Sam Bird claimed the chequered flag for the first ever Formula E race in Rome. He was joined on the podium by Lucas di Grassi and Andre Lotterer.
Sam Bird claimed victory as Rome played host to the all electric racing formula for the first time. Despite late pressure from Mitch Evans and Lucas di Grassi, the British driver was able to celebrate his second victory of the season.
“It wasn’t easy but congratulations to everyone. To get the first win in Rome is amazing – this was always going to be a historic race,” Bird stated from the podium. However, he wasn’t able to snatch the championship lead from Jean Eric Vergne after his win in Punte Del Este.
Felix Rosenqvist claimed pole and held the lead for first half of the race, before a crash forced him to retire from the race on lap 23. “I just hit the kerb,” he explained over the radio, after loosing the opportunity to reclaim the championship lead. This allowed Bird to take control of the grid.
However, it wasn’t always plain sailing and Bird faced a challenge from Mitch Evans who made several attempts to snatch the lead away from him. Evans was forced to begin defending, rather than attacking, as di Grassi closed in for second place.
Di Grassi, who was gifted one of three FANBOOST awards, while not allowed to fight for the win, was able to place pressure on Bird by closing the gap to just nine-tenths of a second.
This mix of defending and fighting seemed to leave Evans in the wars, and he ran out of useable energy quicker than expected. This allowed Lotterer to claim the final podium spot. Eventually, Evans crossed the line in a disappointing 9th place. Behind Lotterer was Daniel Abt in the Audi and Jean Eric Vergne in the Techeeta, who remains comfortably at the top of the drivers championship, 26 points ahead of Bird.
Despite drama during qualifying, which saw Jerome d’Ambosio crash in the pit lane, he was able to recover and finish in 7th. Maro Engel claimed 8th, while Edoardo Mortara snatched the final points scoring position.
However, Oliver Turvey, Tom Blomqvist and Luca Filippi, who was award the FANBOOST, faced a tougher day in the office as the three drivers came together on track. Nelson Piquet was forced to retire after issues with his seat belt, while Jose Maria Lopez came to a halt on track with technical issues. Alex Lynn also failed to meet the chequered flag, summing up a disastrous weekend for him after crashing in both FP1 and FP2.
The team are back in action on the 28th of April, as the take to the streets of Paris.
Feature Image Credit: Bird claims historic victory in Rome