2017-18 ABB FIA Formula E Champion Jean-Eric Vergne believes that his collision with Envision Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird at the start of the 2019 Marrakesh ePrix was the biggest mistake that he has made during his time in the all-electric single-seater series.
Vergne qualified strongly in Marrakesh, starting the race from the front-row of the grid in second place alongside his nemesis Bird, who was on pole position.
Vergne got a bad start and was battling Nissan e.dams driver Sebastien Buemi on the run down into the first corner, while the Frenchman made an unrealistic dive on Bird for the race lead. This saw Vergne spin his DS Techeetah car while Bird held onto the lead, which left Vergne facing the wrong way in the middle of the track as he fell down to last place.
The Frenchman produced a fantastic recovery drive, making his way from twenty-second up to fifth place in an attrition-filled race around the Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan. But Vergne has conceded that on balance this was his worst moment in the series thus far.
After the race, Vergne told Motorsport Week, “We’re racing drivers in the end of the day and we go for the gap, so when I saw it I went for it, but quickly realised that I couldn’t make it so I had to spin the car so that I didn’t crash into Sam [Bird] as I didn’t want to ruin his race.
“[It] was my fault, but if this is the biggest mistake I’ve done in Formula E so far and I still got P5, there’s still a lot to be happy about.
“In the end, I overtook 15 cars gaining 16 seconds on the leaders and I was only four seconds behind them in the last couple of laps which shows the incredible pace of our package.”
Vergne’s team-mate Andre Lotterer ended a difficult qualifying session in twentieth and recovered to finish just one place behind Vergne in sixth. So while the DS Techeetah squad didn’t maximize their potential in Marrakesh, they have shown that they have huge potential to deliver on throughout the season.
DS Techeetah currently lead the teams championship on 47 points with Mahindra Racing and BMW I-Andretti Motorsport tied for second place, some seven points further behind. The next round of the 2018-19 ABB FIA Formula E Championship is the 2019 Santiago ePrix on 26 January.