Photo: Sam Bloxham/LAT/Formula E

Audi’s Lucas di Grassi Tops FP1 in Marrakesh

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

Position Car No. Driver Team Time
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
7 25 Jean-Eric Vergne Techeetah 1:21.694
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
11 18 Andre Lotterer Techeetah 1:21.993
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

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Aaron Bearden is a Contributing Writer for Motorsports Tribune, handling coverage of both the Verizon IndyCar Series and ABB FIA Formula E Championship. A native Hoosier, Bearden has attended races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway since he was three years old. He can be found on social media at @AaronBearden93.