Evans wins first Rome race after major crash, Cassidy grabs points lead

Formula E

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Mitch Evans claimed victory in the first race of the Rome EPrix weekend at Rome after a violent crash involving his team mate caused a lengthy interruption.

The Jaguar driver converted pole into victory and the fastest lap, passing Jake Dennis for the lead in the later laps. Nick Cassidy finished second to reclaim the lead of the drivers’ championship, with Maximilian Guenther completing the podium in third.

The two Jaguar drivers had locked out the front row with Mitch Evans taking pole from team mate Sam Bird. But it was Bird who took the lead on the long run to the first corner, with Sacha Fenestraz in third ahead of McLaren’s Rene Rast and championship leader Jake Dennis in fifth after fourth-placed started Sebastien Buemi lost five places on the opening lap.

Championship contender Pascal Wehrlein suffered front wing damage on the first lap which left him understeering badly around the street circuit. The Porsche driver was forced to pit to fix his damage, dropping him to the back of the field.

By the third lap, Evans was pressuring his team mate for the lead of the race. But despite having a look into turn seven, Bird held off the sister Jaguar. Further back, Andre Lotterer ended up in the wall with major damage to the right hand side of his Andretti, which prompted the first Safety Car of the race.

Racing quickly resumed at the start of lap five with Bird leading away his team mat. But Evans would move ahead of Bird to take the lead on the run to turn seven on the first green flag lap, Bird offering little resistance. The next lap, Fenestraz overtook Bird for second place on the run to turn seven, before Rast demoted Bird a third place in three laps at the same corner.

Evans was the first of the leaders to take Attack Mode for the first time on lap eight, handing the lead to Fenestraz. Fenestraz followed on the next lap, taking two minutes’ worth like Evans, but held onto the lead. Behind, Rast took six minutes of Attack Mode, with Bird in fourth.

Then, on lap nine, a horrifying accident occurred when Bird lost control of his car through the fast, blind left hander of turn six, crashing into the wall and coming to a rest in the centre of the track. The Jaguar was struck by Sebastien Buemi and Edoardo Mortara, with Antonio Felix da Costa, Lucas Di Grassi, Pascal Wehrlein and Robin Frijns all suffering damage.

The race was immediately red flagged, with all drivers involved reported to be free from injuries. A long suspension followed until the race was able to restart, with Bird, Buemi, Da Costa, Mortara Di Grassi and Frijns all forced out of the race due to damage.

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When the lights went out for a second time on lap ten, Fenestraz held onto his lead while Dennis battled past Rene Rast to take third. The field remained very compact after the restart, with Fenestraz leading a train of cars.

Rast lost fourth place to Nick Cassidy, before pulling into the pit lane. Further back, Dan Ticktum suffered front wing damage due to contact approaching turn seven and was also forced into the pits.

Dennis passed Evans for second place, before eventually moved ahead of Fenestraz on lap 15 to take the lead of the race for the first time. Dennis was yet to take any of his Attack Mode and he quickly set about trying to build a lead over Fenestraz. He managed to pull out over two seconds by the time he took two minutes’ of Attack Mode on lap 16, allowing him to rejoin still in the lead.

Dennis would take his final six minutes of Attack Mode on lap 19, handing the lead back to Evans. Evans handed back the lead when he attempted to take Attack Mode on lap 20, but the Jaguar was not granted it after missing one of the activation loops. However, he was able to take it on the next time by and he soon used his extra power to catch and pass Dennis for the lead of the race.

Cassidy in third place also had many minutes of Attack Mode remaining and used it to pass his championship rival and move up to second. Dennis’s frustrations were compounded the next lap when Maximilian Guenther then demoted him to fourth, meaning he would drop more points to Cassidy in the championship.

The top three were nose-to-tail as they completed lap 25 to begin the two added laps of racing for the Safety Car periods. However, Evans pulled away over the final two laps and led Cassidy over the line to take his third win of the season and second consecutive victory at Rome, throwing himself right back into the thick of the title fight with maximum points for fastest lap.

Cassidy claimed the lead of the championship in second, with Guenther coming home in third after backing off in the final laps. Dennis just held onto fourth place despite heavy pressure from Vergne in the final laps, with Nico Muller taking sixth place. Wehrlein was seventh, but is under investigation for overspeeding under Safety Car, with Sergio Sette Camara and Fenestraz completing the top ten.

The results see Cassidy back in the lead of the championship by five points over Dennis with 171, with Evans 20 points back in third.

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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3 comments on “Evans wins first Rome race after major crash, Cassidy grabs points lead”

  1. Exactly the same situation as SPA. Luckily withouth deaths this time.

    Same problem, it is not the circuit, it is the late deployment of the double yellow flags.

    Like in Spa as well as here, after the first crash, the second one going sideways across the track was maybe not preventable. But if double yellow os deployed after that first one the oncommers at least can stop in time for the one that went sideways following the inotial incident

    1. I’m not sure how much this would have helped here.

      The first collision happened about a second after Bird crashed, and the second about 5s later. It will always take at least a couple of seconds for flags to come out, then the drivers won’t be able to react instantly.

      I think the problem here is visibility. In the most recent Spa incident, this was down to the weather. In this, it was just the layout of the track. Racing in situations where you cannot see far enough ahead to react is dangerous.

    2. In spa there was a good 10 to 15 seconds from the first car crashing off track to the one spinning and being stationary on track. Another 5 until the deadly crash.

      In this case its bot that much but still a long time before flags came out if any at all.

      Its not the tracks that are causing these…

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