By Aaron Bearden, Contributing Writer
What appeared to be a promising day ended with zero points and disappointment for the third-straight race for defending ABB FIA Formula E Championship Lucas di Grassi.
“Our car is fast but obviously it’s frustrating to have reliability issues in two consecutive races,” Di Grassi said. “We once again showed what potential we have but I did not score any points. We have to get better in that respect. But I have full confidence in Audi that the issues will be resolved.”
Looking to make up for a disastrous start to his Season Three title defense in the HKT Hong Kong E-Prix doubleheader, di Grassi topped the charts with a full power lap in Free Practice 1. When the Brazilian followed that result up with the runner-up result in a 1-2 sweep with teammate Daniel Abt in the final practice, the promise of the Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler cars in Morocco appeared confirmed.
But in qualifying, things began to fall apart.
Di Grassi started the session strong, securing a spot in the Super Pole round. Early in his final time trial he appeared to hold pace with pole-sitter and rival Sebastien Buemi, but as the lap went on di Grassi’s machine began to struggle with an internal gremlin – something the 33-year-old reported as an MGU error.
The issue relegated di Grassi to fifth on the starting grid, but his team assured both their driver and fans that the problem had been solved before the race.
But that was quickly proven wrong in the opening laps. Di Grassi slowed as he again voiced the dreaded phrase from earlier in the day: “MGU error.”
He ultimately limped his machine back to pit road, but was unable to continue on afterward.
A promising day had once again ended in disappointment, and an opportunity to gain points had instead left di Grassi with a 54-point gap – more than two complete races – on driver’s championship leader Felix Rosenqvist.
“This was not our day today and not the result that would have been possible,” Abt Schaeffler Team Principal Allan McNish said. “We had fast cars but Lucas’ race was over far too early following a technical issue that we still need to analyze.”
Another race weekend loss, a desperate di Grassi will get another chance to bounce back on Feb. 3, when the Formula E paddock heads to Chile for the Santiago E-Prix.
— LUCAS DI GRASSI (@LucasdiGrassi) January 13, 2018