Just Electric

Bird wins the Formula E battle in the land of gladiators

Sam Bird won an agonic Rome ePrix, which was caracterised by its nail-biting fights and unfortunate crashes. The Brit driver obtains his second win of the season, followed by di Grassi and Lotterer.

The race was preceded by an eventful morning, with crashes in both free practice sessions and the pit lane incident between López and da Costa, when both drivers were on their way to qualifying. It was Rosenqvist who got away with Pole Position, in stunning fashion.

Leader Rosenqvist had a clean start, defending his position on the first corners. Bird and Evans attacked, with the former shortening the gap to the Swede early in the race. 

In the midfield, Alex Lynn had contact with another car, with debris left on the track, and the Brit’s car suffering some issues, which caused him to lose some positions. The DS Virgin Racing driver had to take his car back to the garage.

The race did not start well for both Dragon Racing drivers, as both José María López and Jérôme d’Ambrosio dropped to the bottom of the standings and had contacts with other cars in the tight chicanes of the Roman circuit.

NIO’s Oliver Turvey had a positive start of the race, gaining two positions, overtaking di Grassi and Buemi. The latter, damaged the back of his car early in the race.

With five laps into the race, Felix Rosenqvist maintained his advantage; whilst teammate Nick Heidfeld remained in P10.

Audi driver Lucas di Grassi, had a rather complicated first couple of laps, as he dropped some positions, and was caught between teammate Abt and Jean Éric Vergne.

In the back of the grid, López moved up several positions from his starting grid place in P19. The Argentinian showed great skills at overtaking home star Luca Filippi, and maintained the fastest lap record, with a time of 1:40.177.

Something similar occurred to Antonio Felix da Costa, climbing up several positions after starting at the back of the grid. Ten laps into the race, the Portuguese was up in P11 already.

At the front, Rosenqvist reaffirmed his lead, by setting a fastest lap record of 1:39.972. The gap to Sam Bird was between two and three seconds, with the Swede powering up to be back in the title fight.

The Mexico City battle between Buemi and Turvey took place again in the streets of the Eternal City. The British driver showed excellent defending skills when the Season 2 champion charged up to overtake him.

British driver Sam Bird set the fastest lap record, with a time of 1:39.854, with twenty laps to go. The DS Virgin racing driver came from a podium finish in Punta del Este and aimed to repeat the performance he had in Hong Kong in the season opener.

Sébastien Buemi overtook NIO’s Oliver Turvey on the laps before heading to the pitlane for the mandatory car swap. Another overtake took place midfield, as López, overcoming the difficulties he had in the morning, was now running P13, after overtaking Nelson Piquet Jr..

There was a significant difference energy management wise among the Top 4, with Rosenqvist and Bird running with a smaller percentage, than Evans and Lotterer.

Yellow flags were displayed, as a crash involving four cars took place. The crash was similar to the one occurred in Hong Kong. One of the drivers involved, was Nick Heidfeld, whose car stopped on track. Oliver Turvey, Luca Filippi, and Edoardo Mortara crashed after this incident.

This dramatic moment, was followed by Nelson Piquet Jr.’s car stopping in the middle of the pitlane. Yellow flags were subsequently displayed, as the race went on with new drivers in the Top 3.

Luck was not on Lynn’s side this weekend, as the British driver crashed just after the mandatory car swap, having to retire. On the other hand, Buemi gained massively after swapping cars, as he exited the pitlane in P3.

In order to retire the debris from the track, race direction announced Full Course Yellow.

André Lotterer and Lucas di Grassi had a strong battle, as the German dropped one place after the mandatory car swap, and the Brazilian had a strong pace. A similar battle took place at the front, where Bird was charging up to overtake Rosenqvist.

Buemi did not have things easy, as a strong pace from Jaguar Racing’s Mitch Evans ended up in the Kiwi overtaking the Swiss. Di Grassi finally overtook Lotterer and was now aiming to overtake Buemi.

Jérôme d’Ambrosio, who did not have an easy qualifying session, was now running in P10, behind Venturi’s Maro Engel, who also started from the back of the grid.

Another unfortunate weekend for Felix Rosenqvist, as the Swedish driver hit the wall, damaging his car, and stopping on track. Sam Bird inherited the lead of the race, followed by Evans and Buemi, who was closely chased by Lucas di Grassi.

The Brazilian, who clinched his first podium finish of the season in the Punta del Este ePrix last month, was powering up his way to the podium again. He finally overtook the Swiss with a very clean pass on the left.

Evans, who was looking for another podium finish after inheriting one in Hong Kong, set the fastest lap record by lap 25, with a time of 1:39.064.

A one-second gap separated Bird from Evans, who was speeding up to fight for P1.

Mitch Evans kept on shortening the gap to leader Sam Bird, looking for his and Jaguar Racing’s first ever win in the fully-electric championship.

A nail-biting battle took place between the Top 3 drivers. Less then two seconds separated them and both Bird and Evans had to defend their position, at the same time of speeding up, displaying one of Formula E’s more instense battles ever seen.

With three laps to go and a short gap between the Top 3 drivers, it was yet unknown who would claim the win.

Sam Bird gained some advantage, shifting the fight for who would be P2. Lotterer joined the Evans-di Grassi fight.

Another clean pass by di Grassi over Evans, left the Kiwi being attacked by Lotterer. Di Grassi gained some advantage as well. Both Bird and di Grassi saw themselves being benefited, as López car stopped on track, causing yellow flags to be displayed.

Mitch Evans showed brilliant defending skills, avoiding being overtaken by André Lotterer.

As the cars cruised through the last lap of the race, Lotterer finally overtook Evans, and the Kiwi driver, was also overtaken by Daniel Abt, who did not miss the chance to be up in the Top 5 fighting.

As the chequered flag was waved for the first time in Rome, Sam Bird conquered his second race of the season. Lucas di Grassi had another second-place finish, whereas André Lotterer got to his second podium finish of the season, extending the gap in the Teams’ Championship, where TECHEETAH leads.

Daniel Abt finally finished fourth, with France’s Jean Éric Vergne seeing the chequered flag from P5, and scoring valuable points for his championship lead.

Sébastien Buemi finished in P6, followed by Jérôme d’Ambrosio’s seventh-place finish, a massive one for the Belgian, who started the race from the back of the grid. Maro Engel is back in the points for the second race in a row.

An unfortunate weekend -despite scoring points, for Mitch Evans, as he dropped back to P9 just in the last instants of the race. The looks of sadness from everyone at Jaguar Racing were heartbreaking after the intense battle the Kiwi displayed on track.

The tenth-placed driver, was Edoardo Mortara.

Mahindra Racing’s ideal weekend became a nightmare, after Heidfeld’s incident before the mandatory car swap, and Felix Rosenqvist’s unfortunate crash against the wall while leading, which cost him the race.

NIO, a team which came from two races scoring points straightaway with Oliver Turvey, did not have a good weekend, as the British driver was involved on Heidfeld’s crash, as well as teammate Filippi; both of them finished outside the point-scoring positions.

Nico Prost’s bad luck streak continues, as he could not enter the Top 10, despite being in P10 for some laps. He finished fourth. Behind him is Tom Blomqvist, who has not been able to repeat the Marrakesh’s feat and be back in the points.

Teammate da Costa, who started at the back of the grid, finished just outside the point-scoring positions, in P11. López had shown a great improvement, but saw his Top 10 finish frustrated by an incident which took him out of the race.

Alex Lynn had a weekend to forget, with three crashes throughout the day, and a retirement after swapping cars.

Ancient Rome was famous for its gladiators battles, and there is no wonder thousands of years later, the battles still continue on its land -this time, with electric cars that race towards the future.

1SamBIRD33 laps
2LucasDI GRASSI0.970
11Antonio FelixDA COSTA42.680
17José MariaLOPEZ4 Laps
NCNelsonPIQUET8 laps
NCAlexLYNN19 laps


Andrea Perilli

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