Yes, we said it. BMW is not the quickest car in Formula E, despite steamrolling pre-season testing and dominating the early part of the season, with the exception of them crashing into each other in Marrakesh.
Instead, they will be chasing Techeetah this season in their quest to become Teams’ World Champion. Techeetah hasn’t had the start of the season they were hoping for, but they should have won the Riyadh ePrix and they should have taken victory in Marrakesh. Instead, they had to settle for second and fifth place after the opening two rounds of the championship.
In Saudi Arabia, Jean-Eric Vergne would have won the race if he did not get a drive-through penalty for using over 200kW of power during the race. The reigning champion had no control over this, as a power spike after hitting a bump, jumped his power usage to over the race mode allowance.
Despite receiving a drive-through penalty and dropping back to fifth place, Vergne was able to fight back and finished in second place. However, in Marrakesh, Vergne has only himself to blame to why he didn’t win the race, as he collided with Sam Bird at the first corner after attempting a late move down the inside to pass the Englishmen.
The collision sent Vergne spinning and leaving him at the rear of the field with 45 minutes to try and do something about it. That is exactly what he did, which is why we believe Techeetah are still the team to beat in Formula E. Vergne was able to take 15 seconds of race time away from the BMW’s from the moment he spun his car around on lap one, and until the safety car was deployed. In Formula E that is unheard of. So imagine if Techeetah had not shot themselves in the foot in the first two races. How far ahead would they already be?
However, BMW is definitely Techeetah’s closest rivals and the German manufactuer are not a million miles away from catching Techeetah, but they should have taken full advantage of Techeetah’s mistakes in Marrakesh. But they didn’t. Alexander Sims and Antonio Felix Da Costa came together with under ten minutes to go Marrakesh.
If they hadn’t of done that. BMW would have taken 43 points away with them, and Vergne would have finished seventh Andre Lotterer in eighth leaving them with a total 10 points.
Therefore, the collision cost BMW 33 points in the championship, and it doesn’t matter if that is race 1 or race 13, you can’t throw that many points away. However, with teams only able to now use software to catch up lost time, BMW will be hoping they can find time to catch their deficit to Techeetah as if Formula E has a normal race – which is extremely rare – then Techeetah should be able to simply drive away from BMW.