BMW/Michelin claims maiden Formula E success
Round 1 of the 2018/2019 Formula E Championship in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, was won by Antonio Felix da Costa. The Portuguese BMW i Andretti Motorsport driver ...
After winning last season’s visit to Marrakech, Mahindra Racing finished on top again this time around thanks to Jérôme d’Ambrosio who was joined on the podium by Envision Virgin Racing’s Robin Frijns and Sam Bird. Antonio Felix da Costa tangled late in the race with his BMW I Andretti Motorsport team-mate while leading, and defending champion Jean-Eric Vergne (Techeetah) span at the race’s first turn.
After qualifying second on the grid around the championship’s longest track (2.971km), Vergne fell to 19
Bird led for the first 10 laps but was then passed in quick succession by da Costa and Alexander Sims. The BMW I Andretti Motorsport pair were still running at the front of the field when they tangled with 10 minutes remaining. In addition to side-lining da Costa, the incident played into the hands of d’Ambrosio who managed to claim the lead shortly before a Safety Car interruption.
Action resumed with just one lap to go and the Mahindra driver stayed ahead to secure the afternoon’s victory, almost three years after his last Formula E success in Mexico City in 2016. The Belgian was joined on the podium by Frijns and Bird, while Sims saved BMW’s day with fourth place at the flag.
Vergne fought back to a top-five finish, chased by DS Techeetah team-mate Andre Lotterer who recovered from a lowly start position to clinch sixth spot.
We didn’t really see the situation as a concern because we knew that the new MICHELIN Pilot Sport climbs to its ideal working temperature very quickly, said Serge Grisin, the manager of Michelin’s Formula E programme. “As a result, the drivers were able to benefit from its qualities on their first laps straight out of the pits, whether that be in free practice, qualifying or the race itself. We even saw a considerable improvement in the lap times posted in the course of each session, with a gain of close to three seconds during Free Practice 1 which took place at sunrise. For sure, this season’s cars are more powerful but a proportion of this improvement can undeniably be put down to our new tyre.”
The next round of the 2018/2019 FIA Formula E Championship will take teams to Chile for the Santiago E-Prix on Saturday, January 26.
Final positions – Marrakech E-Prix
1, Jérôme d’Ambrosio (Mahindra Racing), 31 laps
2, Robin Frijns (Envision Virgin Racing), +0.143s
3, Sam Bird (Envision Virgin Racing), +0.461s
4, Alexander Sims (BMW I Andretti Motorsport), +0.740s
5, Jean-Eric Vergne (DS Techeetah), +1.232s
6, André Lotterer (DS Techeetah), +1.457s
7, Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler), +1.633s
8, Sébastien Buemi (Nissan e.dams), +2.455s
9, Mitch Evans (Panasonic Jaguar Racing), +2.980s
10, Daniel Abt (Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler), +4.014s