• Marrakesh 2022: Damage limitation

The ABB FIA Formula E World Championship returned to Marrakesh this weekend for the first time since 2019. It was already obvious before any of the cars turned a wheel at the 2.971-km Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan that the track would present teams with many challenges with high temperatures being the chief among them.

However, the Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team was faced with other hurdles to overcome, but Nyck de Vries and Stoffel Vandoorne overcame them in the race with two strong performances and a double points-scoring finish. "If I would have to describe this weekend in two words, I'd probably use quite a cliché: damage limitation," said Team Principal Ian James.

Nyck in fight to secure important result for the team

Things were not looking too pretty after qualifying. Both Nyck and Stoffel were eliminated in the group stages and had to start the tenth round of the current season from ninth and 20th place respectively.

Nyck gained several positions early on in the race and improved to take sixth place which is where he took the chequered flag after 34 laps.

Nyck de Vries  sitting in the cockpit of his mercedes-eq silver arrow 02

"A double points-scoring finish is good when you consider where we started on the grid," said Nyck. "From that point of view, it wasn't such a bad day for us, but of course, we always want to do better. I think there was a bit more potential today, but at the same time, you have to take the points when and where you can. Looking at the bigger picture and considering the weekend as a whole, this was by no means a poor result for the team."

nyck de vries in discussion with Ian James

Valuable points for Stoffel in title fight

Stoffel started the Marrakesh E-Prix from 20th on the grid after being forced to retire during the preliminary stages of qualifying. He too gained a number of positions early on and fought his way twelve places up the field after going on an amazing charge. Coming home in eighth place enabled him ultimately to secure valuable points towards both World Championships.

"I don't know quite what to think. I'm torn two ways," said Stoffel afterwards. "On the one hand, I'm frustrated, because we would have been much further up the grid had it not been for our problems in qualifying. And yet, I have to bear in mind that we managed to limit the damage once again, coming from the back of the grid. But in my opinion, the main thing is that you just can't leave anything on the table."

Stoffel Vandoorne focussing before the race

Stoffel had been struggling with the brakes since the first practice session. These problems got worse in qualifying, making it impossible for him to post a decent lap. "We simply can't afford that, especially not in a World Championship where every single point counts," he told us, adding. "It was all about scoring one, two or as many points as we could in the race."

Thankfully, the Marrakesh E-Prix was a race, in which such a thing was feasible. Stoffel: "If ever there was a race where that was possible, it was this one, with the heat, the tyres, the power management and everything associated with that. I certainly think that we achieved the maximum with P8 after starting out in P20!"

Stoffel Vandoorne in the cockpit of his silver arrow

Ian James: a tough weekend, but no reason to worry

After what they had experienced in Jakarta, the team went into the weekend with the aim of improving on their recent performance in qualifying. "But we failed to put ourselves in a position to capitalize on that," said Ian James. "That meant that we very much on the back foot. Obviously, the incident in FP1 didn't help in Nyck's case."

The team will be sure to look closely at that before the next race weekend, analysing all the data and making sure they put their package together in a way that ensures that both drivers will find themselves better placed in future.

"So, a tough weekend all in all," said Ian. "We come away from Marrakesh with some points, but obviously, we have given ourselves a challenge moving forward as we head off to New York."

Ian James talking on the grid

After Marrakesh there have been changes at the top of both World Championships. With his victory, Edoardo Mortara (139 points) took the lead in the Drivers' Championship and is ahead of Jean-Eric Vergne on 128 points and Stoffel on 125 points; The Mercedes-EQ driver had led the standings since Monaco. Nyck (73 points) is in seventh place.

And at the same time, the Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team (198 points) has now slipped back into third place in the Team Classification and now finds themselves behind Venturi Racing (205 points) in the lead and DS Techeetah (203 points), who are running them a close second. However, there is still everything to play for in both competitions.

"Over the past couple of years, we as a team have suffered from a bit of a mid-season slump," said Ian. "It's obviously not a position we like to find ourselves in. I don't see that as a reason to worry though. The quality of the team, the calibre of the women and men who work within the team is such that we can quickly pull ourselves out of difficult situations. That gives me cause for optimism as we head into the last six races of the season."

The next two races are scheduled to take place very soon in just two weeks' time in New York on 16 and 17 July.

silver arrow on track in Marrakesh

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