12 January 2019: The new year got off to an incredible start in Formula E at the Marrakesh E-Prix. A crash at the start, a collision between the two leading drivers and an enthralling sprint finish meant there was a lot to talk about even after the race.
After a disappointing qualifying round, Lucas di Grassi and Daniel Abt caused a sensation during the race by getting off to excellent starts. The two Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler drivers wasted no time at all in moving up from their 11th and 16th starting positions to just behind the leading group. Di Grassi moved up five places in the first lap, Abt even managed to improve seven places. They finished the action-packed race, which saw BMW teammates Antonio Felix da Costa and Alex Sims cost themselves a one-two finish by colliding with each other, in seventh and tenth place.
In the end, the Marrakesh E-Prix was won by Jérôme D’Ambrosio (Mahindra). Robin Frijns (Virgin) came second, his teammate Sam Bird finished in third.
Lucas di Grassi had the fastest lap
“That was a crazy race,” said Lucas di Grassi. “After catching up with the leaders I wasn't far off the lead, but the safety car messed with our strategy a little bit. Seventh place and the fastest lap – we're definitely back in the game.”
“I got off to a really good start,” said Daniel Abt. “Even thereafter everything felt really good. I'd moved up to seventh place and was just off the leading pack. But after activating Attack Mode the first time, nothing much followed for me after that. We need to look into why that was the case.”
Allan McNish, Team Boss of the Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler team: “Lucas was fighting for a place on the podium for practically the entire race. The safety car came out at the wrong time for him. Everyone was experimenting a little with this new attack mode. Unfortunately we didn't have much luck with it. Daniel made his way quickly through the pack at the start. He was also a little unfortunate with the safety car. Most importantly though, today's race has shown that our Audi e-tron FE05 is a fast car.”
The new Attack Mode is key
The newly-introduced Power Zone was a hot topic of discussion at the opening race back in December. The FIA does not reveal how precisely the time has to be divided up and how often Attack Mode can be used in the 45-minute race until around an hour before the race begins. This does not leave the team much time to come up with clever strategies on the simulator. Another crux of this new Attack Mode: because the activation zone lies outside the racing line, drivers lose time and may even be overtaken. “With each passing race we are learning how to make the most of it,” said Audi Team Boss Allan McNish.
The third race of the season takes place on 26 January in Santiago de Chile
For the drivers, the intensive preparations for the Santiago E-Prix begin now. In the days leading up to the race in the capital of Chile, each and every driver will spend long hours in the simulator preparing himself to take on the new track and gathering important information.