Sam Bird is the inaugural winner of the Rome ePrix, benefiting from a crash for Felix Rosenqvist to claim victory.

Starting from second on the grid, Bird followed pole-sitter Rosenqvist away from the start, but the early action was further down in the pack. Bird’s DS Virgin teammate Alex Lynn made significant contact with the rear of championship leader Jean-Éric Vergne’s car, causing damage for both drivers.

Throughout the opening stint of the race, Rosenqvist managed the gap to Bird behind, holding the lead at 1.2 seconds after six laps of racing. The pair pitted together on Lap 16, exiting in the same order, before a full-course caution neutralised the race a lap later.

2018 Formula E Rome ePrix - start

Rosenqvist successfully converted his pole position into an early lead, but would later retire with broken suspension.

A four-car incident at Turn 13 involving Nick Heidfeld’s Mahindra, Edoardo Mortara’s Venturi and the two NEOs of Oliver Turvey and Luca Filippi was the cause of the yellow flag period, while Lynn’s car stopped had stopped at Turn 10 and was recovered at the same time.

With racing back underway after the caution Bird began to apply pressure to the rear of Rosenqvist, but the complexion of the race changed on Lap 23. Hitting the kerbs through the Turn 18/19 chicane, the left-rear suspension failed on Rosenqvist’s Mahindra, forcing the Swede to park and retire at the exit of Turn 21.

With Bird now leading, Jaguar’s Mitch Evans began to challenge the new leader, while Lucas di Grassi moved to third and André Lotterer into fourth. Evans attempted a pass on Bird at Turn 10 but was unable to complete the move, before falling back behind di Grassi and then also behind Lotterer. Having over used his energy trying to claim the race lead, Evans eventually ran out and was forced to limp to the finish, ultimately in ninth place.

Di Grassi made a late attempt at challenging Bird, but could not find a place to make a move which allowed the Briton to take victory by 0.970 seconds. Lotterer claimed third place ahead of Daniel Abt. Vergne recovered from his opening lap damage to salvage fifth position and retain the championship lead by a reduced 18-point margin to Bird.

Sébastien Buemi ended the race in sixth position after struggling with energy management issues with his second Renault e.dams car, while the top ten was rounded out by Jérôme d’Ambrosio, Maro Engel, Evans and Mortara.

Nelson Piquet Jr failed to finish in the second Jaguar. The Brazilian left his pit garage after his car swap only to be forced to stop in the pit lane without his seat belts fastened.

Speaking post-race, Bird made it clear that he felt the race was absolutely Rosenqvist’s to lose before the Mahindra driver’s suspension failure.

“I honestly didn’t think I would be sitting here today,” he said. “[After Felix was out of the race] it was just a case of getting my head down but I made a mistake going down the fill into Turn 5, which allowed Lucas and Mitch to close right in. I had to defend and luckily came out unscathed. I knew Lucas would be hunting on the last lap, so I tried to give myself the best scenario and it worked out well.”

For di Grassi, most of the action played out during his second stint, including using his FanBoost to full effect.

“I had a very conservative first stint. I tried to save energy, did a good pit stop and then used the FanBoost to overtake Buemi, who was struggling anyway,” he recalled of his battle with his long-time rival.

“At the end, it was pretty intense as Mitch was chasing Sam and I wanted to be close in case something happened. It was a very eventful end of the race but I had a lot of fun.”

In the Drivers’ Championship standings, Rosenqvist remains third behind Vergne and Bird, however the Swede is now 37 points off the championship lead. Buemi sits in fourth place on 60 points ahead of Abt (50), and a tight battle between the Jaguars of Piquet (45) and Evans (43). Having reversed his horror start to the season, defending champion di Grassi is now in eighth position on 39 points.

Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler - 2018 Rome ePrix

After his horror start to the 2017-18 season as reigning Formula E champion, Lucas di Grassi has recovered to eighth overall.

Techeetah comfortably leads the Teams’ Championship standings on 152 points, ahead of DS Virgin (118) and Mahindra (103). Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler (89) now sit fourth by a single point over Jaguar, with three-time reigning champions Renault e.Dams in sixth place with 67 points.

The eighth round of the 2017/18 Formula E championship will be held on Saturday April 28, as the Paris ePrix is run for the third time.

2018 ABB Formula E CBMM Niobium Rome E-Prix Presented By Mercedes EQ – Final Classification (33 laps)
Pos Driver Team / Entry Laps Result Pts
1. Sam Bird DS Virgin Racing Citroën 33 58:20.656 25
2. Lucas di Grassi Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler 33 + 0.970 18
3. André Lotterer Techeetah Renault 33 + 9.518 15
4. Daniel Abt Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler 33 + 10.167 13
5. Jean-Éric Vergne Techeetah Renault 33 + 17.444 10
6. Sébastien Buemi Renault e.Dams 33 + 19.835 8
7. Jérôme d’Ambrosio Dragon Racing Penske 33 + 24.379 6
8. Maro Engel Venturi Formula E Team 33 + 26.350 4
9. Mitch Evans Panasonic Jaguar Racing 33 + 37.709 2
10. Edoardo Mortara Venturi Formula E Team 33 + 40.739 1
11. António Félix da Costa MS&AD Andretti Formula E 33 + 42.680
12. Oliver Turvey NIO Formula E Team 33 + 48.833
13. Luca Filippi NIO Formula E Team 33 + 49.331
14. Nicolas Prost Renault e.Dams 33 + 1:13.880
15. Tom Blomqvist MS&AD Andretti Formula E 33 + 1:31.382
16. Nick Heidfeld Mahindra Racing 33 + 1:44.774
17. José María López Dragon Racing Penske 29 4 laps behind 8
Not Classified Team / Entry Laps Result
DNF. Felix Rosenqvist Mahindra Racing 22 Suspension 3
DNF. Nelson Piquet Jr Panasonic Jaguar Racing 18 Seat belts
DNF. Alex Lynn DS Virgin Racing Citroën 15 Accident

Bonus Championship Points:

  • Three bonus points awarded to Felix Rosenqvist for claiming pole position
  • One bonus point awarded to Daniel Abt for posting the fastest race lap by a top-ten finisher.

Post-Race Penalties:

  • None

Images via ABB FIA Formula E Championship

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Mitch Timms

Journalist at MotorsportM8
Professional motorsport engineer and all-round tech head.