ABB Formula E – Rome ePrix – Race
Ciao MinE Fans!
Circuito Cittadino dell’EUR hosts the 7th round of the 2018-19 ABB FIA Formula E championship. This is a returning circuit from last season, and it’s widely regarded to be one of the best on the calendar. Series commentator and 4x IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti certainly thinks so anyway, according to his pre-race build-up.
Andre Lotterer took pole position for this race to make it seven different pole sitters in the first seven races of the season. The question was, could he take the win to make it seven winners in seven races also?
Lotterer started the race ahead of Mitch Evans (2nd), Jose Maria Lopez (3rd), Stoffel Vandoorne (4th) and Maximilian Gunther (5th). Championship leader Antonio Felix da Costa began down in 11th with the man who is one point behind, Jerome d’Ambrosio, starting in 19th place.
Oh, and if Formula E races weren’t already crazy enough – the track was wet.
Former F1 driver (sort of ..) Jose Maria Lopez had the most interesting start to the race. He ran wide on the opening lap into turn one, and lost a heap of positions. The Argentinian then had a collision with Sam Bird, followed by locking up and hitting the wall – with Gary Paffett and Jean-Eric Vergne ploughing into the back of him, causing a traffic jam and a red flag.
Meanwhile, Gunther was busy tagging the wall, having a half spin, and depositing bits of front wing all over the track. As for Sam Bird, he would come to a stop following that collision with Lopez.
All that happened in the first 170 seconds of the race, the moment the red flag came out; utter bedlam. Massive bragging rights go to Envision Virgin Racing who were able to work incredibly rapidly to do a partial replacement of Sam Bird’s driveline under red flag to get the British driver back into the race. Unfortunately, their efforts were not rewarded as he finished just outside the points in 11th.
Under red flag, the order was Lotterer 1st, Evans 2nd, Vandoorne 3rd, Sebastian Buemi 4th and Robin Frijns 5th. Once they got under way again, the rest of the race was relatively calm by Formula E standards. Lotterer and Evans – and to a certain extent Vandoorne – were able to pull away at the front and the unique “attack mode” feature in ABB Formula E made for an excellent strategic battle.
Ultimately, it was Mitch Evans who took victory in Italy – Jaguar’s first in Formula E, and their first ever win in open-wheel racing too I believe. Second was Andre Lotterer and completing the podium was Stoffel Vandoorne – HWA Mercedes’ first podium in Formula E.
Coming home 4th was Robin Frijns who beat out the two Nissan’s – with Buemi ahead of Rowland. Lucas di Grassi was 7th for Audi ahead of Jerome d’Ambrosio’s Mahindra. Antonio Felix da Costa finished 9th with Pascal Wehrlein scoring the final point for 10th.
Despite the chaos at the start, there were only three retirements during the race. Gary Paffett had irreparable damage suffered during the pile-up whereas both Venturi’s stopped on circuit following a loss of power.
The championship standings are utterly ludicrous, hilarious and stunning in equal measure. d’Ambrosio leads the championship by 1 point from da Costa, who’s 2 points ahead of Lotterer, who’s 1 point ahead of Evans. There are 13 points between the top nine drivers. Meanwhile, 14 points separate the top four in the teams’ championship with Techeetah on top.
A really, really good race today that made for excellent viewing. And yes, seven races in, the championship has had seven different pole sitters, and also seven different winners from seven different teams. It’s getting unbelievable at this point really. Will the next race winner come from Dragon, HWA Mercedes, NIO or Nissan? Only time will tell, we’ll find out at the next race in Paris!