Vandoorne gains redemption for Mercedes with Rome E-Prix 2 win

Sam Bloxham/Motorsport Images

Vandoorne gains redemption for Mercedes with Rome E-Prix 2 win

Formula E

Vandoorne gains redemption for Mercedes with Rome E-Prix 2 win

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Mercedes-EQ’s Stoffel Vandoorne launched himself into the ABB Formula E World Championship drivers’ championship mix with the race win and TAG Heuer Fastest Lap award in Round 4 — second race of the Rome E-Prix doubleheader — after another frantic encounter on the Circuito Cittadino dell’EUR street course.

Vandoorne (Mercedes-EQ) bounced back from a disappointing Race 1 to fight his way from fourth to the front, holding fast to lead home Alexander Sims (Mahindra Racing), with Porsche’s Pascal Wehrlein taking the final podium berth after Norman Nato (ROKiT Venturi Racing) was penalized for energy overuse — such were the fine margins in the final portion of the race.

As in Round 3, Round 4 got going behind the safety car with a few slick patches left around the circuit under the trees after the morning’s wet practice and qualifying sessions.

It was a disastrous start for polesitter Nick Cassidy once the field was released, as the Envision Virgin Racing driver locked up the rear tires and spun at Turn 7, falling to 11th position. He reported to the team that a software glitch had prompted the lock-up.

Within three laps, though, New Zealander Cassidy was battling back, moving beyond both Sam Bird (Jaguar Racing) and Sebastien Buemi (Nissan e.dams) for ninth while race leader Nato had Pascal Wehrlein’s Porsche all over his rear diffuser.

The Frenchman couldn’t hold on long, with Wehrlein snapping out of the slipstream to pinch the lead on Lap 3 and Vandoorne followed immediately with a muscular pass at the Marconi Hairpin. Wehrlein led from Vandoorne, Nato, Maximilian Guenther (BMW i Andretti Motorsport), Sims, Edo Mortara (ROKiT Venturi Racing), Cassidy, Oliver Rowland (Nissan e.dams), Nico Mueller (Dragon/Penske Autosport) and Bird.

Cassidy’s recovery reached seventh spot by Lap 4, but Rowland gave the Envision Virgin Racing car a nudge into Turn 14, forcing the Kiwi into the Tecpro barriers and all the way to the back of the pack.

As the first round of Attack Mode power boost activations began to shake out, it looked like Vandoorne had been the big winner. Wehrlein was last of the front-runners to jump and it cost him first spot — the Mercedes man getting the better of the Porsche driver in the battle of the Stuttgart manufacturers.

Heading inside the half-hour plus one lap, contact between Sebastien Buemi and Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler) in mid-pack resulted in a mess of carbon fiber, the latter accusing the former of a “crazy move” that spun him on the back straight into the wall. A full-course yellow was the result while the Audi was cleared.

When the race went green once again five minutes later, Sims caught Wehrlein napping to steal second spot with Vandoorne scampering five seconds clear of the pair of them, the Belgian using his advantage to use Attack Mode number two.

Into the final 20 minutes plus a lap, DS Techeetah’s Antonio Felix da Costa was also making progress – slicing beyond Mitch Evans (Jaguar Racing) and Buemi in quick succession for eighth, up from 15th on the grid at the start. Five minutes later, he jumped by Rowland for seventh in the tricky Turn 7 braking zone, although in any case, the Briton was slapped with a 10-second penalty for that earlier move on Cassidy.

The podium positions held station with Vandoorne leading Sims and Wehrlein. Nato held fourth, his teammate Mortara fifth and Guenther sixth. That was, until Lap 17 when Nato slipped up the inside of Wehrlein for a provisional podium — top stuff from the rookie.

With a little over five minutes plus one lap to run, a shunt for Rene Rast as the Audi driver scrapped on the cusp of the points and pushed a little too far meant another appearance this weekend for the Mini Electric Pacesetter safety car.

Leader Vandoorne saw his ample advantage quashed with the pack now backed up. The race became a one-lap dash and the Mercedes led away, using Fanboost as a defense. Behind Vandoorne, Mortara produced the save of the season to hold Guenther off and keep it out of the wall.

Meanwhile, the pre-race championship leader Bird, and the man third in the running, Nyck de Vries, were wiped out in contact as they fought for points on the cusp of the top 10, with Rowland also involved.

Vandoorne held firm to take the checkered flag and redeem his race weekend after falling from pole after contact in Saturday’s race. Sims followed second just 0.6s back, with Nato taking a first Formula E podium on track. However, he was subsequently disqualified for energy overuse, however, with Wehrlein profiting to fill that final podium berth.

“Today was all about redemption for yesterday,” said Vandoorne. “The pace of the car has been great the whole weekend and today we managed to get a decent qualifying session despite the challenging track conditions. I want to congratulate my team. We had a very good strategy with Attack Mode and managed to build a gap when needed. It feels good to achieve this today with this team.”

“The team seemed pleased with the result today,” mused Sims. “The gap to overtake Pascal was pretty narrow, but we reacted well and had a successful strategy. I am happy with the race and the way we used Attack Mode. It is my second weekend with Mahindra Racing and we still have lots to learn with pace and qualifying. We’ll keep working and trying.”

Mortara came home fourth, followed by Guenther, Evans, da Costa, Tom Blomqvist (NIO 333), Mueller and Buemi completed the top 10.

Race 2 of the Rome E-Prix doubleheader airs today on CBS Sports Network beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET.

PROVISIONAL RESULTS
Pos. Drive Time (Points)
1
Stoffel Vandoorne
46:52.603s
(26)
2
Alexander Sims
+0.666s
(18)
3
Pascal Wehrlein
+2.346s
(15)
4
Edoardo Mortara
+5.018s
(12)
5
Maximilian Guenther
+5.305s
(10)
6
Mitch Evans
+5.671s
(8)
7
Antonio Felix da Costa
+6.133s
(6)
8
Tom Blomqvist
+12.032s
(4)
9
Nico Mueller
+12.872s
(2)
10
Sebastien Buemi
+14.795s
(1)
11
Jean-Eric Vergne
+15.676s
12
Sergio Sette Camara
+16.009s
13
Jake Dennis
+16.352s
14
Oliver Turvey
+17.134s
15
Andre Lotterer
+17.838s
16
Oliver Rowland
+21.140s
17
Alex Lynn
+37.697s
18
Robin Frijns
+43.103s
DNF
Sam Bird
22 Laps
DNF
Nyck de Vries
22 Laps
DNF
Nick Cassidy
21 Laps
(3)
DNF
René Rast
19 Laps
DNF
Lucas di Grassi
7 Laps
DSQ
Norman Nato
23 Laps
(1)
 

 

2020/21 ABB FIA FORMULA E WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
DRIVER STANDINGS
Sam Bird
Jaguar Racing
43
Mitch Evans
Jaguar Racing
39
Robin Frijns
Envision Virgin Racing
34
Stoffel Vandoorne
Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team
33
Nyck de Vries
Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team
32
Pascal Wehrlein
TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team
32
Edoardo Mortara
ROKiT Venturi Racing
30
Jean-Eric Vergne
DS TECHEETAH
25
Alexander Sims
Mahindra Racing
24
Antonio Felix da Costa
DS TECHEETAH
21
René Rast
Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler
21
Oliver Rowland
Nissan e.dams
15
Sergio Sette Camara
DRAGON / PENSKE AUTOSPORT
12
Nico Müller
DRAGON / PENSKE AUTOSPORT
12
Maximilian Guenther
BMW i Andretti Motorsport
12
Sebastien Buemi
Nissan e.dams
11
Oliver Turvey
NIO 333 FE Team
9
Lucas di Grassi
Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler
6
Tom Blomqvist
NIO 333 FE Team
5
Alexander Lynn
Mahindra Racing
4
Nick Cassidy
Envision Virgin Racing
3
Norman Nato
ROKiT Venturi Racing
1
Andre Lotterer
TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team
0
Jake Dennis
BMW i Andretti Motorsport
0
 

 

2020/21 ABB FIA FORMULA E WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
TEAM STANDINGS
Jaguar Racing
82
Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team
65
DS TECHEETAH
46
Envision Virgin Racing
37
TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team
32
ROKiT Venturi Racing
31
Mahindra Racing
28
Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler
27
Nissan e.dams
26
DRAGON / PENSKE AUTOSPORT
24
NIO 333 FE Team
14
BMW i Andretti Motorsport
12

Updated with quotes, results and to reflect post-race DQ of Norman Nato.

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