Mahindra's d'Ambrosio: No time to catch breath in tense last lap
Jerome d’Ambrosio says he had no time to catch breath during an intense final lap showdown in the Marrakesh E-Prix, where he staved off a late attack from Robin Frijns to score Mahindra Racing’s first ABB FIA Formula E win in a year.
D’Ambrosio found himself in the lead of the race after the leading BMW drivers Antonio Felix da Costa and Alexander Sims spectacularly collided spectacularly with less than 15 minutes to go.
However, his victory chances were put under threat by the resultant safety car, which returned to the pits with just one lap remaining in the race.
While d’Ambrosio managed to make a perfect restart to build an initial buffer, Virgin’s Frijns rapidly closed him in the final stages of the lap.
d’Ambrosio locked up into the tricky last corner but held on to win the race by 0.143 seconds, the closest victory margin in the series' history.
“I’ve known Robin since his nine years old,” d’Ambrosio told Motorsport.tv. “We were in the same go-karting team.
“He’s Dutch but spent quite a bit of time in Belgium. And I know Robin really well. I know that that when you have Robin behind you, he doesn’t settle for second.
“I knew that I had to make a great restart which I think I did. But I took it relatively easy in the last lap, it didn’t matter to finish with a tenth or a one second margin.
“But yeah it was intense. It’s always relief to cross [the finishing line] when it’s so close, three tenths, practically not breathing in the last half of the lap. And so definitely it was a relief. So happy to be on the radio and enjoy with the team.”
D’Ambrosio’s race pace in the second half of the race was impressive as he managed to make some decisive moves on Frijns, Sam Bird (Virgin) and Lucas di Grass (Audi) that ultimately won him the race.
The Belgian driver, who now leads the drivers' standings, believes BMW and DS Techeetah are still the series' benchmarks, with Mahindra “not too far behind” them.
“I think that for qualifying for sure [BMW] are strong all the time to put the car in the top five, both cars,” he said in the post-race press conference.
“In terms of race pace to be honest I felt I was pretty competitive today, in Riyadh as well. Now we need to improve qualifying for sure and start in the top two rows down the line, but a lot for energy for everything for pace.
“Clearly Techeetah would have been fast today as well if the incidents would have not happened [Jean-Eric Vergne spinning at first corner and Andre Lotterer making a mistake in qualifying]. BMW are really strong. I personally feel [Mahindra] are not too far behind in race pace.”
The next Formula E race takes place in Chile on January 26th.
Additional reporting by Benjamin Vinel
Jérôme d'Ambrosio, Mahindra Racing, 1st position, celebrates on the podium
Photo by: Andrew Ferraro / LAT Images
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