Round 13 and Round 14 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship took place in the Italian capital of Rome. As the heat in the air and the track heated up, the championship battle reached new levels with chaos on Saturday and Sunday.
The first round kicked off with a Jaguar front row; Sam Bird overtook his teammate Mitch Evans off of the line at the start. Sacha Fenestraz maintained P3 withSebastien Buemi falling down the order after contact with Rene Rast. Edo Mortara went for a dive and held up Nick Cassidy in the opening stages, but he fell down the order as championship leader Jake Dennis made his way up to P5. It was a poor race for Pascal Wehrlein, he started in the top ten – however, the title contender fell down to P13 due to damage. Evans tried to battle for P1 but was unsuccessful as Andre Lotterer’s Andretti collided with the barrier, bringing out the safety car for a couple of laps.
The pair of Jaguars battled again after the safety car restart and ended up swapping positions, with Evans taking the lead. Bird soon began to falter, he was overtaken by the Nissan rookie of Fenestraz as Rene Rast tried to pounce on the British driver. Rast was able to make a move on Sam Bird a lap later as Da Costa also moved up . Evans went for attack mode in the opening stages, ended up dropping behind Fenestraz as the rookie took control and the lead of the race. He was able to keep the lead as the first glut of drivers began to take the attack mode.
After a brief yellow flag, the race was red flagged for a MONUMENTAL crash. Sam Bird lost the rear end of his car on a blind corner and crashed into the wall, ended up stranded in the middle of the track Buemi was the first car to pass but ended up being collected by the rear end of Bird’s car. Meanwhile, Mortara crashed into Bird’s stranded car. As replays show, the Mahindra of Di Grassi was also collected at the same place as Buemi on Bird’s car and he ended up crashing out too. After about 40 minutes, the cars lined up again after the red flag to resume the race with 13 drivers left in the race.
Rast lost positions at the start of the race to P4 with Dennis making his way to the podium positions, battling with Evans. Gunther and Rast went side by side after turn 4 but Cassidy managed to overtake the Maserati. Nico Muller also had a terrible race, colliding with Dan Ticktum and Jean-Eric Vergne, the former picked up damage. As the time ticked down, Dennis and Cassidy remained towards the front with their attack mode still intact. Fenestraz lead from Evans in P2 and Dennis in P3 but Fenestraz began to struggle in the closing stages. Dennis began to make moves, overtaking Evans to take P3 and then dispatching of Fenestraz to take control and lead the Rome E-Prix.
Fenestraz continued to falter, with Evans sweeping through on lap 16 and Cassidy following a few laps later to snatch the final podium positions. Dennis took his attack mode after building a sizable gap, managing to maintain the lead. Dennis and Cassidy began to exchange fastest laps – until Evans joined the fray setting the fastest lap on Lap 19. Evans and Dennis managed to pull a lead from Cassidy in the final podium position. Evans missed his attack mode in the latter stages, and had to retake it again as Cassidy made his way up into P2. Two laps were added to the end of the race, as Gunther slipped past a struggling Dennis to take the final spot on the podium.
Evans won the Rome E-Prix ahead of Cassidy making it a Kiwi 1-2 with Gunther in P3 and a home podium for Maserati. Dennis held onto P4, Vergne in P5, Muller took P6 with Wehrlein in P7, dropping down to P9 due to a 5 second time penalty. Nato and Sergio Sette Camara took P7 and P8 respectfullywith Fenestraz rounding out the top ten.
With Cassidy’s P2 finish, he took the lead of the championship by 5 points ahead of Dennis in P2. Mitch Evans leapfrogged Wehrlein to go to P3 in the championship.
Round 14 started off with the championship leader Nick Cassidy starting P2 with his closest championship competitor Jake Dennis on pole. Dennis held off the lead from the Envision Driver while Norman Nato held P3. However, Bird looked impressive, slipping past the Nissan man to slot into the podium positions. Jake Hughes, missing from the previous round due to injury, and Ticktum both managed to have excellent starts, picking their way through the field. Title contender Mitch Evans managed to get up amongst the action to take P3 in the early stages. He began to battle with Cassidy, but the Envision man held off the Jaguar. However, a lap later, Evans tried to make a move that failed, sending him out of contention and damaged his car which brought out a safety car and caused collisions behind them including Hughes, Rast and Vergne having a broken wing, forcing them all into the pits.
After the drama, it was a clean restart with many drivers immediately going for attack mode. Evans returned to the pits to retire his car after his collision with Cassidy, a major blow to his championship hopes. Nato tried to overtake Dennis shortly after but he got some damage after this attempt. Dennis wf the leaders to take attack mode, keeping his lead as Bird moved up to P2. Antonio Felix Da Costa locked up and ended up going off the track, ruining any chances of points as Buemi began to climb the order to P4.
Nick Cassidy, Envision Racing, Jaguar I-TYPE 6.
Image Credit: Formula E Media
Dennis managed to hold onto the lead after pressure from Bird, as Di Grassi was forced to retire after contact with the barrier. Both Mahindras retired on lap 13 as Bird activated his attack mode, dropping down to P4. Dennis and Nato went for their attack mode in the final stages, both keeping their positions. Buemi moved down to P6 as he took attack mode and both Maseratis took attack mode, retaining their positions which disrupted Buemi’s progress.
Cassidy never managed to get back onto solid ground after his incident with Evans, circulating near the back of the field, he was collected by Lotterer in the dying stages, a blow to his championship hopes. It was a quiet end to the race, as the pole sitter Jake Dennis claimed victory, ahead of Nato and Bird clinging on for a crucial P3. Mortara claimed P4 ahead of Buemi and previous podium winner Gunther. Wehrlein hung on for P7 ahead of Vandoorne and Ticktum, with Muller taking the final point.
Jake Dennis managed to extend his championship lead up to 24 points from Nick Cassidy in P2. Mitch Evans is 20 points behind his rumoured teammate in P3 and Pascal Wehrlein is arguably out of the title race.
What did you think of these last 2 races? Do you think Dennis can clinch the title in London or can someone mount a comeback?