Mitch Evans holds off Jean-Eric Vergne after a late safety car to take his second consecutive victory on the streets of Rome.
It was a safety car-riddled race for the second Rome Eprix, resulting in a one-lap shoot-out at the end of the race. Vergne, who spent much of the race battling at the front of the order, had slipped back behind Evans late on, but the late safety car gave him the opportunity to try to reclaim the position.
Evans held on to take his second win of the weekend by just 0.584s.
Much of the race was a four-way battle for the race lead, but it was an alternate strategy that put Evans at the front of the field at the end of the race.
After qualifying fourth, he made quick work of Andre Lotterer and Jake Dennis before the first of three safety car intrusions, brought out after Antonio Giovinazzi hit the wall. Evans briefly passed Vergne on the restart, but wouldn’t stay at the front of the order long, with Robin Frijns at Lotterer both taking turns to lead the field.
It was Lotterer leading the field when the second safety car came out with 11 minutes on the clock after Alexander Sims came to a stop. By this point, every driver but Evans had used the mandatory Attack Mode. The track turned green with just under seven minutes left on the clock, but 5m15s were added onto the end of the race under the new safety car regulations. This meant Evans had enough time to activate and use his Attack Mode before the chequered flag.
Evans took Attack Mode immediately after the safety car returned to the pits and soon swept back past Vergne and Frijns. With the added power, Evans was able to jump back passed Lotterer and put a comfortable gap between himself and the Porsche driver while Lotterer was passed by Vergne and Frijns.
That gap was reduced to nothing when Nick Cassidy and Lucas Di Grassi made contact in with just two minutes of added time. Di Grassi continued but Cassidy was briefly stopped on track, resulting in a safety car. Cassidy was able to make it back to the pits under his own power and Vergne had a one last chance to try to take the victory.
It wasn’t to be and Evans came through to take his second victory of the season.
Vergne took second while Frijns completed the podium positions.
Lotterer had briefly dropped back behind Stoffel Vandoorne, but the Mercedes driver made his move as the final safety car came out and handed back the position when racing resumed.
Vandoorne finished fifth ahead of Pascal Wehrlein and Oliver Turvey, who takes NIO’s first points finish of the season.
Sam Bird had been on for a strong result inside the top 10 before an incident under the final safety car caused him to drop down the order and eventually retire in the pits.
Also retiring from the race was Eduardo Mortara, who hit the wall at the exit of the last corner after contact with Antonio Felix Da Costa.
Team-mate Lucas Di Grassi had been set for a points finish in 8, but earned a five second time penalty for the incident with Cassidy.
Sebastien Buemi finished ninth on track, ahead of Oliver Askew and Dan Ticktum.