Formula E

Felix Da Costa takes Marrakesh pole as disaster strikes at Jaguar

3 Mins read
Antonio Felix Da Costa on pole
Credit: DS Techeetah

Antonio Felix Da Costa has taken his first pole position with DS Techeetah at the 2020 Marrakesh ePrix after a close Super Pole contest saw less than a tenth of a second seperate the top three drivers on the grid.

Felix Da Costa now has a massive opportunity, starting way ahead of his title rivals with Alexander Sims from eighth on the grid being the closest protaganist.

The first qualifying group saw BMW i Andretti Motorsport driver Sims head out first followed by Stoffel Vandoorne, Lucas Di Grassi and Sam Bird. Felix Da Costa and Mitch Evans meanwhile decided to stay in the pits to do just the one lap at the end of the session. But the big news from qualifying was that the New Zealander was unable to get across the line in time as Jaguar failed to get him out in time, meaning that he will start the race from the back of the grid.

Among those who set a laptime, it was Felix Da Costa who went fastest followed by Sims, Lucas Di Grassi, Sam Bird and Stoffel Vandoorne. While the Portuguese racer made it into Super Pole, his fellow title rivals failed to progress into the pole position shootout.

Qualifying group two in Marrakesh saw a huge foray of drivers make it into Super Pole with Maxmillian Gunther setting the fastest time in group qualifying of a 1 min 17.562 as the BMW driver is hopeful to see a return to the podium in Morrocco. Also making it into Super Pole was Mercedes star Nyck De Vries, Venturi racer Edoardo Mortara and Porsche Racing driver Andre Lotterer. Oliver Rowland qualified ninth for this afternoon’s ePrix as Jean-Eric Vergne who missed practice yesterday due to being unwell will line up eleventh on the grid.

While there was so much expectation from group three, the drivers failed to deliver as it appeared that the difference in laptime between the respective groups was not as bad compared to other races. Envision Virgin Racing driver Robin Frijns will ine up just ahead of his team-mate Sam Bird in fourteenth after the Ducthman gave the wall a big wack on his lap at turn 10. Just behind the Virgin duo will be Mahindra Racing’s Pascal Wehrlein who had a very fishtaily Formula E car which constituted in a poor performance. Daniel Abt’s season continued on a downward tragectory as the German will start seventeenth for this afternoon’s ePrix.

There was better news for last year’s race winner Jerome D’ Ambrosio as the Belgian put together a lap good enough for seventh on the grid. He was just ahead of the Panasonic Jaguar Racing driver James Calado who qualified a season’s-best tenth on the day when all turned sour on the other side of the garage. Sebastien Buemi made it into Super Pole for the third race in a row as the Swiss racer hopes to build some momentum after a lackluster start to his campaign.

The final qualifying group saw no inspirational performances as the two guys under the biggest pressure, Porsche’s Neel Jani and Venturi racer Felipe Massa qualified 21st and 22nd despite no obvious mistakes and having very fast race cars. There was better news for Brendon Hartley as the New Zealander qualified P12 with the sister GEOX Dragon Racing car of Nico Muller lining up seventeenth on the grid. But there was no shock at NIO as Oliver Turvey will lin-up twentieth with Ma Qinghua 1.8 seconds off the pace as the last qualifier.

Super Pole got underway with Sebastien Buemi heading out first for Nissan e.dams. The Swiss racer made a couple of errors throughout the lap, notably at the turns seven-eight chicane, but put together a clean benchmark laptime of a 1 min 17.811. Next up was Nyck De Vries and despite matching him in the first and last sectors, a good mid-sector saw him go two-tenths quicker than the Swiss racer. Antonio Felix Da Costa was up next and the DS Techeetah driver was a man on a mission and set a blistering 1 min 17.158 to take provisional pole by over four tenths of a second.

Edoardo Mortara was up next, but had nothing to write home about, slotting into fourth place after losing two tenths in the final sector. Next up was Andre Lotterer and after a sub-par first sector, the German put together a monsterous middle and final sector only to come up short against the Portuguese racer by 95-thousandths of a second.

Maxmillian Gunther was the final man to run and after the middle sector, he was a tenth and a half up on Felix Da Costa only to lock up into turn eleven and lose two tenths in the final sector which cost him his first career Formula E pole position.

So it will be Antonio Felix Da Costa who will start on pole position for the 2020 Marrakesh ePrix which will start later today at 1330 GMT.

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NCTJ Graduate and nominated finalist for Sir William Lyons Award in November 2018. Formula E and Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy TCF correspondent.
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