• Marrakesh: Positives outweigh negatives.

The Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team headed to Marrakesh for the fifth race of its debut season where the team faced fresh challenges at the Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan. While Stoffel Vandoorne had a tough weekend in Morocco and ended the race in P15, his team-mate Nyck de Vries had the pace to secure a decent result. Unfortunately, though, things turned out very differently in the end after he was given a drive-through penalty for a technical infringement

"Today was not our luckiest of days," said Team Principal, Ian James, speaking about the disappointing result. But there were also positive aspects that the team can take home with them from Marrakesh: "We can learn a lot from today's setback," Ian continued. "We have to get rid of our own mistakes, and leave decisions where they belong, on the track. Still, we will definitely pull everything together and regroup for the next race."

Race_Results_Marrakesh_E-Prix
Driver FP1 FP2 Qualifying Super Pole Race
#17 N. de Vries

P19

1:19.492

26 Laps

P6

1:17.790

17 Laps

P8 (Q2: P4)

1:17.743

3 Laps

P11

Grid: P4

FL: 1:21.560

P11

Grid: P4

FL: 1:21.560

#5 S. Vandoorne

P23

1:20.044

24 Laps

P20

1:18.577

17 Laps

P18 (Q1: P5)

1:18.218

3 Laps

P15

Grid: P17

FL: 1:22.055

 

Nyck de Vries in box in Marrakesh

Set-back for Nyck de Vries.

Nyck's race day started well. In qualifying, he went through to contest the Super Pole for the Top Six drivers that decides who gets the best positions on the grid for the third time in his rookie season. Despite grazing the wall, his lap time was good enough to secure fourth place and a grid position on the second row.

"I think there are a lot of positive things to take from this weekend and from this race, starting with our strong performance in qualifying and good start to the race," said Nyck. His start enabled him to move up into third place on the first lap, putting him in a promising position for the rest of the race. Unfortunately, he was handed a drive-through penalty shortly afterwards for overpowering while regenerating energy under braking, which dropped him back to the rear of the field. From there, he fought his way back up over the course of the 34 race laps to finish his fifth e-prix in eleventh position.

"We had a really strong package in the race, but unfortunately, we got a drive-through penalty for a technical infringement at the start," said Nyck after the race. "I subsequently made a very strong recovery and my pace was really good. I think that we could quite easily have finished on the podium in normal circumstances, so it's a shame. Still, the positives outweigh the negatives."

The reason for Nyck's penalty was that he had regenerated too much energy under braking and had exceeded the permitted limit. "It was clearly not his fault and it cost him a well-deserved finish far higher up the ranks today," said Ian James. "The reason for this seems to have been a problem with the engine management software, but we need to investigate further to understand exactly what happened."

In point of fact, the team had not changed anything between free practice and the race. However, the problem was immediately investigated after the race and a solution found.

"We did the right thing to let him take the penalty immediately after we were informed," added Ian. Nyck lost 18 seconds due to the penalty. "The gap of 20 seconds in the end ultimately showed his otherwise great pace today and that was the reason why we decided to let him pass Stoffel. He eventually made his way up to P11."

Nyck on the racetrack in Marrakesh in his car
Stoffel Vandoorne standing in the box in Marrakesh

Tough weekend for Stoffel Vandoorne.

Stoffel's race weekend in Marrakesh did not go smoothly right from the start. Even in FP1 on Friday, he had struggled to get to grips with his car on the track.

"I've been down on pace all weekend," he said. "We had a couple of issues in FP1, but the car felt much better today. However, my confidence was still not all there."

That became apparent in qualifying when he had to go out on track in Group 1 in accordance with his position in the overall standings. He did not string things together properly on his hot lap and as a result, started from P17 to eventually finish in P15.

"All in all, it's been a very tough weekend for me," said Stoffel. "I really struggled in every session and was never really on the pace at all, not even a little, which is very strange, because this is the first time that's ever happened to me. I now need to understand why."

And yet at the same time, Stoffel and the team had tried everything they could to get even more power out of the car but had failed in all their attempts. "As far as Stoffel is concerned, unfortunately, what we had seen during all the previous sessions continued," said Ian James. "He could not find his pace, even though he had a solid race. This is another thing that we will have to look into in the following weeks."

Still, his team-mate's pace made Stoffel feel quite optimistic as a very tough weekend drew to a close: "The good thing is that Nyck's pace was at least more normal and solid this weekend," said Stoffel. "Fortunately, we've got quite a long break ahead of us now and can analyse everything in detail." The Rome E-Prix is next up on the race calendar on 4 April.

Stoffel on the Racetrack in Marrakesh

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