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Dramatic Moments of 2018-19: BMW’s Marrakesh Madness

BMW looked to have the Marrakesh E-Prix wrapped up until its drivers crashed…

Photo: BMW

When BMW i Andretti team principal Roger Griffiths stared in complete disbelief at his monitor on Lap 25 of the Marrakesh E-Prix, he was in essence mirroring millions of people around the world watching an extraordinary scene play out live on television.

The gasp of shock in the media center told its own tale as Antonio Felix da Costa and Alexander Sims broke the cardinal rule of motorsport: Never collide with your teammate.

The fact that they were running 1-2 and seemingly in control of the race compounded the faux pas to excruciating levels.

“It was painful the morning after, I really felt it,” Griffiths told e-racing365 the day after the incident.

“You think about radio calls you should have made. Think about what I should’ve said to the drivers before the start of the race. You think about all these things, which is natural.”

While Sims recovered and finished fourth, da Costa’s car went in to a ‘sleeper mode’ and was unable to rejoin.

The look of anguish on his face was one of the defining images of the season and one that contrasted starkly to the joy of Ad Diriyah just a few weeks before.

Back in the pits BMW went into some kind of crisis mode knowing the cameras would be fully on the team within minutes of the checkered flag falling.

Full credit was rightly given to Griffiths and the drivers in their collective mea culpas afterwards. The damage had long been done but the post-mortem was just beginning.

What exactly had happened and why?

Many in the paddock believed that BMW was over-complicating the race and actually attempting to manage the pace in order to judge the ‘plus one lap’ at the end of the 45-minute timed race to its benefit.

This is quite plausible but something that Griffiths denied.

Four laps prior to the incident the BMW pair enjoyed a five-second gap to third placed Jerome d’Ambrosio.

But when the Mahindra driver, who was pulling a substantial train of cars behind him, closed to within 1.2 seconds just three laps later, undue panic set in.

Sims felt compelled to make a move on his teammate and da Costa attempted to shut the door. The rest is rather unfortunate history.

“I just think we managed the situation up to that point poorly,” Sims told e-racing365 after the incident.

“I don’t think we can apportion blame on one individual though.

“The mistake was the breakdown in communication and we need to learn from that, obviously.

“I should have said more about what I felt we should do and we need to discuss it as a team.”

Whatever the precise reasons, it mattered not for BMW as a significant points haul was tossed away in one of Season Five’s most dramatic moments.

Sam Smith is e-racing365's Formula E Editor. A 20-year veteran in motorsports media, including press officer roles in both the FIA Sportscar Championship and at Lola Group, Smith is a well-known face in the Formula E paddock, where he served as series editor for Motorsport.com from 2014-17. Contact Sam

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