As Marrakesh gears up for this weekend’s E-Prix, we hear from DS TECHEETAH’s Antonio Felix da Costa, Sebastien Buemi of Nissan e.dams and NIO 333’s Oliver Turvey on being back in the Morocco, the challenge of racing here in July, and preparing for one of the most tactical races on the calendar.
Antonio Felix da Costa, DS TECHEETAH
"It's good to be back here – I probably have some of my best and worst memories from this race. It’s been packed with fans the last few times we came here. It was the last race just before the whole pandemic situation, and I won that one, so there are some great memories.
"It's going to be a very different race tomorrow. We normally race here in February or March when it's a bit colder, and now being July it's obviously going to be a lot warmer. It’s a different approach to the race, but I think we're at a level now in Formula E that everyone knows exactly what to do. I believe we're going to have an interesting race tomorrow. I’m looking forward to it.
"It's will be easy now [after winning at Le Mans last weekend]! I'm kidding! It's definitely shorter. As an athlete, as a racing driver, coming off the back of a good result is always motivating. I haven't had the easiest or smoothest season this year in Formula E, but we've been getting closer to the top each race – in Jakarta, we were fighting for pole, and we’ve been qualifying in the top five almost every race, so we're close. There are still a few things that we're not nailing as a team on my side of the garage – I have to say, JEV has been has been really putting almost everything together – but we’re close. Winning Le Mans is good preparation for this race, obviously, it’s good for my motivation.
"We've just been fine tuning everything. It’s so competitive right now that even the smallest things that you might not get right will influence a couple of positions straightaway, be that in qualifying or in the race. In Jakarta, we did a few things that didn't actually work as we thought they would, but we seem to learn another lesson every race. We’re still having issues finishing fourth and fifth, but we have to be happy – I'm obviously not here to finish fourth or fifth, but at the competitive level that we are now, any finish in the top five is a decent result.
"I think the championship is now pretty much done for me, so I have an important role to help the team finish first in the Teams' World Championship, and if I can help my teammate at some point, that's going to come into play as well. So at the moment, I’m still targeting race wins and podiums. I haven't had a podium this year, but we've been close a few times, so that's the goal.
"Obviously, the year before [his convincing Season 6 win in Marrakesh] I was also leading for most of the race, until I crashed with my teammate. You never want that to happen, but to then come back to the garage, understand why that happened and why I was going to lose that race in the first place, we learned a big lesson for the year after and I was able to execute a good race. It was probably the most strategic race I've done in Formula E. It’s probably a track where using other drivers around you is very efficient and effective. If you're smart and you have a good game plan, you can do well here."
Sebastien Buemi, Nissan e.dams
"I think we’re lucky not to be racing here next week, because it looks like it’s 43 degrees next Saturday! It’s good to be here – it’s a different philosophy, we have to manage the battery a lot more than they used to do here in the past. It's nice to come back, it’s the kind of track we’re used to, it’s a bit of a mix.
"The race might be totally different to what we're normally used to here, so hopefully we will be able to extract the most out of our car. I think Jakarta was a good track for us, and it was nice to qualify P6. Unfortunately, I couldn't really keep up in the race.
"I think we should be able to fight for 40 points – we need to do a perfect race if we want to achieve that. You're always trying to improve. I’ve had a new engineer now for a few races, so you also need a bit of time there to get on top of everything. [A Formula E race] is just a one day event: in a normal world, three or four races is a long time, but actually in Formula E, it's just three or four days in which you really work closely with your engineer. So I think I needed a bit of time to adjust, but we'll see what happens.
"You need good pace in this race, because it's one of the easiest tracks to pass and with the amount of energy saving we have to do, even if you qualify at the front it's obviously good but you need the pace in the race. I think you have a lot of torque/toe effect here, long straights, so you have to be tactically on top of the game there, managing the battery and the energy. You need to go for a lot of efficiency here, a lot more than Jakarta, or Piccadilly Circus in London as an example. It's really at one extreme of energy management."
Oliver Turvey, NIO 333 FE Team
"It’s great to be back in Marrakesh. I've always enjoyed driving this track – I think it's one of the fastest tracks we go to, a lot of long, flowing corners, so I’ve always enjoyed driving here. It’s definitely going to be a challenge with the hotter temperatures, and I’m hoping that gives us some opportunities. In Jakarta, we had a pretty strong race in the hot temperatures, so I’m looking forward to getting out there again.
"It's been quite a tough few seasons for us as a team. I think we've been making quite good progress this season, although it's so hard to show that now with the level of the competition. Rome was a strong race, I had two decent races in Berlin, and actually, Jakarta was one of our strongest races. Moving forwards in the race and finishing P12 with a pretty clean race shows we've definitely been making progress as a team. I think every weekend we're just trying to improve, and the aim for the end of the season is to keep improving and keep progressing, with a lot of focus towards Gen3 as well.
"It was great to get the chance to be the first in the Gen3 for NIO 333. We had a pretty successful test – the first day was lots of systems checks, but we had a really good second day. The team has been pushing extremely hard for Gen3, and there's been a huge amount of effort by the whole team. It's a good step up in power, definitely, the acceleration feels really good, and there are different tyres. It's a huge challenge, but I enjoyed the test."
Published on 1st July 2022