Two-time Formula E Champion Jean-Eric Vergne (DS Techeetah) was the victor in the 2021 ABB FIA Formula E Rome ePrix, providing action and excitement by Formula E’s finest gladiators in the Eternal City for the third time, with the two previous winners of the race right behind him: Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s Sam Bird and Mitch Evans.
Vergne, who qualified fifth, fought with Lucas Di Grassi (Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler) and Robin Frijns (Envision Virgin Racing) for the lead throughout the race.
“Veni, Vidi, Vici” said the Frenchman after securing his tenth victory in the championship. In Free Practice 1, he was hit by Oliver Turvey (NIO 333 Formula E) alongside Jake Dennis (BMW i Andretti Motorsport) which could have compromised his day of racing.
The race was however not free of incidents that brought out the new MINI Electric Pacesetter safety car: Di Grassi suffered a suspected drivetrain failure that caused a major event towards the end of the race. He lost power abruptly, trying to pull off the racing line to let others drive past.
Stoffel Vandoorne (Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team), who was right behind him, tried to avoid the collision but drove over a raised manhole cover and lost control of his car. Nyck De Vries (Mercedes), the championship leader, hit Vandoorne in the diffuser, putting both Mercedes cars out of the ePrix.
Vandoorne, who started the race on pole position, had previously been involved in a lap one incident with André Lotterer (TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E) , with the latter picking up a five-second penalty. The penalty put Lotterer at the back of the pack at the end and promoted rookie Nick Cassidy (Envision Virgin Racing) to tenth place and his first point in Formula E.
Perhaps the stars of the race were the two Jaguar Racing drivers, with Bird and Evans climbing from midfield starts to finish on the podium. Both drivers performed excellent overtakes and used their attack modes to good use. The result puts Bird to the top of the championship standings heading into Sunday’s second race of the weekend. Had the safety car not come out for the Vandoorne/de Vries incident, then there could have been an even better result for Jaguar, although they can celebrate their first-ever two-car podium finish in Formula E.
Frijns had a relatively quiet race by his standards but was still able to claim good points with a fourth place finish, just ahead of Nissan eDAMS driver Sébastien Buemi, while René Rast (Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler) drove superbly to claim sixth. Pascal Wehrlein (TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E), Alex Lynn (Mahindra Racing), Maximilian Günther (BMW i Andretti Motorsport) and Cassidy completed the points. Günther was lucky not to crash out, spinning wildly on the finish straight mid-way through the race and amazingly avoiding major damage despite his rear wing hitting the wall.
Antonio Felix Da Costa (DS Techeetah), the 2019/2020 Formula E Champion, had a lacklustre performance, starting in eigthteenth but not finishing the race. This is despite a new powertrain being added to the DS Techeetah Formula E car for this weekend in Rome. Mechanical issues also ended the races of Alexander Sims (Mahindra Racing), Edoardo Mortara (ROKIT Venturi Racing) and Dennis, while Turvey failed to start due to the damage caused in his free practice crash.
Two Drive-Through penalties were given during the race to Oliver Rowland (Nissan E.DAMS) and Sérgio Sette Câmara (Dragon/Penske Autosport) for overuse of power. Rowland had just inherited the lead after the Vandoorne/Lotterer crash when he received notification of the penalty, with the drive-through ending his chances of a good result.
|1||25||Jean-Eric Vergne||FRA||DS Techeetah||48:47.177|
|2||10||Sam Bird||GBR||Jaguar Racing||+0.461|
|3||20||Mitch Evans||NZL||Jaguar Racing||+0.756|
|4||4||Robin Frijns||NED||Envision Virgin Racing||+1.034|
|5||23||Sebastien Buemi||CHE||Nissan e.DAMS||+3.142|
|6||33||Rene Rast||GER||Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler||+3.534|
|7||99||Pascal Wehrlein||GER||TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team||+3.918|
|8||94||Alex Lynn||GBR||Mahindra Racing||+5.720|
|9||28||Maximilian Gunther||GER||BMW i Andretti Motorsport||+18.296|
|10||37||Nick Cassidy||NZL||Envision Virgin Racing||+18.763|
|11||88||Tom Blomqvist||GBR||NIO 333 FE Team||+19.089|
|12||71||Norman Nato||FRA||ROKIT Venturi Racing||+20.045|
|13||22||Oliver Rowland||GBR||Nissan e.DAMS||+20.270|
|14||6||Nico Muller||CHE||Dragon/Penske Autosport||+21.155|
|15||7||Sergio Sette Camara||BRZ||Dragon/Penske Autosport||+21.415|
|16||36||Andre Lotterer||GER||TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team||+22.987|
|RET||17||Nyck de Vries||NED||Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team||Retired|
|RET||11||Lucas di Grassi||BRZ||Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler||Retired|
|RET||5||Stoffel Vandoorne||BEL||Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team||Retired|
|RET||13||Antonio Felix da Costa||POR||DS Techeetah||Retired|
|RET||27||Jake Dennis||GBR||BMW i Andretti Motorsport||Retired|
|RET||48||Edoardo Mortara||CHE||ROKIT Venturi Racing||Retired|
|RET||29||Alexander Sims||GBR||Mahindra Racing||Retired|
|DNS||8||Oliver Turvey||GBR||NIO 333 FE Team||Did Not Start|