Jean-Eric Vergne admitted that Saturday’s Marrakesh E-Prix was the most challenging race of his ABB FIA Formula E Championship career, scoring an impressive podium finish despite battling an illness all weekend.
The Frenchman missed Friday’s shakedown and Free Practice 1 due to illness and was in hospital for most of the day with an illness. He underwent a number of tests, including one to rule out coronavirus.
Visibly under the weather, he headed out on track for Free Practice 2 on Saturday morning and competed for the rest of the event.
He started the race from 11th but put on a solid display to move up the field to second, and was set to help DS Techeetah score a 1-2 finish until he ran out of energy on the final lap and lost a position to Max Guenther.
Nevertheless, the two-time reigning champion says he’s glad to be back on the podium, especially after such a physically demanding race.
“It was the hardest race of my entire career here at Formula E,” he said. “Despite not being able to take part in practice [on Friday], I had been watching everyone from hospital.
“I was still not feeling well [on Saturday], but the team did an excellent job. During the race I just put my head down and gave it my all.
“When my engineer told me midway through the race that I was in fourth, I could not believe it. I had a good fight with Max near the end… but I was sure he was going to overtake me eventually.
“I tried to defend second place as much as I could, however I did not have the energy left in the car.
“It’s so good to finally be back on the podium but now I will need some time to recover before the next race.”
Friday Illness Caused DS Techeetah Driver Shuffle
With Vergne out of action in FP1, DS Techeetah called up its test and development driver James Rossiter to take his place in the 45-minute session.
Rossiter, however, was initially set to drive one of the DS E-Tense FE20s during Sunday’s rookie test, but no longer could, having been granted an e-license to take to the track during an official Formula E session.
The Franco-Chinese team therefore called up Nico Lapierre to drive one of its cars during Sunday’s six hours of rookie test running, alongside Filipe Albuquerque in the other car.
Long-time prototype driver Lapierre won the LMP2 class at four of the last five editions of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and currently drives for Cool Racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
He set the 4th fastest time in the rookie test, which was topped by Nick Cassidy for Envision Virgin Racing.