Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s Mitch Evans claims an emotional first victory in Rome with Andre Lotterer (DS Techeetah) in second and Stoffel Vandoorne (HWA Racelab) bringing home both his and the team’s first podium finish in the Formula E Championship.
Few countries can rival the passion Italy has for motorsport, be it the enthusiastic Tifosi or classic manufacturers like Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Lancia or Ducati. For decades the Italian Grand Prix in Monza is the heart of motorsport. But since 2018 Rome is making its mark for future mobility with the Formula E in town. Still, you could see the impact of Formula 1 on race day with many fans wearing red Ferrari caps to the Formula E event and loud cheering for Felipe Massa, now driving for Venturi.
The weather in April made the whole day unpredictable with sunshine in the morning, but then rain before and after the qualifying, which led to a wet and slippery surface – not the easiest conditions on a narrow street course and indeed the race was chaotic. Andre Lotterer surprised many by securing the first pole position in his Formula E career – even though he made a small mistake and Panasonic was already celebrating Mitch Evans on P1, but he had fought hard.
Rome is home to one of the longest tracks in the Formula E calendar. The Circuito Cittadino dell’EUR stretches 2.87 km with a total of 21 turns with the cars racing around the Obelisco di Marconi. At the end of round 1, Jose Maria Lopez (GEOX Dragon) crashed into a wall before a chicane and with nowhere to go the other drivers behind him collided one by one and the track was stuck. A red flag suspended the entire race for 45 minutes. Cars had to be recovered and the curbs in the chicane restructured.
Once the racing had restarted, Lotterer pulled away with Evans in second and HWA’s Vandoorne chasing them down in third.
Two other former F1 drivers made huge leaps. Lucas di Grassi (Audi) drove from P15 to P8 and Jean-Eric Vergne (DS Techeetah) gained 10 positions from P17 to P7, but the race was dominated by Lotterer and Evans battling each other at the front.
With 16 minutes left to go Evans was the first to use the 25 kW of additional power by activating Attack Mode and made a break for the lead on Turn 11, squeezing past the German as he slid into second. This move was strategically well-timed: “I just had to be smart with the Attack Mode and I wanted to use it when he wasn’t and I got the power difference,” said Evans.
Lotterer’s point of view: “His racing was super, he was just faster. I couldn’t defend on that corner. There was nothing to say against this manoeuvre – this is racing.”
Hunting down Evans for the final laps even Lotterer’s two Attack Mode activations were not enough to pass the Kiwi driver. Holding him back, Evans battled at the front with his energy fast depleting, crossing the finish line with 2% energy left and 1 second ahead of Lotterer.
So the streak continues. In 7 Formula E races this season we saw 7 different winners from 7 different winning teams. Hardly any other racing series in the world can compete with that excitement.
Four points for D’Ambrosio in eighth was enough to vault him above Antonio Felix da Costa (BMW i) at the top of the driver’s standings. The top-nine drivers of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship are just a mere 13 points apart.
Formula E continues on April 27, with the E-Prix in the French capital Paris. At the end of May, electric racing will come to Berlin for a two-day event. At former Tempelhof airport, fans get to see the future of mobility inside the Greentech exhibition starting on Friday, May 24 and the E-Prix on Saturday. Tickets are available at fiaformulae.com.
Reporting by Nora Manthey.
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