To seal his third win of the season for ROKiT Venturi Racing, and with it the championship lead.
Swiss driver Edoardo Mortara is the man in form in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship as the ROKiT Venturi Racing driver has been on the podium in the last three races, and came to Morocco with a title campaign fully at the front of his mind (2 July). With championship leader Stoffel Vandoorne qualifying in a lowly 20th – Mortara and the other title protagonists had to harvest the opportunity in the red city. Following Qualifying, Mortara was to line-up in the middle of a DS TECHEETAH sandwich, ahead of fellow title challenger Jean-Éric Vergne, but behind pole sitter António Félix da Costa who was in search of his first podium of the season.
As the race went green at the Circuit Moulay El Hassan – it was to be an incident free opening few corners, as the drivers jockeyed for position around the 2.9-kilometre circuit. Battery health was to be the biggest factor in the race, with a mixture of conservative energy recovery and calculated front-footed attacks important for a strong result under the African sun.
A strong start by the front three saw them quickly scamper away. With the front three disappearing, Mitch Evans (Jaguar TCS Racing) and Oliver Rowland (Mahindra Racing) had to go on the offensive, quickly dispatching Tag Heuer Porsche driver Pascal Wehrlein.
Temperature conscious DS TECHEETAH rolled the dice first, with both gold and black cars activating the Attack Mode six minutes into the race – while the batteries were in a cooler and more operative window of performance. Mortara mirrored the move and continued the top three status quo after the first Attack Mode.
Less than five minutes later, Da Costa registered his second use to put himself into second. Behind him a chasing pack were all eager to fight for positions in the opening phase of the race. Oliver Rowland, Mitch Evans and now Jake Dennis (Avalanche Andretti) were on the attack in the early stages – the opposite of the DS TECHEETAH machines who were eyeing performance in the closing stages.
While Da Costa was sweeping through the turn three activation zone for a second time, Mortara got the hammer down as he needed to stretch out a 1.5 second gap if he was to have any chance of holding his lead. In a handful of laps, he got his head down and when he had to take the wider line into the activation area, the ROKiT Venturi Racing driver had enough to hold his position and with three minutes of attack mode in his pocket, he was able to pull out a buffer.
Rowland was on a mission behind, utilising his Attack Mode to leap frog Evans and Dennis in the early phase, but the early aggression was to be his downfall, as the British driver in the second half of the race had to claw back 2% worth of battery usage on those in front of him.
As the race entered the second half, a synchronised DS TECHCHEETAH overtake into turn one from Da Costa on Evans and Vergne on Rowland allowed the Sino-French team into the box seats in the hunt of Mortara and the race win. Vergne had played the patient game in the first half before turning up the wick in the second, following his teammate past Evans and into third.
It was now a three-horse race for victory with the pack of DS TECHEETAH’s hunting down the lone ROKiT Venturi Racing car. Da Costa tried to get close, but was conscious of his battery level, and with 11 minutes left on the clock, team strategy saw a switch, allowing title hopeful Vergne to slingshot past Da Costa. In response, Mortara used his Fan Boost, pulling a vital few extra tenths on a charging Vergne. Tried as he may, Vergne couldn’t do anything against an on form Mortara and DS TECHEETAH swapped the cars back five minutes later. Da Costa whilst in third had been able to unlock more pace, and was let off the leash. The tactic was to push the Venturi in every sector on every lap in the final dash to the flag. Similar on energy it was a straight fight between Mortara and Da Costa.
Mortara had an answer to Da Costa’s every move and was able to coast and recover energy in the tighter, limited overtaking spots and had the pace to defend on the quicker sections. Mortara as the clock struck zero took the chequered flag, and with it his third win of the season. The Venturi drivers strong run of form sees him leap to the summit of the standings with an 11-point margin. Da Costa who finished in Mortara’s slipstream will be disappointed with the missed opportunity, but will be pleased with his first podium of the season, and with it vital team points.
Vergne who had almost settled for third, saw Evans make a move around itsoutside on the final lap to steal the last spot on the rostrum.
Lucas Di Grassi in the sister ROKiT Venturi Racing machine enjoyed locking horns with his rivals on his way to fifth, including an incredible pass on Dennis whilst defending Nyck De Vries in his Mercedes EQ who would round out the top six.
Dennis, who has seen an up turn in recent form finished seventh ahead of the outgoing championship leader Vandoorne who had battled his way up into eighth ahead of Sam Bird. Oliver Rowland, had shown a great deal of promise early on, but had to extensively energy save in the last quarter of the race after his hard-charging antics – coming across the line tenth.
Next up for the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship will be on the streets of New York for rounds 11 and 12 of the series. The Big Apple will host a billboard double-header blockbuster on 16/17 July.
EDOARDO MORTARA, ROKiT VENTURI RACING, #48 said:
“I must admit after Free Practice 2, we had a lot of issues with the brakes and I was not thinking we could turn this thing around, but I have an incredible team behind me and they managed to do an incredible job already in quali. Then during the race, they had a plan, they had a strategy, we executed it and it was perfect. You have the guys putting you under a lot of pressure. I was trying to be intelligent, trying to manage. There was a lot to manage today - tyres obviously, but also battery temperatures, energy. It was very difficult. I had some issues with the car today, I was a little bit by myself let’s say, but we did that and I’m extremely happy."
ANTÓNIO FÉLIX DA COSTA, DS TECHEETAH, #13 said:
“Well we had a good game plan. It looked like Edo had a little bit of an edge on us. I tried to keep it modest until the end. Other things like in the beginning and middle of race compromised my end. I’m here, I’m happy, it’s so great to be back in Marrakesh. I’ve always had good races here, even when I crashed from the lead near the end of a race. So amazing job to everyone here again. First podium of the season for me. It’s been a tough one. It’s been hard to kind of punch through the wall. The team has been great picking me up and still believing in me. So that’s awesome and thanks for them for giving me a great car today. We tried. In the end it looked like JEV didn’t quite have it and it compromised my race a little bit but it’s part of the game. I wear the team badge and that’s how it is.”
MITCH EVANS, JAGUAR TCS RACING, #9 said:
“That was a tough one to manage, they threw everything at us: battery management, thermally and also energy-wise. Obviously battling with the other guys, I lost a bit of ground at the start, but then made it back. The team guided me really well today. It was hard to manage but we got there. Another podium, a lot of points, another trophy - I’m happy. Obviously you’ve got a rough strategy and you’ve got to play through instincts a bit. To be honest, I settled for fourth and then JEV was struggling towards the end managing something so I was able to pick him off at the end and that’s full credit to the guys for guiding me through really well.”