Formula E: Bird flies to Victory in Rome

0
241
Source: Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images

Sam Bird (DS Virgin) took advantage of a rare mistake by Felix Rosenqvist (Mahindra) to win the first ever Rome ePrix, propelling himself right into title contention in the process.

In qualifying, Rosenqvist was on the ragged edge and took pole position with a 1:36.311, six tenths fastest than title rival Bird in second.

Mitch Evans (Jaguar) impressed once again to start in third, with André Lotterer (Techeetah) in fourth and Sébastien Buemi (Renault e.Dams) ended up fifth after making a mistake at the hairpin.

The session did also have some dramatic moments, as home favourite Luca Filippi (NIO) and Jérôme D’Ambrosio (Dragon) both failed to set a competitive lap after miscalculating their outlap.

In the third group, Edoardo Mortara (Venturi) hit the wall and damaged his rear right wheel, resulting in the Swiss driver having to drift his car for the remainder of the lap.

Lastly, at the beginning of the final group, Antonio Felix da Costa (Andretti) crashed into José María López (Dragon) in the pit lane, meaning both drivers were unable to set a time.

At the race start, Rosenqvist defended his lead from Bird and Evans into Turn 1, whilst Oliver Turvey (NIO) managed to move into fifth position.

Behind them, Alex Lynn (DS Virgin) crashed into the back of championship leader Jean-Eric Vergne (Techeetah), causing the Briton to damage his front wing.

Although Lynn initially stayed out, a black flag with an orange disc was waved for being a danger to other drivers and he was forced into making the inevitable pit stop.

Da Costa and Lopez were driving their socks off as they fought through the field and put themselves in contention for a points finish.

Back at the front, Rosenqvist began to pull away from Bird and set the fastest lap of the race.

However, as the mandatory pit stop neared, Bird began to respond and slowly began to close the gap.

In the battle for third, Evans had Lotterer on his tail, whilst Turvey started to drop down the field.

As the leaders made their pit stops, there was a pile up at the hairpin involving the midfield pack.

As Turvey was defending from Nick Heidfeld (Mahindra), Lopez lunged down the inside and forced them wide.

Behind them, Filippi had nowhere to go, and smashed into his team-mate.

Luckily for them, they recovered to the pits and continued as the full course yellow was deployed.

At the restart, Rosenqvist led from Bird, with Buemi five seconds behind in third, having leapfrogged Evans and Lotterer during the pit stop phase.

Behind the German, the Audi of Lucas Di Grassi was looking feisty and made the pass for fifth place.

Shortly after, Evans reclaimed third place from Buemi, whilst Bird ran wide and allowed Rosenqvist to establish a bit of breathing space between them.

Then, a dramatic turn of events took place as the Swedish driver damaged his suspension whilst going through the bus stop chicane.

Subsequently, he retired and conceded the lead to Bird.

In what then became a battle over third place, Di Grassi used his fanboost to squeeze his way past Buemi into Turn 9.

The full course yellow was then deployed once again to recover Rosenqvist’s car.

When the race restarted once more, Buemi continued to struggle and lost fourth place to Lotterer.

Meanwhile, Evans and Di Grassi had closed the gap to Bird, setting up a tense end to the race.

Evans attempted a manoeuvre into the right hander preceding the hairpin, but backed out to avoid a collision and left himself vulnerable to Di Grassi.

This crucial mistake from the Kiwi allowed Bird to pull away and claim his second win of the season.

Di Grassi got the better of Evans to finish second but was under investigation for an unsafe pit release at the time of press.

Lotterer pipped Daniel Abt (Audi Sport) to the final spot on the podium in third, as Evans ran out of power on the final lap and dropped to ninth.

The result sees Bird close the gap to Vergne – who finished fifth –  down to 18 points, with Rosenqvist’s DNF seeing him dropped to third a further 19 points adrift.

2018 ABB FIA Formula E Rome ePrix Official Classification:

Pos. Car No. Driver (Nationality), Team Time
1 2 Sam Bird (GBR), DS Virgin Racing 33 Laps
2 1 Lucas Di Grassi (BRA), Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler +0.970
3 18 André Lotterer (DEU), Techeetah +9.518
4 66 Daniel Abt (DEU), Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler +10.167
5 25 Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA), Techeetah +17.444
6 9 Sébastien Buemi (CHE), Renault e.Dams +19.835
7 7 Jérôme D’Ambrosio (BEL), Dragon +24.379
8 5 Maro Engel (DEU), Venturi Formula E Team +26.350
9 20 Mitch Evans (NZL), Panasonic Jaguar Racing +37.709
10 4 Edoardo Mortara (CHE), Venturi Formula E Team +40.739
11 28 Antonio Felix Da Costa (POR), MS&AD Andretti Formula E Team +42.680
12 16 Oliver Turvey (GBR), NIO Formula E Team +48.833
13 68 Luca Filippi (ITA), NIO Formula E Team +49.331
14 8 Nicolas Prost (FRA), Renault e.Dams +58.556
15 27 Tom Blomqvist (GBR), MS&AD Andretti Formula E Team +1:31.527
16 23 Nick Heidfeld (DEU), Mahindra Racing +1:41.441
Not Classified
6 José María López (ARG), Dragon Crashed
19 Felix Rosenqvist (SWE), Mahindra Suspension Damage
3 Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA), Panasonic Jaguar Racing Stopped in Pit Lane
36 Alex Lynn (GBR), DS Virgin Racing Spun

 

2017/18 ABB FIA Formula E Drivers’ Championship Standings after Round Seven:

Pos. Car No. Driver (Nationality), Team Points
1 25 Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA), Techeetah 119
2 2 Sam Bird (GBR), DS Virgin Racing 101
3 19 Felix Rosenqvist (SWE), Mahindra 82
4 9 Sébastien Buemi (CHE), Renault e.Dams 60
5 66 Daniel Abt (DEU), Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler 50
6 3 Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA), Panasonic Jaguar Racing 45
7 20 Mitch Evans (NZL), Panasonic Jaguar Racing 43
8 1 Lucas Di Grassi (BRA), Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler 39
9 18 André Lotterer (DEU), Techeetah 33
10 16 Oliver Turvey (GBR), NIO Formula E Team 32
11 4 Edoardo Mortara (CHE), Venturi Formula E Team 29
12 23 Nick Heidfeld (DEU), Mahindra Racing 21
13 36 Alex Lynn (GBR), DS Virgin Racing 17
14 28 Antonio Felix da Costa (POR), MS&AD Andretti Formula E Team 16
15 6 José María López (ARG), Dragon 13
16 7 Jérôme D’Ambrosio (BEL), Dragon 12
17 5 Maro Engel (DEU), Venturi Formula E Team 11
18 8 Nicolas Prost (FRA), Renault e.Dams 7
19 27 Tom Blomqvist (GBR), MS&AD Andretti Formula E Team 4
20 68 Luca Filippi (ITA), NIO Formula E Team 1

LEAVE A REPLY