Mitch Evans started the day well with a fantastic drive in FP2, to set the fastest time. The Kiwi driver qualified into Super Pole with a P6 time and started the race in P5 due to a penalty for Antonio Felix Da Costa. His team-mate Nelson Piquet Jr. also qualified in the top ten in P9.
With both drivers starting on the right side of the grid they were forced off the circuit to avoid a first corner incident and while they survived to remain in the race they lost ten places avoiding the melee. Mitch also incurred mechanical damage to his rear diffuser when the Mahindra of Pascal Wehrlein made contact with the back of his Jaguar I-TYPE3.
The New Zealander showed great pace and competitive energy management to climb back up the order, despite a damaged car, to secure ninth place and two valuable points. Nelson also gained five places and eventually finished in 14th.
Panasonic Jaguar Racing return to the Marrakesh track on Sunday for the ‘rookie’ test where Brazilian Pietro Fittipaldi and Briton Harry Tincknell get behind the wheel for a day of development.
JAMES BARCLAY TEAM DIRECTOR, PANASONIC JAGUAR RACING
We will leave Marrakech frustrated. We had a car capable of being on the podium today; we were confident with Mitch’s pace, topping FP2. Unfortunately, Jean-Eric Vergne’s move into turn one was never really going to work. It ruined the race for us – for both cars. It is a real shame that someone else’s actions took us out of contention for the podium this time. We ran with good pace – Mitch moved forward and into the points despite a lot of damage to his car. It’s very positive to look at that forward momentum and energy that we can still carry despite the car damage. Going from fifth to 15th and then finally finishing ninth I think Mitch drove really well and the team recovered with a good strategy. Some days you just don’t have the luck and today was one of those days. But the positive we take away is that we have a fast racecar and as a team we have podium pace.
MITCH EVANS PANASONIC JAGUAR RACING DRIVER #20
We’ve been quick all day which is promising. The FP2 fastest time was a positive this morning. We didn’t quite optimise qualifying as we had hoped – I made a mistake during my Super Pole lap, but that’s just the way it rolls sometimes. You go all in with the Super Pole lap, sometimes it pays off and sometimes it doesn’t. Today was one of those days – the incident on the first corner forced me to go wide and I lost ten positions. It’s something out of our control and very frustrating. The luck isn’t rolling with us at the moment. The Jaguar I-TYPE 3 is quick, so that’s really important for the duration of the championship.
NELSON PIQUET JR PANASONIC JAGUAR RACING DRIVER #3
I got caught at the beginning after the incident and fell too far down at the back end of the pack, and that was it. From a strategy perspective, we were perhaps cautious and could have gone a bit more aggressive but it’s easy to say that with hindsight. It shows that if something happens and you fall to the back, the risks are minimal if you attack a lot. Because if you don’t, and you have a lot of energy left over at the end, then everyone else defends at the end. It was a tough one; first lap, first corner destroyed our race. But there are still things to learn, things we can improve to make the car even better.