By Aaron Bearden, Contributing Writer
Defending ABB FIA Formula E champion Lucas di Grassi and Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler got off to a strong start in their efforts to bounce back into title contention in Morocco.
Di Grassi streaked across the start-finish line on a full power lap with a time 1:20.310 as the sun rose above the Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan to set quick time in the first of two free practice sessions for Saturday’s Marrakesh E-Prix.
The lap was the quickest seen from the all-electric series at Marrakesh, topping the previous record set in 2016 by Sebastien Buemi (1:20.599).
Jerome d’Ambrosio followed in second for Dragon Racing with a time of 1:21.224, while Daniel Abt led the way for drivers that didn’t complete a lap at the full 200kw power with a circuit at 1:21.577.
Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s Mitch Evans (1:21.612) followed in fourth, with Sebastien Buemi (1:21.632) rounding out the top five. Sam Bird (1:21.651), Jean-Eric Vergne (1:21.694), Nelson Piquet Jr. (1:21.819), Felix Rosenqvist (1:21.830) and Oliver Turvey (1:21.897) completed the top 10.
Running in the cool, crisp air of the early morning on a surprisingly dusty race track, Formula E’s opening practice session of the weekend saw a host of problems hit various drivers in the field.
Venturi Formula E Team was hit the hardest of any, struggling with energy issues that brought breakout rookie Edoardo Mortara and Maro Engel to a stop on-track and forced yellow multiple time. The duo both struggled to find pace, finishing the session outside of the top 15 on speed.
Andre Lotterer stalled once on-track himself. Di Grassi scraped the wall en-route to his quick time and Luca Filippi brought out a brief yellow for a spin in Turn 1 early in the session.
While it never forced caution, the 12th and final turn on the 1.86-mile circuit also gave the field a litany of issues, with drivers including Piquet and Bird sliding well off-course at the turn’s exit before continuing on. If the trend continues, then the final turn could have an impact on qualifying later in the day.
The Formula E paddock will return for Free Practice 2 at 5:25 a.m. ET.
Marrakesh E-Prix Free Practice 1 Results
|1||1||Lucas di Grassi||Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler||1:20.310|
|2||7||Jerome d’Ambrosio||Dragon Racing||1:21.224|
|3||66||Daniel Abt||Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler||1:21.577|
|4||20||Mitch Evans||Panasonic Jaguar Racing||1:21.612|
|5||9||Sebastien Buemi||Renault e.Dams||1:21.632|
|6||2||Sam Bird||DS Virgin Racing||1:21.651|
|8||3||Nelson Piquet Jr.||Panasonic Jaguar Racing||1:21.819|
|9||19||Felix Rosenqvist||Mahindra Racing||1:21.830|
|10||16||Oliver Turvey||NIO Formula E Team||1:21.897|
|12||36||Alex Lynn||DS Virgin Racing||1:22.016|
|13||6||Jose Maria Lopez||Dragon Racing||1:22.105|
|14||8||Nicolas Prost||Renault e.Dams||1:22.195|
|15||23||Nick Heidfeld||Mahindra Racing||1:22.282|
|16||28||Antonio Felix da Costa||MS&AD Andretti Formula E||1:22.602|
|17||5||Maro Engel||Venturi Formula E Team||1:23.162|
|18||68||Luca Filippi||NIO Formula E Team||1:23.769|
|19||27||Tom Blomqvist||MS&AD Andretti Formula E||1:24.307|
|20||4||Edoardo Mortaroa||Venturi Formula E Team||1:24.972|