The Rome E-Prix was nothing short of a jaw-dropper with a red flag pile up, power losses and superb overtakes. DS Techeetah had been fierce all weekend but it was Panasonic Jaguar who reigns supreme!
At lights out, we saw Stoffel Vandoorne rocket past Jose Maria Lopez to take 3rd position. Lopez continued to struggle as we saw him going straight on at the hairpin but, luckily, no one made dramatic contact and everyone made it safely round the corner with Andre Lotterer keeping the top spot but Mitch Evans following closely behind.
Good news for Alexander Sims who managed to make up a number of places towards the back of the grid but the same could not be said for Maximilian Gunther. Gunther had a huge slide which caused a lot of damage to his car, both wheel arches flying off around the track. Further heartbreak for Lopez as he pushed his car straight into Sam Bird who sustained damage and came over the radio to say his race was over!
It was then reported there was a Yellow Flag near turn 16 but what we discovered was much worse. Lopez’s luck had all but run out as we found his nose in the wall at turn 18 with Gary Paffett nudged into the back of him and Jean Eric Vergne underneath Paffett and a huge blockage to the rest of the field. The Yellow Flag was quickly turned into a Red Flag to help clear the pile up.
Thanks to the Red Flag conditions, most of the cars involved in any on track scuffles were able to head down the pit lane and get the cars back up to scratch ready for the race restart. Unfortunately, Paffett was not one of the lucky ones and his race ended after his car was sandwiched between the Dragon and Techeetah. Someone who did have luck on their side was Bird. Bird was able to nurse his car back to the pits and have it fixed under the Red Flag conditions, ready for the restart. Sims also had a meeting with the wall which happened before the Red Flag was put in place, so, he too was able to get his car to the pits and have the damage fixed.
It seemed like forever but eventually, the lights went green again and we could get racing again for the Rome E-Prix. Many of the drivers opting to head straight for Attack Mode behind the safety car which saw an extremely close fight between Oliver Rowland and Robin Frijns. Rowland managed to come out on top of this particular battle but it was very exciting to see action everywhere in the field.
Both Venturi Formula E Team members seemed to be having a good weekend and during the race, Edourdo Mortara managed to pass teammate Felipe Massa, giving close racing. Unfortunately, with things looking so up, it all came crashing down with Mortara stopping on track in sector 1 and shortly after, Massa came to a halt at turn 14 causing a yellow flag.
Going back to Attack Mode, we saw Sebastian Buemi try to take the fight to Vandoorne for 3rd place but Vandoorne managed to activate Attack Mode on the next lap and keep his position. Vandoorne almost got close to the two front runners but a few little mistakes over some of the corners cost him some time, but an all round amazing drive from the HWA Lab driver to bring his car home in his first podium position.
With Lotterer being labelled as “one of the most aggresive drivers” by the man who was following him, it was no surprise that he was defending first place with all his might. Evans activated Attack Mode and was all over the back of the DS Techeetah driver but Lotterer kept closing the door. Eventually, Evans got right beside him and managed the overtake with Lotterer very close to being put into the wall. Just as Evans began to settle into his first place status, he was being to slow down over the radio by his team with the fear their battery would not make it to the end of the race. Lotterer got as close as you could expect with a tiny tap between the two drivers but Evans managed to slow his car down enough to conserve energy and ultimately, win the race!
Lotterer tried as hard as he could to make it a back to back victory for the DS Techeetah team but could not find a way past the Panasonic Jaguar. Gunther was not as lucky as the lead two cars and ran out of energy before the race could finish. We have now seen 7 different winners over 7 rounds of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship with another 6 races still to go. Join us next time as we find Formula E in France for the Paris E-Prix on Saturday 27th April.
Feature Image Credit: ABB FIA Formula E News Story