Slow start with dramatic finish in Rome

Round 7 of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship was run today in Rome, Italy, which was a brand new venue for the electrical series.

It was however well known names at the top of the qualifying.

Felix Rosenqvist had grabbed Pole Position ahead of Sam Bird and Mitch Evans.

Andre Lotterer was the best Techeetah, 4 spots further up than his championship leading teammate, Jean-Eric Vergne.

There even was a crash between two cars during the qualifying. Antonio Felix da Costa was sent out right into the side of Jose Maria Lopez in the pitlane, making it impossible for neither car to participate in the qualifying. The Andretti Formula E team got a 10.000 Euro fine and then Felix da Costa received a 10-grid penalty, which was then converted into a 10-second penalty for the race.

The track in Rome was so narrow, and that gave some issues on the first lap.

Photo: Malcom Griffiths /FIA Formula E

Top four got away without any issues, but further down the field we saw Alex Lynn getting into troubles, when he lost some parts of the car after being hit. The race stewards demanded him to go to the pits to get those damages fixed.

There was a contact between Edoardo Mortara and Jose Maria Lopez on Lap 3. Mortara tried to block Lopez, but the Argentinian wouldn’t have any of that, and just kept his foot on the throttle, while they scraped along the concrete wall. Both were, however, able to continue.

Lucas di Grassi, Luca Filippi and Sebastien Buemi were the three drivers receiving Fan-boost for the race today.

Jose Maria Lopez was able to outbrake Luca Filippi going into the hairpin. A few laps later, Lopez did a similar thing to Nico Prost, on the exactly same spot, inviting Filippi to do the same.

But halfway through the race, things were really spiced up.

Sebastien Buemi went into the back of Andre Lotterer, in an overtaking attempt. Both could go on, with just a few small pieces of debris flying away.

But further back in the field, there was a big meet-up.

Jose Maria Lopez tried to do another one of his outbraking manoeuvres, but this time it ended all wrong, so Oliver Turvey, Nick Heidfeld, Luca Filippi and Edoardo Mortara all ended up in one big pile. They were however able to unbuckle the cars again, and continue the race.

Nelson Piquet Jr stopped in the middle of the pitlane, right after changing his car. Luckily he was stopped to the side, so the others could pass him,while he could just sit there and look at them hum past him.

Alex Lynn spun off the track, which demanded a Full Course Yellow to get his car removed. That only happened after everybody had done their mandatory stops, so nobody won or lost on that part.

Edoardo Mortara & Jose Maria Lopez
Photo: Sam Bloxham /FIA Formula E

Felix Rosenqvist was having everything under control at the head of the race, with Sam Bird and Mitch Evans in the following positions. Lotterer had dropped all the way to 6th, after a slow pitstop, which has become tradition from him, due to the tall German taking more time to get in and out of the car.

There was a drama with 10 laps to go, when Felix Rosenqvist suddenly slowed down and ended up retiring. It’s not the first time this year, that the unlucky Swede has got problems while leading. The Mahindra team has time and time again proven their speed, but it’s necessary for them to get some consistency into the car, if they want to be Championship candidates now and in the future.

That suddenly sent Sebastian Buemi onto the podium, but with Lucas di Grassi right under his rear wing. It didn’t take long for di Grassi to find a hole in the Swiss armour, making it possible to dive inside. Buemi then got under a lot of pressure from Andre Lotterer, who had a much quicker car.

With just a few laps left of the race, Lotterer made it past, and Daniel Abt tried to do the same. He was caught on the outside of Buemi, and instead got under pressure from Vergne.

Vergne managed to get part Abt with 4 laps to go, but when the Championship leading driver tried to outbrake Sebastien Buemi, he ended up outbraking himself, while Abt and Buemi could only laugh.

The fight for first was really heating up with three laps to go. Mitch Evans was all the way up the side of Sam Bird, but Bird closed the door hard, and kept the lead. But that only meant that top 4 was close together. Bird got a bit of air, since New Zealander Evans had to defend his own position.

Lucas di Grassi came under a lot of pressure from Andre Lotterer in the fight for the final podium spot. The German really filled up his former Audi colleagues mirrors. But what do you do then? Well, di Grassi just overtook Evans instead, and got rid of Lotterer that way.

The fight between Evans and Lotterer was right onto the limiter, when Evens tried to push Lotterer into the wall, even though Lotterer actually had his nose again. Daniel Abt used that fight to git right up to the pair.

Lotterer finally made it past on the very final lap, and right thereafter, Evens ran out of power. So Daniel Abt made it past him too.

A very chaotic finish to the race, which saw Sam Bird as the winner, ahead of Lucas di Grassi and Andre Lotterer.

Daniel Abt grabbed the fastest lap of the race, and got himself a bonus point.

Sam Bird
Photo: Malcom Griffiths /FIA Formula E

The one who can feel the happiest of all in today’s race is Jean-Eric Vergne. He can praise the racing gods that Rosenqvist retired from the lead, and that Evans ran out of power, and subsequently finishing behind Vergne. That gave him two spots for free, on a day that looked to be without that many points to the Championship.

Jean-Eric Vergne is still leading the Drivers Championship, even though Sam Bird in second has eaten 15 points off his lead this weekend. Felix Rosenqvist is still third, but now has big gap up to second, while fourth position is only 22 points behind, in the shape of Sebastien Buemi.

In the teams standings it’s status quo between Techeetah in first and DS Virgin Racing in second. Mahindra Racing really lost out this weekend, with only the three points from scoring Pole by Rosenqvist, adding to the teams total. They can start to feel the breath from Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler and Panasonic Jaguar Racing in fourth and fifth.

The next round of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship will be run in 14 days in Paris.

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