed, with him taking initial pole (1:21.546) despite his excursion. As Rosenqvist took to track, throwing the Mahindra around, using kerbs to balance control and aggression, he posted a 1:21.509 lap, ahead of Buemi, and ensuring a front row position. Rosenqvist’s pole was confirmed, as a confused Vergne sat in the pit lane, watching the time tick down and pit exit lights turn red, an operational mistake by Techeetah robbing him of a chance to set a lap time in the Super Pole session.
In the aftermath of qualifying, Sebastien Buemi received a five-place grid penalty for carrying a fire extinguisher that did not meet the minimum weight. He will now start the race in P7.
The first Marrakesh ePrix takes place at 4pm GMT, this afternoon. Keep it EV Performance!
— EV Performance (@ev_performance) November 12, 2016