Rome E-Prix: Mitch Evans' historic double-victory a warning for championship leader Jean-Eric Vergne
Mitch Evans' double at the Rome E-Prix has served a warning to Jean-Eric Vergne, who leads the Drivers’ Championship on 60 points heading into his home race in Monaco at the end of the month. Vergne finished runner-up in the second race of the double-header at the Circuito Cittadino dell'EUR in Rome having started on pole.
Mitch Evans completes sensational double sweep in Rome
DS TECHEETAH’s Jean-Eric Vergne said that Mitch Evans’ dominance at the 2022 Rome E-Prix should serve as a warning to the rest of the grid as the Jaguar TCS Racing driver completed a historic double-victory across the weekend in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.
Evans, who showed exceptional pace in the Saturday race to take the chequered flag from starting in P9, produced an arguably more impressive performance to claim victory on the Sunday race – his third E-Prix win in Rome.
Vergne leads the Drivers’ Championship on 60 points heading into his home race in Monaco at the end of the month, finishing runner-up in the second race of the double-header at the Circuito Cittadino dell'EUR in Rome having started on pole.
But speaking in the aftermath, the Frenchman was quick to play down the significance of the championship standings at this stage and warned his team they must do better to keep pace with the likes of Jaguar.
“The Jaguar and Mitch were way too fast this weekend, I hope that is only going to be a one-off from their side, otherwise it might be difficult to beat them,” he said.
“Today it was impossible. I am fairly happy with second, it was the best I could do, but I am going to urge my team to do better if we want to fight for wins because every time there is someone stronger than us. It is not good enough, so we need to work hard in Monaco to be the best.
"Leading the championship at this race, everyone will have forgotten if you don't win the championship - so it is at the end that matters."
‘What a fabulous race’ - Evans ignites his Formula E season with thrilling victory in Rome
Evans, meanwhile, heaped praise onto his team on what proved to be the perfect weekend for Jaguar TCS Racing to reignite their title credentials.
"It feels like deja vu! This is a result of pure graft, hard work, I just want to thank everyone at the team because the last eight weeks have been insane with the amount of work that has gone in.
"It has been a big couple of days! It was what we wanted, you dream about that but to try and pull it off is usually quite unrealistic. We are back as a team, I am back towards the top, so it is good times."
Watch key moment Frijns assumes lead over Vandoorne at Rome ePrix
The Kiwi driver led Poleman Vergne in second and Envision Racing's Robin Frijns who couldn’t top yesterday’s second place finish to come home in third.
Vergne pulled away from Pole while his former teammate and TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team driver André Lotterer passed Avalanche Andretti's Jake Dennis into second. By the top of the hill and Turn 7, Dennis had reclaimed second, dropping Lotterer back down to third.
With a collision between Mahindra Racing's Alex Sims and Nissan e.dams’ Max Guenther, the German driver retired to the pits, ending his race inside five minutes.
Despite setting the fastest lap in Qualifying earlier in the day, Jake Dennis started losing ground after Lotterer attacked at Turn 7, reclaiming second. Shortly after, yesterday's race winner Evans slipped past into third.
Squeezing into Turn 4 side by side, standings leader and ROKiT Venturi Racing driver Edoardo Mortara tried to pass DS TECHEETAH's Antonio Felix da Costa, with the Portuguese racer closing the door on the Swiss, damaging the front wing of his car. Mortara then clipped the wall on Turn 19 and coasted to safety, retiring from the race with a suspected driveshaft failure.
Dramatic moment Rowland crashes on opening lap at Rome ePrix
Dennis continued to slip down the order to seventh as the race passed the halfway mark. At the front, Evans continued to lead Vergne, with Porsche's Lotterer in second and Frijns in third.
Enjoying the benefit of the extra power gained through his eight-minute ATTACK MODE, Frijns made his way up the order and took race leader Evans up the hill on Turn 7.
Paying the price for closing the door earlier on Mortara, da Costa received a five-minute time penalty while back at the front, Lotterer was looking to take the lead with extra power gained through ATTACK MODE.
With seconds of his ATTACK MODE power left, Lotterer made his move on Frijns to take the lead into Turn 4. Now setting the pace, the German driver was closing in on his first victory in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship with 10 minutes left on the clock.
After a short Safety Car while Sims' Mahindra car was recovered after a spin on Turn 14, the racing was back under way - now with 5m15s of TAG Heuer Added Time to extend the race.
Saving his ATTACK MODE until the end of the race, Evans took the boost with less than eight minutes of the race remaining. With extra power, Evans went after Lotterer, hunting the German driver before taking the lead on the hill up to Turn 7.
With Evans holding firm, Vergne slipped past his former teammate Lotterer, jumping to second, before Frijns made a move on the German to knock him off the podium and into fourth.
With Envision Racing's Nick Cassidy in the wall at the top of Turn 7, the Safety Car made a brief appearance before coming in to leave a last lap dash for the finish.
With Evans out in front and Vergne close behind, the Frenchman was on the attack to regain his lead. Unable to catch Evans, the Jaguar driver crossed the line victorious, once again, for the second time in the Rome double-header.
Close behind, Vergne came in second with Envision's Frijns back on the Rome podium in third.
The ABB FIA Formula E World Championship moves onto Monaco for Round 6 on 30 April.
Season 8 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship continued this weekend for a double-header at one of the all-electric series’ flagship street races at the Circuito Cittadino dell'EUR in Rome.
Almost 20,000 attending fans were treated to a spectacle of dramatic, wheel-to-wheel racing as a certain Kiwi stole the show. Here are all the talking points from the weekend:
Perfect weekend for electric Evans and Jaguar
It was a brilliant performance across the weekend by Jaguar TCS Racing’s Mitch Evans who claimed victory in both races in Rome.
An underwhelming start to the weekend saw Evans qualify in P9 on the Saturday but some exceptional energy management and pace in the car led to the 27-year-old overtaking almost half of the grid, all while holding off persistent challenges from Envision Racing’s Robin Frijns and Mercedes-EQ’s Stoffel Vandoorne, who finished second and third respectively.
The Kiwi subsequently said even he “couldn’t quite believe” the result, but the story would get even more remarkable on the Sunday.
Some more formidable driving on the Sunday allowed Evans to secure another win, his third Formula E victory at the track at the Circuito Cittadino dell’EUR, and put the Jaguar man right in the mix for Championship contention – fourth in the Drivers’ standings on 51 points.
Vergne heads into home E-Prix on top
DS TECHEETAH’s Jean-Eric Vergne’s podium on the Sunday was enough to catapult the Frenchman to the top of the Drivers’ standings on 60 points ahead of his home race in Monaco on April 30.
Vergne, the only driver to win the Formula E title twice, was keen to play down his chance when speaking after the race and said he still demands more from himself and his team.
"The championship is still very long, consistency is key, but if we want to win we need to have more pace. Leading the championship at this race, everyone will have forgotten if you don't win the championship – so it is at the end that matters."
But once the dust settles the 31-year-old will know he has put himself right back amongst the title contenders having been one of the most consistent drivers on the grid with points scored in all five races this season, including two podiums.
And with a home crowd to look forward to at the Circuit de Monaco, Vergne will be relishing the chance to take his first race victory of the season and further strengthen his claim for a third championship title.
Frijns making steady progress in the title race
While Evans stole the show across the weekend, Robin Frijns will also look back feeling good about the work done by his team.
The Dutchman secured two podium positions, finishing runner-up on the Saturday race and third on the Sunday race, and now sits second in the championship – just two points behind Vergne.
Although stating frustration that he still hasn’t won an E-Prix this season, Frijns admitted in the aftermath it was a “good weekend” for the Envision team as they head into Monaco.
The 30-year-old has not won a Formula E race since Season 5 (New York City) but seven podiums since that race underlines the consistency of one of the most underrated drivers on the grid, who may well be a dark horse in the championship fight this season.
Mercedes still top but miss an opportunity
On the face of it, Mercedes-EQ will head into Round 6 in Monaco in a strong position, top of the Teams’ Championship on 94 points after taking home a third podium of the season.
But the German giants may feel a sense of missed opportunity after failing to take advantage of another good qualifying performance that saw Stoffel Vandoorne take Julius Baer Pole Position on the Saturday.
Vandoorne, speaking after the Saturday race, put this down to the new qualifying system, which has seen the quicker cars qualify better and means those championship contenders no longer have a buffer of cars blocking them at the front of the grid behind the pole setter.
The pace shown by the car in the opening rounds underlines why Mercedes will no doubt be right amongst the challengers come the business end of the season in the summer, but Ian James’ team will know the importance of converting qualifying pace into results if they are to retain their title.
The ABB FIA Formula E World Championship returns Saturday 30 April for the 2022 Monaco E-Prix.