Ex-Formula 1 driver Jerome D’Ambrosio won his first ever Formula E race when he survived race attrition, in which BMW threw away a one-two finish when their two drivers collided, and claim victory for Mahindra Racing at the Marrakesh ePrix.
Seconds after the lights turned green, second place starter Jean-Eric Vergne (DS Techeetah) spun on Turn 1 after trying to take leader Sam Bird (Envision Virgin Racing) on the inside.
Spinning, Vergne slipped down to 19th place. Frustrated, the reigning champion spun around and fought on, determined to reclaim lost ground. Nissan e.dams’ Sebastien Buemi also suffered after swerving to avoid Vergne.
Just seven minutes into the race, HWA Racelab’s Gary Paffet damaged his car hitting his teammate Stoffel Vandoorne, sending both drivers out of the race. At the same time, Mahindra Racing’s Pascal Wehrlein pulled into the pits reporting technical issues. All three drivers race was ended after less than 10 minutes of action.
Geox Dragon’s Maximilian Guenther was the first to use Attack Mode, picking it up on the outside of Turn 3. Attack Mode can be engaged a total of twice during the Marrakesh race, with each use lasting four minutes.
Back at the front, Bird continued to lead the way with BMW i Andretti Motorsport’s Antonio Felix da Costa hunting him down in second. His teammate, Alex Sims behind in third separated Envision Virgin Racing’s Robin Frijns from his teammate.
Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler’s Daniel Abt picked up Attack Mode and in ninth place and boosted himself up to eighth ahead of NIO Formula E’s Oliver Turvey.
On Turn 4, Bird’s defence wasn’t enough to keep the BMW’s at bay and da Costa took the lead with Sims passing Bird to take second. Bird held third while his teammate Frijns remained in fourth, defending from the advances of Mahindra Racing’s d’Ambrosio and Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler) in sixth.
Pascal Werhline, Sebastien Buemi, da Costa and Vandoorne all received Aanboost, despite
Di Grassi made a dive for the Attack Mode Activation Zone, picking up the power boost while retaining sixth place. Engaging the power, di Grassi blasted past Sam Bird to take fifth, sending Bird down to sixth.
After an unfortunate start, Sebastien Buemi kept climbing through the middle of the pack making it to ninth with 20 minutes left of the race. Similarly, Vergne – after plummeting down to 19th – had climbed up to eighth with his teammate Andre Lotterer close behind him in ninth.
Making use of Attack Mode, di Grassi had climbed up from sixth to fourth place before the extra 25kW of power ran out, looking to make a move on d’Ambrosio in third with 16 minutes of the race left.
With Frijns and d’Ambrosio locked in a fierce battle for third, the BMW’s were out in front. Engaging Attack Mode, Frijns and d’Ambrossio closed the gap before Sims took out his teammate coming into Turn 7 in a disastrous bid for the lead, leaving da Costa devastated and in the wall.
Stranded on track, Sims paid the price for the move and dropped to fourth, giving way to Bird in third, Frijns in second and d’Ambrosio in the lead. With the Saftey Car deployed, the field regrouped with minutes remaining.
With one lap remaining and no safety car Frijns climbed up to second – the pack nose to tail. D’Ambrosio, defending his lead, crossed the line in first, screaming down the radio, ecstatic with the first time he’s taken the chequered flag in his Formula E career.