After a weekend of hardship for several drivers, the Marrakesh E-Prix promised a tale of comebacks, but who on the gird would triumph and take the top step?
At the race start, Antonio Felix da Costa continued his day of success, pulling away from the field and maintaining his P1. The three cars behind him also stayed in their positions.
Although the start was clean, Mitch Evans swiftly began his climb up the ranks following his failure to qualify. Jean-Eric Vergne was inspired by a similar need to overtake after his own setbacks this weekend and on lap 3, he passed James Calado for P8.
Jerome D’Ambrosio slipped past Calado, too, but the move didn’t stick as the Briton reclaimed P9 from the Mahindra.
Nyck de Vries passed Andre Lotterer, putting himself into a podium position. The success didn’t last for long though. De Vries was handed a drive-through penalty for overpowering during regeneration. After taking his penalty, the Dutchman regained the pack a whole 20 places further back in P23.
Further forward, Vergne was continuing his climb through the field. With over 30 minutes of racing left he had managed to make up and impressive 5 positions and was now riding round in P6, hunting down Sebastien Buemi.
After activating attack mode, Vergne managed to reach Buemi and slipped past him on the straight. The Frenchman wasted no time in catching the back of Edoardo Mortara, he breezed past him and refocussed his effort on the car of Andre Lotterer, his teammate from last year.
With a minute left on attack mode, Vergne passed Lotterer and slid into P3. Lotterer responded by activating his own attack mode for additional power but Vergne’s focus was already on the car of Maximilian Günther ahead. This proved to be his downfall as Lotterer reclaimed his podium position.
In true Lucas di Grassi style, as D’Ambrosio looked to pass Calado, he took the battle to three-abreast and swept past both cars, proving he can never be written off from a race. Meanwhile, at the very front of the pack, Günther was taking the fight to da Costa. After trying to pass a couple of times, he made the move stick becoming the new man to beat.
Whilst our last race winner Evans was carefully continuing his climb, Günther was reminded that he shouldn’t use too much energy in trying to pull away from da Costa who was nestled comfortably behind him.
Pascal Wehrlein activated his attack mode and wasted no time in snaking past Sam Bird to take P12, edging himself closer to a points finish.
Da Costa pulled his car through the attack mode gates, barely keeping Lotterer from taking P2 from him. He cruised past Günther, reclaimed his leading position, and concentrated his efforts on pulling away from the field. Günther activated his own attack mode, desperate to stay on the tail of the new race leader and hopefully reclaim the position. Before long, he was sandwiched by Techeetahs as Vergne passed the car of Lotterer for the final podium position. Lotterer dropped back further as his own teammate passed him for P4 and began closing in on Vergne.
Evans was continuing his own fight to the front as with 10 minutes of race time remaining, he entered P10 making his race quite the comeback drive. Vergne was also continuing his own impressive recovery drive. As his attack mode began ticking down into the final seconds of additional power, he crept past Günther claiming a Techeetah 1-2. All they had to do was hold on.
Looking back to Evans, his position had improved even further. As his own additional power timer hit 0, he found himself comfortably in P8. Despite this success, all eyes were on Vergne and Günther in P2 and 3. Günther tried to slip past but Vergne jumped to defend late, just about keeping his place.
As the clock hit zero and the final lap began, Vergne was on only 2% of usable energy as Günther tried to pass at every opportunity but couldn’t quite make it. Through the final few corners, Vergne’s energy hit 0% and the BMW slipped past him, stealing P2.
Despite being passed on the final few corners, Vergne and Evans both made incredible comeback drives on the streets of Marrakesh, with one making it on to the podium despite feeling unwell, and the second pulling his car up from P24 to P6.
Top 10 race classification:
Antonio Felix da Costa 46:52.757
Maximilian Günther +11.427
Jean-Eric Vergne +12.034
Sebastien Buemi +12.282
Edoardo Mortara +15.657
Mitch Evans +16.335
Lucas di Grassi +18.706
Andre Lotterer +19.498
Oliver Rowland +20.126
Sam Bird +20.295
Image Credit: FIA Formula E Media