The European leg of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship began yesterday, taking the race to the streets of the magnificent city of Rome for the first time. After six rounds of the championship, this marked the start of the CBMM Niobium Rome E-Prix.
Fully electric single-seater street racing was held in the Italian capital for the first time ever. All the action took place on the specially designed Circuito Cittadino dell’EUR; at 2.84km long, the track is the second-longest track in the calendar. The cars will be racing around the Obelisco di Marconi, against the backdrop of the iconic Colosseo Quadrato. With a total of 21 turns, the start/finish line of the track is located on Via Cristoforo Colombo.
Mahindra Racing faced heartbreak on account of Felix Rosenqvist, who led the race convincingly from pole from but retired a few laps from finish due to damage to the left rear wheel. Following a set of meticulous practice sessions, Felix Rosenqvist put in an absolutely unassailable lap to take super pole. Meanwhile, teammate Nick Heidfeld put himself in 10th position on the starting grid.
After a clean start and getaway from pole position, Felix spent a few laps holding off against Sam Bird, from Virgin Racing, behind him. After settling into his rhythm, Felix comfortably started to open the gap to Bird and consolidate his lead. With everything going according to plan, a very quick pit-stop from Felix and his team of mechanics kept him in the lead after all the pit stops were done, up and down the order.
Back into his rhythm and looking comfy once again, Felix kept increasing the gap to Bird. However, on lap 22 – in what was an otherwise regular lap – he unexpectedly hit a kerb, suffering rear wheel damage and was forced to retire from the race.
Starting from 10th position, Nick Heidfeld remained incident-free so as to be able to push hard in the second stint. While maintaining position and on a quick in-lap (lap16) he was shunted into the wall at the apex of the hairpin by another car. Two more cars became a part of the pile-up. This unfortunate accident pushed Nick down into 17th position. After a routine pit-stop followed by an event-free second stint, the Mahindra racer brought his car home in 16th position.
After a race which ideally should have had Mahindra Racing and Rosenqvist on top, Anand Mahindra, chairman, Mahindra Group tweeted his comments, saying, "Heartbreak is an understatement. A champion like Felix should have been bounding on to the podium today... Ah well we will live to fight and Rise another day..."
Commenting on the race, Dilbagh Gill, Team Principal and CEO, Mahindra Racing said, "Really disappointed to lose another race from the lead. We will be working hard to improving the reliability of the M4Electro, which is undoubtedly fast. We will be back in Paris for a strong race finish.”
Felix Rosenqvist said, "Another very tough one to take for everyone. I feel bad for the boys. I’m super impressed by the team because it’s been a hectic weekend and everyone delivered in every session. Something that we couldn’t predict happened; we had a breakage with no connection to any specific incident. I always have a smile on my face when I know I’ve given all I can and that the team was flawless. Crazy pace today and we led every lap until we broke down. There are still a lot of positives to take from today.”
"After the start into turn one, there was the usual expected chaos with such a tight corner but the car is strong and I managed to keep going," Nick Heidfled added. "On my in-lap while attempting to pass Turvey at the hairpin (who was very low on energy), there was another car that went into him, in turn sending him into me, and this effectively ended my race.”
The FIA Formula E Championship now goes to Paris, France for round eight, on April 28, 2018.
Mahindra Racing is one of 10 founding teams (and the only Indian team) competing in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship – the world’s first all-electric racing series.
RESULTS OF THE SEVENTH ROUND (ROME ePRIX)
1 – Sam Bird, DS Virgin Racing, 58:20.656s (25)
2 – Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, +0.970s (18)
3 – Andre Lotterer, Techeetah, +9.518s (15)
4 – Daniel Abt, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, +10.167s (13)
5 – Jean-Eric Vergne, Techeetah, +17.444s (10)
6 – Sebastien Buemi, Renault e.dams, +19.835s (8)
7 – Jerome D’Ambrosio, Dragon, +24.379s (6)
8 – Maro Engel, Venturi Formula E Team, +26.350s (4)
9 – Mitch Evans, Panasonic Jaguar Racing, +37.709s (2)
10 – Edoardo Mortara, Venturi Formula E Team, +40.739s (1)
11 – Antonio Felix da Costa, Andretti Formula E, +42.680s
12 – Oliver Turvey, NIO Formula E Team, +48.833s
13 – Luca Filippi, NIO Formula E Team, +49.331s
14 – Nico Prost, Renault e.dams, +1:13.880s
15 – Tom Blomqvist, Andretti Formula E, +1:31.832s
16 – Nick Heidfeld, Mahindra Racing, +1:44.774s
17 – Jose Maria Lopez, Dragon, +4 Laps
DNF – Felix Rosenqvist, Mahindra Racing, 22 Laps (3)
DNF – Nelson Piquet Jr, Panasonic Jaguar Racing, 18 Laps
DNF – Alex Lynn, DS Virgin Racing, 15 Laps
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
Techeetah – 152
DS Virgin Racing – 118
Mahindra Racing – 103
Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler – 89
Panasonic Jaguar Racing – 88
Renault e.dams – 67
Venturi Formula E Team – 40
NIO Formula E Team – 33
DRAGON – 25
Andretti Formula E – 20