Rome ePrix: Jaguar on Cloud Nine as Evans Takes First Win

At last it was success for New Zealander Mitch Evans and the Panasonic Jaguar Formula E Team as both driver and team took their respective first win in the series. Evans eventually wrestled the lead from DS Techeetah’s Andre Lotterer, in an action packed race that also saw yet another mid race red flag, and mixed conditions throughout the day.

Lotterer started on Pole Position after a tense Qualifying session with Evans alongside. The left side of the field got a far better start than the right thanks to the tarmac being wet and hindering grip for some drivers. Jose Maria Lopez had an awful first lap, going straight on at turn one and breaking Sam Bird’s car after he hit the Envision Virgin driver. Geox Dragon teammate Maximilian Gunther also had contact with the wall sending the car into a fierce slide on the first lap, with BMW iAndretti’s Alex Sims also hitting the wall on the first lap.

The red flag was thrown very early on as Lopez crashed into the chicane at turn 17, giving HWA Racelab’s Gary Paffett with nowhere to go but into the back of his car, in turn leaving Jean Eric Vergne to hit them also. The accident completely blocked the circuit, but all drivers apart from Paffett made the restart after the necessary fixes were complete on the drivers’ cars.

Almost an hour later the race finally restarted as race control sorted out the order of the drivers, with Evans fighting hard with Lotterer for the top spot. In what looked to be a good day for Venturi ended in disaster as both Edoardo Mortara and Felipe Massa retired with issues, taking both cars out of promising points positions. A full course yellow was put out to recover Massa’s car and Vergne was penalised as a result of overtaking Antonio Felix DaCosta when the yellow came out.

Evans squeezed past Lotterer through the turn 11/12 chicane in a daring move that nearly left both cars in the wall. A slight worry for the Jaguar team near the end as Evans tried to activate his second attack mode but it did not work, prompting the New Zealander to try again. There was also a lot of tension near the end as many cars, including Lotterer and Evans were facing running out of power on the last lap but everybody held on to finish, with the exception of Gunther, who did run out of power.

Evans takes his first win since the GP2 sprint race at the Red Bull Ring in 2016, and Jaguar’s first as a works team since the 1991 World Supercars round at the Nurburgring, ensuring a race both parties will not forget. Lotterer finished in second with Paffett’s teammate Stoffel Vandoorne took third and his first Formula E podium after a deserving race for the ex-McLaren F1 driver.

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