The second race of Gary Paffett’s Formula E career was a disappointing affair as the HWA RACELAB driver showed promising pace in practice before technical issues limited his qualifying pace, then an incident with his teammate, Stoffel Vandoorne, at the start of the race forced him to retire.
Saturday’s Marrakesh E-Prix started promisingly for Gary and his HWA RACELAB squad, with Gary delivering a positive result in the first free practice session as he finished in 12th place and within touching distance of the top-ten places at the Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan.
Continuing to work on understanding and developing the car in the second practice session, Gary finished the free practice in 15th place and the final data was gathered before qualifying in Morocco.
"We had a good practice in the morning when everything ran smoothly. The pace was good and I was very happy with the car. We did not have any issues at all, it was a really good start to the day.”
Gary was then drafted into group four for qualifying but here Gary and HWA RACELAB suffered their first setback of the race day as balance issues coupled with power unit problems resulted in Gary having to settle for a 19th place starting position - with his qualifying lap more than a second slower than his fastest time from practice.
“Things were a little worse in qualifying. We had balance issues and the car was more difficult to drive. We also had problems with the power units, which resulted in us having to start from well down the grid.”
Starting the race from a lower position than he and his team would have hoped for after practice, Gary’s race was theoretically over after the first corner. Poor conditions at the start saw several cars struggle at turn one, including Gary’s teammate Stoffel Vandoorne who made an overambitious move at turn one and ended up hitting Gary in the turmoil. Gary then suffered a puncture as a result of the collision and after three laps of the race - Gary retired to bring an end to a disappointing day.
“In the race itself, Stoffel braked a little too late into turn one and hit me from the side, causing damage to the car. I then suffered a puncture shortly after and was forced to retire. It is a shame because the pace in practice was actually really good. However, we have learned a lot over the course of the weekend and will be better prepared as a result - ultimately, however, it has been a frustrating day."
Ulrich Fritz, Team Principal HWA RACELAB, was highly disappointed with the result of the race. "That was nothing short of disastrous. First the issues with the power shutdown during qualifying, then the two cars hit each other in turn one. That is obviously something that should never happen. Unfortunately, however, that was the case today. I feel sorry for the whole team. Everyone has worked so hard in recent weeks, but they were not rewarded for their efforts today. However, I am confident that the results will come if we continue to work the way we have done so far.”
Heading to South America, the next round of the 2018/19 ABB FIA Formula E Championship takes us to Chile for the Antofagasta Minerals Santiago E-Prix on 26th January 2019.