Chris Soulsby  |    |   0  |  18 January 2019

Ulrich Fritz: Marrakesh E-Prix 'nothing short of disastrous' for HWA

HWA Racelab Team Principal Ulrich Fritz has described the team's second Formula E outing at the Marrakesh E-Prix as "nothing short of disastrous," with the team failing to see the chequered flag.

In Marrakesh, both Stoffel Vandoorne and Gary Paffett retired from the race, with the pair colliding with one another in Turn 1, moments after the race start and during the carnage at the left-hand hairpin, with second place starter Jean-Eric Vergne spinning from the front of the pack after making contact with Sam Bird, forcing most of the field to take evasive action. 

While Vandoorne retired immediately as a result of the damage he sustained after causing the accident, reigning DTM champion continued running in the race, retiring after six minutes of running, spinning out in Turn 5 with a left-rear puncture. 

Prior to the race in Marrakesh, the team also faced difficulties in practice and qualifying, with Vandoorne having a powertrain shutdown on his 250kW flying lap while Paffett struggled with the balance on his customer Venturi VFE05 machine. 

"That was nothing short of disastrous," said Fritz.

"First the issues with the power shutdown during qualifying, then the two cars hit each other in Turn 1. That is obviously something that should never happen.

"Unfortunately, however, that was the case. I feel sorry for the whole team.

"Everyone has worked so hard in recent weeks, but they were not rewarded for their efforts today. However, I am confident that the results will come if we continue to work the way we have done so far.”

While Marrakesh was frustrating for Paffett, the British racer described the race as another learning experience for HWA, with the team heading to Santiago more prepared:

"It is a case of mixed feelings after the race in Marrakesh," he said.

"We had a good practice in the morning, when everything ran smoothly. The pace was good and I was very happy with the car. We did not have any issues at all, it was a really good start to the day.

"Things were a little worse in qualifying. We had balance issues and the car was more difficult to drive. We also had problems with the power units, which resulted in us having to start from well down the grid.

"In the race itself, Stoffel [Vandoorne] braked a little too late into Turn 1 and hit me from the side, causing damage to the car. I then suffered a puncture shortly after and was forced to retire.

"It is a shame because the pace in practice was actually really good. However, we have learned a lot over the course of the weekend and will be better prepared as a result - ultimately, however, it has been a frustrating day."

Ex McLaren Formula 1 driver Vandoorne added: "Unfortunately, that was a very short race for us. It was all over by Turn 1.

"The conditions were tricky at the start, with a lot of smoke and poor visibility. A lot of cars were swerving about and came off the track.

"I was possibly a little overambitious and was unable to avoid hitting Gary [Paffett] in all the turmoil. It is sad that we were not able to finish the race.

"It would have been valuable for us to get some kilometres under our belt. Very disappointing, but we will look to bounce back in Santiago."

After two races, HWA Racelab is one of four teams yet to finish inside the top 10, sitting at the bottom of the Teams' Championship with zero points.

Formula E's 2018/19 season will continue on January 26 with the Santiago E-Prix. 

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