ABB FIA Formula E Championship race in Rome was wet and disrupted.
Andre Lotterer had taken Pole Position in qualifying ahead of Mitch Evans, Jose Maria Lopez, Stoffel Vandoorne and Maximilian Günther.
Championship leader Antonio Felix da Costa started from P11, and had his biggest challenger, Sam Bird, right next to him in P12. Second in the championship, Jerome D’Ambrosio was down in P18! Many overtakings needed to happen for the two to remain at the top of the championship when the day was over.
The asphalt was wet from the rain earlier in the day, but the race started in dry weather.
Vandoorne got a really good start and was already up to P3 in the first corner, while Lopez had a terrible start. Not only he lost P3, he also went down to P11 when he outbraked himself in the first corner.
Maximilian Günther had a big tank-slapper, where he stood still across the track. It costed the GEOX Dragon car a front wing, but he could continue the race.
Alexander Sims hit the wall by himself, which damaged the front wing of his BMW Andretti Motorsport car.
Sam Bird got run over in the chicane by Jose , already in the first lap, which sent the Brit to last place with a damaged drive shaft after a hard contact with the wall.
The race was redflagged on the second lap due to a big collision in the midfield, where the track got completely blocked. The incident started with Lopez, who hit the curb on the inside of the chicane, which sent him to the wall on the outside. Jean-Eric Vergne couldn’t brake it in time and drove into Gary Paffett, while everyone else had to park behind them.
After all the panic, it turned out that only Paffet was out of the race.
But it was a terrifying first lap for Lopez, who sailed around on the track.
It took nearly an hour before the race got restarted, since the barriers needed to be repaired.
Half of the field chose to use their obligatory Attack Mode already at the restart. But no position change happened.
Alexander Sims got a ten-second Stop & Go penalty, because his team had replaced the engine, gearbox and inverter before the race, due to technical problems with the car in the qualifying. It changed nothing for him, since he was already last.
The track gradually dried up, with only some damp patches outside the racing line.
Daniel Abt did a mistake and came too wide in a corner, so he had to put the car in reverse gear and rejoined in the last place.
Jose Maria Lopez got a drive-through penalty for the contact with Bird on the first lap, which sent him to last position.
Stoffel Vandoorne, Antonio Felix da Costa, Daniel Abt, Sebastien Buemi and Lucas Di Grassi were the five drivers receiving the Fan Boost.
Antonio Felix da Costa got a five-second time penalty, because the team didn’t charge the car fully before the race. And such things got penalised…
The race was unfortunately over for Edoardo Mortara, who had to quietly park the car behind the barrier in Turn 10, due to some mechanical failure.
His Venturi teammate, Felipe Massa, was sadly also retired from the race with a technical problem a few laps later.
It caused a Full Course Yellow, since the marshals had to remove the car.
There was a little drama between Maximilian Günther, Antonio Felix da Costa and Vergne, when Günther and da Costa braked so much that Vergne overtook Costa. It gave a row of penalties. Not enough with a drive-through for Vergne for overtaking under yellow, Günther actually had driven too fast under FCY. But it was only a five-second time penalty for Günther.
Mitch Evans was the first of the two leading cars to use Attack Mode, which closed the gap to Andre Lotterer. Evans dived really late, on the way into the chicane and squeezed himself past Lotterer, who almost ended up in the wall, but he could come back to second place in front of Stoffel Vandoorne. The stewards chose to give both Evans and Lotterer a warning, but penalties had been given for less offence in previous races.
Lotterer caught up with Evans by using his first Attack Mode, and chose to take the second Attack Mode straight away after the first four-minute period was used up.
Lucas Di Grassi drove past Antonio Felix da Costa in a nice overtaking, which also costed da Costa a place to Jerome D’Ambrosio. Di Grassi also went past Günther one lap later.
When Evans tried to go for Attack Mode, he didn’t use the correct line, so it wasn’t activated. Thus Lotterer was only centimetres away from the Panasonic Jaguar Racing car. The next attempt, however, worked, with two minutes left on the clock.
Evans was about to run out of electricity, so he couldn’t take advantage of the extra power, and instead had to drive in defensive mode in order to have enough power to finish the race. It made the two leading cars drive up to two seconds slower per lap than what the car could.
Maximilian Günther got a penalty for not using Attack Mode. It gave him a Drive-through penalty which got converted into 37 additional seconds after the race. He ran out of power before crossing the finish line, so he never saw the chequered flag.
Mitch Evans drove the car to victory for the first time for him, as well as for Panasonic Jaguar Racing in ABB FIA Formula E Championship. Andre Lotterer finished second for DS Techeetah, while Stoffel Vandoorne was P3 for HWA RACELAB.
Jerome D’Ambrosio still leads the championship, ahead of Antonio Felix da Costa, Andre Lotterer, Mitch Evans, Lucas Di Grassi, Robin Frijns, Jean-Eric Vergne, Sam Bird and Edoardo Mortara – all within 13 points from the leader.
DS Techeetah leads the teams’ championship, in front of Envision Virgin Racing, Mahindra Racing and Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler, who are within 14 points of each other.
The next round of ABB FIA Formula E Championship will be run on 27 April in Paris. Will there be an eighth winner in the eighth round of the 2018/19 season?