After a long day of testing at the Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan, following the 2018 FIA Formula E Marrakesh E-Prix, it was Audi Sport ABT Shaeffler’s rookie driver Nico Muller who made headlines after setting a new Formula E lap record with a time of 1:19.651 – smashing yesterday’s fastest lap of 1:19.760 set during the race.
“I had lots of fun today. My first time in a Formula E car was a very successful one,” said the 25 year old Swiss driver. “I really enjoyed myself and I got to do a lot of laps…being the quickest is the icing on the cake but what’s more important is that we did the work that was planned. I got my first taste of a very fun series, in a very fun car.”
In the morning session, a miscalculation on Turn 1 for Dragon’s Andrea Caldarelli, brought out the red flag after he found himself in the tyre wall with damage to the nose and front suspension. Running soon got back underway though, and as the test reached its halfway point it was Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s Paul Di Resta quickest. His stablemate Pietro Fittapaldi followed up the team’s strong morning pace and came second in the afternoon’s session with a time of 1:20.597.
With the rookie test open to any driver who does not, and has never held an eLicence, it resulted in an eclectic mixture of proven talents and young guns. Two of the top drivers from the FIA Formula 3 Championship both enjoyed their first outings in the all-electric single-seater, with Joel Eriksson third quickest in the morning session for DS Virgin Racing and Maximillian Gunther third in the afternoon timesheets for DRAGON.
Despite Muller’s sensational lap, it was a day of mixed fortunes for Audi as technical difficulties continued to plague FIA Formula 2 driver Nyck de Vries’ car for most of the running. He did manage to get out late in the afternoon, and set the tenth fastest time in the #1 car as the sun began to set.
As the cars crossed the finish line for the final time in Marrakesh, FIA Formula E Championship Founder and CEO Alejandro Agag reflected on a successful day of running, saying: “I think this is a great initiative to have this rookie day. Formula E is about the future and these guys are the future talent. To give them an opportunity to drive the cars and for us to get to know them better is great. The quality of the people here is amazing and many others would have loved to come but there is only 20 places here.
“The racing yesterday was fantastic. For me, destiny is a funny thing – last year, Sebastien Buemi [Renault e.dams] overtook Felix Rosenqvist [Mahindra Racing] to win the race and this year, Rosenqvist overtook Buemi. I think it’s a fantastic sign of how quickly things can change in Formula E.”
The ecosystem of electric racing drivers has expanded and yet more of the world’s top talents have experienced the unique world of Formula E, and the chase for the fourth championship title resumes in just three weeks’ time in Santiago de Chile on 3 February.