Formula E – Sam Bird Takes Win in Inaugural Rome E-Prix

The ABB FIA Formula E Championship held the first event on the streets of Rome on April 14, 2018. The impressive crowd witnessed DS Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird being crowned the winner of the inaugural 2018 Rome E-Prix. Lucas di Grassi and Andre Lotterer joined Bird on the podium. A chaotic race saw Mahindra Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist leading for the majority of the race, until a rear suspension problem forced him to retire on lap 23.

Rome E-Prix 2018 Review

Rosenqvist was on pole ahead of Bird and Mitch Evans. This was the Starting Grid for the race after qualification:

Pos Driver Team Car Time Gap
1 Felix Rosenqvist Mahindra Mahindra 1m36.311s
2 Sam Bird Virgin DS Virgin 1m36.987s 0.676s
3 Mitch Evans Jaguar Jaguar 1m37.199s 0.888s
4 Andre Lotterer Techeetah Renault 1m37.235s 0.924s
5 Sebastien Buemi e.dams Renault 1m37.817s 1.506s
6 Lucas di Grassi Audi Audi 1m36.973s
7 Oliver Turvey NIO NextEV NIO 1m37.045s
8 Jean-Eric Vergne Techeetah Renault 1m37.055s
9 Daniel Abt Audi Audi 1m37.117s
10 Nick Heidfeld Mahindra Mahindra 1m37.365s
11 Alex Lynn Virgin DS Virgin 1m37.546s
12 Tom Blomqvist Andretti Andretti 1m37.561s
13 Nelson Piquet Jr. Jaguar Jaguar 1m38.066s
14 Maro Engel Venturi Venturi 1m38.212s
15 Nicolas Prost e.dams Renault 1m38.410s
16 Edoardo Mortara Venturi Venturi 1m47.802s
17 Luca Filippi NIO NextEV NIO 2m09.829s
18 Jerome d’Ambrosio Dragon Penske 1m42.003s
19 Jose Maria Lopez Dragon Penske
20 Antonio Felix da Costa Andretti Andretti


Sam Bird Wins After Rosenqvist Retires

The race started in warm and sunny conditions at the Circuito Cittadino dell’EUR. The cars went around the circuit for 33 laps, traveling a total distance of 93.72 km (58.23 miles). Although short, the race was full of tight driver battles and action from beginning to end.

The Start

Rosenqvist didn’t have the best start off the line at lights out. However, he was still able to maintain P1 over Bird into turn 1. Bird also had a strong start from P2 on the grid, but just couldn’t pull off an overtake. Meanwhile, DS Virgin Racing’s Alex Lynn crashed into Techeetah and Formula E Driver’s Championship leader Jean Eric-Vergne on lap 3. Vergne suffered minor damage while Lynn broke his front wing and had to pit to change it.

Pit Stops

On lap 16, the pit window opened as Antonio Felix da Costa pitted early for MS&AD Andretti Formula E due to poor energy conservation. The leaders quickly followed and Rosenqvist extended his lead over Bird after their car swap.

Full Course Caution

A multi-car pileup involving several drivers on the in-lap caused a full course yellow over the circuit. Jose Maria Lopez of Dragon Formula E charged to the inside of Oliver Turvey of NIO Formula E on turn 16 that caused Turvey to hit into the left rear of Nick Heidfeld of Mahindra Racing.

While they were stuck together, Turvey’s teammate and hometown hero Luca Filippi and Venturi Formula E rookie Edoardo Mortara collected them after he attempted to avoid an incident. This brought out a full course caution on track while Lopez skated by without even collecting any damage.

Tragedy for Felix Rosenqvist

On lap 19, the green flag was waved and they began racing once again. Rosenqvist attacking every corner aggressively and going up and down with the natural flow of the circuit brilliantly. Then on lap 24, Rosenqvist went over a kerb and broke his rear suspension, handing Bird first position. Di Grassi held P2, while Mitch Evans of Panasonic Jaguar Racing was in P3.

Battle Until the End

Bird may have inherited first position, but he didn’t take the win without sweating a little. Di Grassi and Evans were determined to close the gap and Di Grassi was able to get within a second of Bird.

Evans couldn’t maintain his pace though, and almost used up all his energy in his charge for Bird. This ultimately caused him to plummet down to P9 and his poor energy conservation cost him a podium. Andre Lotterer, of Techeetah inherited P3 from Evans and rounded out the podium for his second podium of his rookie year.

Drivers In The Points

Daniel Abt of Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler finished in P4, beating Formula E championship leader Vergne who finished P5. The Frenchman got a poor start from P8 and his mishap with Lynn didn’t help his pace in his first stint. Sebastien Buemi of Renault e.dams finished P6, he qualified well but just didn’t have the pace for the race.

Jerome D’Ambrosio brought his Dragon Racing car into P7. He benefitted from a great strategy that helped him finish inside the top ten from P16. Maro Engel and Edoardo Mortara of Venturi Formula E finished in P8 and P10 respectively. They gave Venturi Racing a great double points finish after a disappointing qualifying. Evans separated the two Venturi Formula E drivers in P9, after he almost ran out of energy.

Vergne Maintains Lead

With the Rosenqvist retirement, Bird overtakes the Swede in the Formula E Drivers’ Standings. After a P5 finish in Rome, Vergne maintains his lead in the championship with five races to go. The lead is only18 points and Bird has entered his name into contention in the title race.

Rome E-Prix Result

1 Sam Bird DS Virgin Racing 1:39:965 25
2 Lucas Di Grassi Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler +.970
3 Andre Lotterer Techeetah +9.518
4  Daniel Abt Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler +10.167
5 Jean-Eric Vergne Techeetah +17.444
6  Sebastien Buemi Renault E.DAMS +19.835
7  Jerome D’Ambrosio Dragon Racing +24.379
8  Maro Engel Venturi Formula E Team +26.350
9 Mitch Evans Panasonic Jaguar Racing +37.709
10  Edoardo Mortara Venturi Formula E Team +40.739
11 Antonio Felix da Costa MS&AD Andretti Formula E +42.680
12 Oliver Turvey NIO Formula E Team +48.833
13 Luca Filippi NIO Formula E Team +49.331
14 Nico Prost Renault E.DAMS +1:13:880
15 Tom Blomqvist MS&AD Andretti Formula E +1:31:832
16 Nick Heidfeld Mahindra Racing +1:44:774
17 Jose Maria Lopez Dragon Racing +4 laps
18 Felix Rosenqvist Mahindra Racing DNF
19 Nelson Piquet Jr. Panasonic Jaguar Racing DNF
20 Alex Lynn DS Virgin Racing DNF

Driver standings

1. Jean-Eric Vergne-Techeetah – 119
2. Sam Bird- DS Virgin Racing – 101
3. Felix Rosenqvist- Mahindra Racing – 82
4. Sebastien Buemi, Renault e.dams – 60
5. Daniel Abt, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler – 50
6. Nelson Piquet Jr Panasoni Jaguar Racing- 45
7. Mitch Evans- Panasonic Jaguar Racing- 43
8. Lucas Di Grassi- Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler- 39
9.Andre Lotterer- Techeetah- 33
10.Oliver Turvey- NIO Formula E Team- 32
11. Edoardo Mortara- Venturi Formula E Team- 29
12. Nick Heidfeld- Mahindra Racing- 21
13. Alex Lynn- DS Virgin Racing- 17
14. Antonio Felix da Costa-MS&AD Andretti Formula E- 16
15. Jose Maria Lopez- Dragon Racing- 13
16. Jerome D’Ambrosio- Dragon Racing- 12
17. Maro Engel- Venturi Formula E- 11
18. Nico Prost- Renualt E.DAMS- 7
19. Tom Blomqvist- MS&AD Formula E- 4
20. Luca Filippi- NIO Formula E Team- 1

Team standings

1. Techeetah – 152
2. DS Virgin Racing – 118
3. Mahindra Racing – 103
4. Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler – 89
5. Panasonic Jaguar Racing – 88
6. Renault e.dams – 67
7. Venturi Formula E Team – 40
8. NIO Formula E Team – 33
9. DRAGON – 25
10. MS&AD Andretti Formula E – 20

Embed from Getty Images