Mitch Evans has claimed a breakthrough maiden FIA Formula E Championship win for himself and the Jaguar team at the Rome ePrix after forcefully passing pole-sitter André Lotterer for victory.
The New Zealander’s popular victory continued the 2018-19 championship’s theme of crowning a different driver and team as a race-winner. In a quite remarkable pattern in the first season of the new Gen2 regulations, no driver or team has won more than once.
Lotterer would have rightly felt confident of adding his name to the list of first-time Formula E Championship race-winners after qualifying his DS Techeetah on pole for the first time around the narrow and undulating Circuito Cittadino dell’EUR. The German held his nerve in a wet/dry qualifying session, edging out Evans by three-tenths of a second in the one-lap ‘Super Pole’ session after topping the preliminary group stages.
The start of the race saw Lotterer convert pole position into the lead of the race over Evans, but proceedings were brought to a halt barely a minute later when José María López – who had qualified a fine third-fastest – shoved Envision Racing’s Sam Bird into the wall and then carried far too much speed through the Turn 17/18 chicane, sliding his Dragon Racing entry into the wall.
HWA’s Gary Paffett had to slam on the brakes behind him and was hit in the rear by the second DS Techeetah of Jean-Éric Vergne, while the remaining cars behind them found the track completely blocked.
Officials had no choice but to throw the red flags and stop the race. After a 45-minute delay, the field regrouped – minus Paffet, whose car was too damaged to make the restart – and the race resumed under a rolling restart with Lotterer holding the lead ahead of Evans and Stoffel Vandoorne in the sole remaining HWA.
Evans shadowed Lotterer over successive laps until he activated his first four-minute ‘Attack Mode’ with 16 minutes of the race to run. Lotterer, whose ability to make a Formula E car as wide as possible is almost legendary, doggedly held the inside line to block Evans’ attacks. Eventually Evans managed to grab the inside line at the exit of Turn 10 and force his way past at the Turn 11/12 chicane.
It was a robust move that earned the Kiwi a bad sportsmanship warning from the Race Stewards, but no further action was taken by the officials.
Evans almost threw away his lead by failing to run through the ‘Attack Mode’ zone, while Lotterer attempted to counter-attack with successive uses of ‘Attack Mode’. Evans went through the activation zone at the next attempt, with the extra battery output proving enough to keep him ahead of Lotterer.
The pair ran nose-to-tail over the remaining laps, crossing the finish line less than a second apart as Evans celebrated his and the Jaguar team’s first victory in the Formula E Championship. With the team having parted ways with the series’ inaugural champion Nelson Piquet Jr. in the lead-up to the event – it is widely rumoured that the Brazilian had not taken kindly to being repeatedly shown up by Evans – the timing of Evans’ victory was certainly telling to say the least.
Vandoorne completed the podium, his and the HWA team’s first in its debut Formula E season, to give the team a boost in confidence following a run of reliability issues ahead of Mercedes’ full-time arrival in the series in 2019-20.
Envision Racing’s Robin Frijns overtook Nissan e.dams driver Buemi late in the race to claim fourth place, while the second Nissan of Oliver Rowland finished sixth.
Defending series champion Vergne crossed the finish line in seventh but a post-race time penalty for overtaking under Full Course Yellow flag conditions dropped the DS Techeetah driver out of the points.
Audi’s Lucas di Grassi picked up the spot, with Mahindra Racing’s Jérôme d’Ambrosio and BMW i Andretti’s António Félix da Costa finishing eighth and ninth. Da Costa had come into the event lead d’Ambrosio by one point in the Drivers’ Championship standings, but the latter’s four-point haul to the former’s two points saw them switch positions on the points’ ladder with the Belgian now leading by one point.
D’Ambrosio’s teammate Pascal Wehrlein completed the top ten, claiming the final championship point on offer.
|2018 ABB Formula E GEOX Rome ePrix – Final Classification|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result||Pts|
|1.||Mitch Evans||Panasonic Jaguar Racing||29||1:33:51.140||25|
|2.||André Lotterer||DS Techeetah||29||+ 0.979||21|
|3.||Stoffel Vandoorne||HWA Racelab||29||+ 6.399||15|
|4.||Robin Frijns||Envision Virgin Racing||29||+ 9.181||12|
|5.||Sébastien Buemi||Nissan e.dams||29||+ 9.778||11|
|6.||Oliver Rowland||Nissan e.dams||29||+ 11.262||8|
|7.||Lucas di Grassi||Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler||29||+ 24.340||6|
|8.||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Mahindra Racing||29||+ 28.633||4|
|9.||António Félix da Costa||BMW i Andretti Motorsport||29||+ 30.651||2|
|10.||Pascal Wehrlein||Mahindra Racing||29||+ 30.735||1|
|11.||Sam Bird||Envision Virgin Racing||29||+ 32.272|
|12.||Alex Lynn||Panasonic Jaguar Racing||29||+ 42.238|
|13.||Oliver Turvey||NIO Formula E Team||29||+ 48.616|
|14.||Jean-Éric Vergne||DS Techeetah||29||+ 49.732|
|15.||Tom Dillmann||NIO Formula E Team||29||+ 52.253|
|16.||José María López||Geox Dragon Racing||29||+ 1:10.373|
|17.||Alexander Sims||BMW i Andretti Motorsport||29||+ 1:11.373|
|18.||Daniel Abt||Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler||29||Battery|
|19.||Maximilian Günther||Geox Dragon Racing||29||Battery|
|Not Classified||Team / Entry||Laps||Reason|
|DNF.||Felipe Massa||Venturi Formula E Team||11||Driveshaft|
|DNF.||Edoardo Mortara||Venturi Formula E Team||8||Driveshaft|
|DNF.||Gary Paffett||HWA Racelab||0||Collision|
Post Race Penalties:
- Jean-Éric Vergne – who provisionally finished in 7th place – was issued a 30-second post-race time penalty for overtaking under Full Course Yellow conditions.
- Championship points are awarded on the results of the ePrix to the top-ten finishers on a 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 sliding scale.
- André Lotterer earned 3 bonus championship points for securing the Julius Baer pole position.
- Jean-Éric Vergne posted the fastest lap of the ePrix, however, as he was not a top-10 classified finisher he is ineligible for the bonus championship point. The fastest lap posted by a top-10 finisher was by Sébastien Buemi, who earns the bonus championship point.
Images via ABB FIA Formula E Championship