Round Four of the 2021 Formula E Championship delivered action until the checkered flag with Vandoorne victorious and Sims returning to the podium.
Round four witnessed a safety car start for the second consecutive race.
For Cassidy starting on pole position, the safety car start would have seemed like a blessing in disguise, unfortunately upon the eventual start the New Zealander spun at turn three granting the lead to fellow rookie Norman Nato. It was later revealed that Cassidy’s spin had been the result of a brake issue affecting the Envision Virgin team.
Cassidy was able to continue his race after managing to keep his car out of the barriers but returned to the race much further down in eleventh. The New Zealander recovered well, taking advantage of the track’s drier conditions and overtaking both Bird and Buemi in quick succession.
Meanwhile, Andre Lotterer’s weekend went from bad to worse with the German driver receiving yet another penalty from the stewards. The Porsche team received a 10 second stop go penalty for changing energy components before the start of the race.
Shortly into the race, Nato came under pressure from both Wehrlein and Vandoorne, with the French and Belgian drivers barely avoiding contact. Nato fell behind the leading pair as Porsche and Mercedes battled for the lead of the race.
The man who started the race on pole Nick Cassidy once again found himself involved in drama, ending up in the barriers following a late move from Oliver Rowland. Cassidy sustained substantial damage to his car in the incident with a puncture and front wing damage visible. However, as to be expected, the rookie showed incredible grit and determination and continued his race from the back of the grid. Later in the race, Stewards awarded Rowland a ten second penalty for his role in the incident.
VICTORY FOR VANDOORNE?
As most drivers were initiating the first of their attack modes, a big hit for Lucas Di Grassi brought out the full course yellow. Di Grassi placed the blame on Buemi for the incidents but no action was taken by the stewards against the Swiss racer.
In the midst of all this, Vandoorne managed to move ahead of Wehrlein to take the lead before the full course yellow was instated. Wehrlein fell even further down the order on the restart when the German driver was caught unaware by Alex Sims who moved past the Porsche to take second.
The fight for the remaining podium positions allowed Vandoorne to establish a comfortable lead at the front of the pack. With fifteen minutes of the race remaining, Vandoorne had extended this gap to over five seconds.
Further down the field, Da Costa was one of the biggest movers, carving his way through the grid from fifteenth to ninth by the halfway point. Soon after he moved past Evans and Rowland with Fanboost, taking his Techeetah comfortably into the points.
HEARTBREAK FOR NATO
Behind the race leader, Nato moved past Wehrlein continuing the Venturi drivers strong show of form over the weekend. However, both Venturi’s found themselves with slightly less energy than those around them, something which would prove heartbreakingly pivotal in the closing stages of the E-Prix.
With six minutes of the race remaining and after a spike of oversteer inside his Audi, Rene Rast clattered into the track wall outside turn one prompting the arrival of the safety car.
In scenes that echoed the conclusion of yesterday’s race, Vandoorne’s lead was obliterated, bringing Sims, Nato and Wehrlein back into contention for victory. With less than a minute remaining, the race restarted providing one last lap of pandemonium in Rome.
Half way through the lap Mercedes driver Nyck De Vries suffered a dramatic DNF after careering into both Sam Bird and Oliver Rowland. Neither Bird nor Rowland were able to reach the checkered flag as a result of the incident.
Several drivers ran close to running out of energy before the checkered flag, the most notable of these, Norman Nato. The Frenchman appeared to reach the checkered flag in the nick of time, holding on to his maiden podium. However, Immediately after the conclusion of the E-Prix, the French driver was put under investigation by the stewards.
Nato was later disqualified from the race. Pascal Wehrlein was therefore promoted onto the third step of the podium, behind Vandoorne and Sims.
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S. Vandoorne Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team
A. Sims Mahindra Racing
P. Wehrlein Tag Heuer Porsche Formula E Team
E. Mortara ROKIT Venturi Racing
M. Guenther BMW I Andretti Motorsport
M. Evans Jaguar Racing
A. Da Costa DS Techeetah
S. Buemi Nissan E.Dams
T. Blomqvist NIO 333 FE Team
N. Mueller Dragon Penske Autosport
Featured Image Credit: @MercedesEQFE Twitter