Rookie Rosenqvist takes Formula E pole in Marrakesh

© FIA Formula E

Felix Rosenqvist sprung a surprise on the Formula E grid in qualifying for the Marrakesh ePrix on Saturday by snatching pole position for just his second race in the series.

Recent Indy Lights racer Rosenqvist moved into Formula E with Mahindra for the all-electric series’ third season, putting his street course knowledge to good use on debut in Hong Kong to record the fastest lap of the race.

Rosenqvist impressed through qualifying in Marrakesh, finishing second in the group stages before taking provisional pole with his final lap of the session in Super Pole.

Jean-Eric Vergne had set the pace for Techeetah early on and was the only driver who could deny Rosenqvist pole, only for drama to strike and a mix-up with the team’s timings to leave him stranded at the end of the pit lane with the red light on.

With Vergne unable to head out and set a time, Rosenqvist could revel in securing his maiden pole in the series at just the second attempt.

“We knew in Hong Kong we were quick. We even took it to the next step here with pole position here, very nice,” Rosenqvist said.

“We had to push quite hard, but the car has been really good all day. Big thanks to the team and the engineer for making it perfect.”

Defending champion Sebastien Buemi qualified second after a solid run through qualifying, while Sam Bird slotted into third place for DS Virgin Racing ahead of Hong Kong polesitter Nelson Piquet Jr. Vergne was left fifth on the grid after the issue.

Track improvement meant the later runners in the group phase had the upper hand, leaving Daniel Abt on the bubble in P6 despite looking comfortable after Q3. Nicolas Prost finished seventh in the second Renault e.dams ahead of Oliver Turvey, while the Andretti pair of Robin Frijns and Antonio Felix da Costa rounded out the top 10.

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E

Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.