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Felix Rosenqvist won his second consecutive E-Prix on Saturday, overtaking Sebastien Buemi late on in Marrakesh to finish on top of the podium.
For much of the morning, the Circuit Moulay El Hassan had been blanketed in fog which had rolled in off the snow-covered peaks of the nearby Atlas Mountains. This lingered into the early afternoon, where Buemi secured pole position after setting a fastest lap of 1m20.355s in the superpole session.
The fog lifted later on, allowing the thousands of fans that had gathered at the circuit’s packed Allianz eVillage to enjoy clear skies and bright sunshine ahead of the start of the race.
Hollywood stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Orlando Bloom – celebrating his 41st birthday on the same day – were amongst those watching on from the stands as Buemi remained in the lead for 29 laps. However, the Swiss could do little to prevent the impressive manoeuvre Rosenqvist executed while passing him on the inside of Turn 7 with just four laps remaining.
The victory for the Mahindra Racing driver was enough to see him move to the top of the ABB FIA Formula E drivers’ championship, replacing Britain’s Sam Bird, who finished the race in third position. It followed the Swede’s victory in Hong Kong in round two and came 14 months after he had finished third in the first ever Marraskesh E-Prix. Ironically, he had started that race in pole position, only for Buemi to pass him in the race’s final stages to claim the win.
“It feels pretty good to be top of the championship, it means I don’t have to risk as much in upcoming races so I am delighted,” 26-year-old Rosenqvist said after his win.
The Rookie of the Year has undoubtedly started the current campaign strongly, continuing the good form he displayed during the final stages of last season where he won Round 7 in Berlin and finished second in Round 8 (also in Berlin) and in Round 10 in New York.
Losing his lead after so long was understandably disappointing for Buemi, with the Renault.e.dams driver later saying that he felt he would have been able to fend off Rosenqvist but for problems with executing his Fanboost.
“It was not reset for the second car,” the Swiss explained. “Only when I tried to use it and it didn’t work we thought about it.
“I expected the Fanboost to work, then because it didn’t I thought ‘Do I block or not? Do I use it at Turn 10?’
“I got out of rhythm and I should have closed the door better.
“He [Rosenqvist] would have struggled [to pass me after that] because the pace would have been similar.”
Bird, who won the opening race of the season in Hong Kong, was also left frustrated as technical problems with his own car saw him to slip to third after starting behind Buemi on the grid.
“We’ve had an issue since Hong Kong,” the DS Virgin said. “We had tried to address it but it came back, and it came back big time in the race. But still, third place is strong points and it’s a third place with a big issue.”
Bird’s problem’s nearly allowed Jaguar Racing’s Nelson Piquet to make it on to the podium. The Brazilian, the winner of the inaugural Formula E season, finished less than a second behind Bird in fourth place.
Elsewhere, reigning world champion Lucas di Grassi was one of three drivers to fail to complete the race. The Audi Sport Abt driver retired from fourth after suffering a loss of power. After finishing 17th and 14th in the races which made up the Hong Kong double header last month, di Grassi is yet to register a single point so far this season.
Mahindra Racing top the team standings with 75 points following the action in Morocco, although their other driver, Nick Heidfeld, was forced to finish with a damaged car after a late collision involving Venturi teammates Maro Engel and Edoardo Mortara.
ABB FIA Formula E‘s next race comes from South America, with Chilean capital Santiago playing host to Round 4 on February 3.