Evans outpaces Frijns and Vandoorne in Rome E-Prix race 1

Sam Bloxham/Motorsport Images

Evans outpaces Frijns and Vandoorne in Rome E-Prix race 1

International Racing

Evans outpaces Frijns and Vandoorne in Rome E-Prix race 1


Jaguar TCS Racing’s Mitch Evans claimed victory on the streets of Rome for the second time in his ABB FIA Formula E World Championship career, pulling away from the field leading Envision Racing’s Robin Frijns and Mercedes-EQ’s Stoffel Vandoorne in third in the first of two races on the 19-turn, 3.385km/2.1-mile street circuit.

Poleman Vandoorne held onto the lead at the start, fending off Frijns in P2. sudged from behind by ROKiT Venturi’s Edoardo Mortara, Mahindra Racing’s Oliver Rowland hit the barrier on Turn 7, causing cars to back up behind the British driver. Shortly after, Nissan e.dams’ Max Guenther crashed into the barrier on Turn 11, bringing the Porsche Taycan safety car out while his stricken race car was recovered.

With 35 minutes left on the clock, racing commenced with Vandoorne out in front leading Frijns and Mercedes-EQ’s Nyck de Vries.

Sandwiched between the Mercedes-EQ drivers, Frijns was fighting for the lead, biding his time to make a move on Vandoorne.

With 29 minutes remaining, DS Techeetah’s Antonio Felix da Costa in fourth took Attack Mode to use the extra power to close in on the top three.

Down into Turn 4, Frijns made his move on Vandoorne, pulling past the Mercedes driver on the inside of the turn to take the lead. The following lap, both Mercedes’ drivers took Attack Mode — allowing da Costa to move into second — to close in on race leader Frijns. With his Attack Mode used and Vandoorne still in the higher power mode, the Mercedes driver slipped into second behind Frijns.

Despite contending for the lead early on, da Costa continued to slip down the order before a knock from Avalanche Andretti’s Jake Dennis on Turn 4 set him further back behind the British driver and Jaguar TCS Racing’s Mitch Evans.

Back at the front, Vandoorne and Frijns continued to trade places with Frijns using his Attack Mode between Turn 3 and 4 to pass the Belgian driver and hold the Mercedes driver at bay in second.

With 14 minutes left on the clock, Vandoorne blasted past Frijns on the uphill section between Turn 6 and 7 in a beautifully-executed move using Attack Mode, to take the lead.

Despite starting in third, de Vries appeared to be struggling, slipping down the order. Back at the front, Jaguar’s Evans had made his way up from ninth and — using extra power from Attack Mode — made a successful move on Vandoorne and Frijns to take the lead.

Evans- – a one-time winner in Rome — was clear of the pack, out in front by a comfortable margin. After the safety car outing earlier in the race, the race was extended by 5m15s of Added Time.

After slipping down, Vandoorne used his Fanboost to climb back up the order, eventually settling behind Evans in second. Now into added time, Evans held firm at the front, followed by Vandoorne and DS Techeetah’s Jean-Eric Vergne, who’d made his way into third.

Close together Vergne led Frijns and Mortara in the battle for third. Around the Obelisk, Frijns passed Vergne to take third with less than two minutes of added time left.

In a flat-out fight on the final lap, Evans held on to lead Frijns and Vandoorne to the line.

“I’m feeling great. We have had a tough start to the season, to be honest — there has been a lot of work gone in behind the scenes, and the car was absolutely perfect, I couldn’t have asked for any more,” said Evans.

“I love this city, I love the track — it really suits my driving style and when you have a car like I had today it makes life a lot easier. I couldn’t quite believe it, especially when I was getting the energy, but you have to take it when it comes. I have been on the receiving end of it a couple of times this year, so it was nice to get the pace back. Hopefully this sets the scene for the rest of the championship.”

Frijns said he had nothing left for Evans at the end.

“I think I felt strong from the beginning — I had great fun with Stoffel fighting basically the whole race. But then Mitch came and overtook us, so I didn’t have much fun with him!” he related. “But I am happy I finished P2. Mitch and Jag were too strong for us today. I think we have a good car but we just need to find that edge. I have been finishing in P2 the last four times or whatever! But it’s time for a victory hopefully tomorrow.”

Race 2 from Rome follows Sunday, and will be televised on a same-day delay basis on CBS Sports Network.