In a murky Marrakesh, we saw near misses, minor bumps and miscalculations during the Qualifying session. Drivers were pushing their cars to the absolute limit but it was Antonio Felix Da Costa who will start P1 for the E-Prix.
Round 5 of the 2019/2020 Formula E season sees us in Marrakesh. Much like the previous season, we have seen a continuous change in the Championship standings and, so far, each race has seen a different driver on the top step f the podium. With 12 turns and a length of 2.971 km, what will Marrakesh bring? Who will come out on top? How much will this change the Championship? Let’s go and find out!
The four group qualifying format continues where four groups of six drivers each go out to see where the can place for the E-Prix or, better yet, find themselves in Super Pole and gain three extra points which can be crucial for their team. Naturally, we start with Group 1 which saw current leader, Mitch Evans, along with Alexander Sims, Stoffel Vandoorne, Sam Bird, Lucas Di Grassi and Da Costa try to set the pace for no one to beat. Sims was out first with 3 minutes and 30 seconds remaining and most of the cars follow suit. Evans and Da Costa out with 1 minute and 40 seconds to go, with Evans last out the pit lane. Da Costa put in a really good sector 1 and Sims seemed rather quick but Da Costa continued to put in a fantastic lap and went fastest with a 1.17:640. Unfortunately, Evans could not even set a time as he took the chequered flag without setting a quick lap through a miscalculation from his Panasonic Jaguar team.
Group 2 then took place with Nyck De Vries, Oliver Rowland, Jean-Eric Vergne, Maximilian Gunther, Andre Lotterer and Eduardo Mortara. Out first was De Vries with 3 minutes and 30 seconds remaining and, different to the first group, all other drivers followed. Vergne was going to have a tough job on his hands to find the pace as he missed out on FP1 (which took place on Friday 28th February) due to illness. Luckily, Vergne got the all clear and was back today to try and make up for lost time. He will be starting P11 which is a good effort from the DS Techeetah driver. De Vries had a great lap and, even though he hit the wall at Turn 11, De Vries finished the session 5th and into Super Pole. Gunther also had a fantastic lap by setting purple sectors and topping the time with a 1.17:542, which was the quickest time in general Qualifying. Lotterer and Mortara also had good sessions which meant they made it into Super Pole as well.
Moving on to Group 3, we saw Robin Frijns, Sebastian Buemi, James Calado, Jerome D’Ambrosio, Pascal Wehrlein and Daniel Abt. Wehrlein was out on track first with 3 minutes and 10 seconds remaining and all cars followed bar Calado from Panasonic Jaguar Racing. The Jaguar team wanted to make sure their earlier mistake was not replicated so sent Calado out 20 seconds earlier than Evans in his session and Calado managed his best qualifying to date in P10. D’Ambrosio joins Calado by starting in the top ten but all other drivers in that group were P14 or below. Frijns was another driver who hit a wall at Turn 10 which cost him a lot of time. Buemi was the only driver from Group 3 to make it into Super Pole.
Finally, we had Group 4 with Bredon Hartley, Ma Qinghua, Oliver Turvey, Nico Muller, Neel Jani and Felipe Massa. All of the cars in the final group made their way to the track with 3 minutes and 20 seconds remaining. Turvey found his car very close to the wall and had a big lock up which affected his lap. Hartley did well in sector 2 but could not find the pace in the final sector which put him P12. Massa also did not have a good lap with a slide at Turn 3. Hartley is the only car to start on the top half of the grid from Group 4, whereas the other cars start P17 or lower.
Moving on to Super Pole, we found Gunther, Lotterer, Mortara, Da Costa, De Vries and Buemi fight it out for the Julius Baer Pole Position. First up, Buemi came out and put in decent sectors but not as quick as we had previously seen. Buemi put his car close to the wall at Turn 8 but all in all, was a tidy lap and set a time of 1.17:811. Next, we saw De Vries who had oversteer at the start but managed to keep it on the line. De Vries’ lap was very neat and pushed his sectors to set a time of 1.17:590. Following on, we had Da Costa who immediately smashed the first sector and seemed to be flying around the track. Da Costa was using all of the curb and his sectors only improved to set a fastest time of the session and the day of a 1.17:158. Next up, we had Mortara who started off neat but he lost time in sector 3 as he had to keep the rear out of the wall and will start P5 for the race. The penultimate driver was Lotterer who threw his car out onto the track but his lap did not match as he kept it rather tame. Lotterer seemed up on Da Costa in sectors 2 and 3 but due to his start, left him short and will start P3. Last but not least, we saw Gunther to try and steal the top spot and things looked promising with a good sector 1 and was up at sector 2 but with a lock up at Turn 11, all was lost and he starts P2.
Da Costa was very pleased by the performance and hopes to convert his multiple second place finishes into a win after gaining the pole position. So, continuing our questions, will Da Costa be winner number 5 in Season 6? Who will top the championship? Don’t forget to check back with us to find out!
Feature Image Credit: DS Techeetah Twitter Page