Reigning FIA Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne was left frustrated by a costly error that “wasted” his chance of winning the Marrakesh E-Prix. 

The DS Techeetah driver started on the front row alongside polesitter Sam Bird and appeared to have settled for second place on the run down to Turn 1 until attempting an ambitious late lunge for the lead. 

Vergne locked up and made contact with the Virgin Racing driver at the apex of the corner, sending himself spinning to the back of the pack, while Bird managed to keep control of his car and maintain the lead.

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While Vergne was left to rue the rare mistake, the Frenchman revealed he had purposely spun his Techeetah machine to avoid wiping out former teammate Bird.

“It was not the race I wanted and overall I’m very frustrated as it was a wasted win today,” Vergne said. 

“We’re racing drivers in the end of the day and we go for the gap, so when I saw it I went for it, but quickly realised that I couldn’t make it so I had to spin the car so that I didn’t crash into Sam as I didn’t want to ruin his race. 

“It was my fault, but if this is the biggest mistake I’ve done in Formula E so far and I still got P5, there’s still a lot to be happy about.”

Vergne set impressive pace in his Techeetah as he scythed his way through the field to complete his second recovery drive in as many races and seal fifth, having reduced what had been a 10-second deficit to the leaders down to just four at the finish. 

“In the end, I overtook 15 cars gaining seconds on the leaders and I was only four seconds behind the them in the last couple of laps which shows the incredible pace of our package,” he added. 

Team principal Mark Preston echoed Vergne’s positive comments about the encouraging speed of the Chinese squad's season five package.

“To have both of them fighting their way from the back and ending up in the Top 6 of the race shows what pace we have in the cars and what stellar drivers we have,” Preston explained. 

“We closed the gap by half to the leaders throughout the race in the end, and that’s quite something.

“It’s a shame to not have come away with the win today but we’ve scored some valuable points and we know from last season that playing the points game in the long term is what wins you a championship. 

“We’ve strengthened our championship lead with another seven points to our nearest rival and we’re ready for another successful Santiago E-Prix.”

Vergne is 12 points adrift of new FE leader Jerome d’Ambrosio in the 2018/19 drivers’ standings, while Techeetah has increased its advantage at the top of the teams’ championship to seven points over Mahindra and BMW-Andretti.

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