Bird flies to Rome E-Prix win

April 14, 2018

Bird flies to Rome E-Prix win

April 14, 2018

Sam Bird has captured the seventh round of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, with a win in Saturday’s Rome E-Prix.

It’s the DS Virgin Racing driver’s second win of season four (Round 1, Hong Kong) and came after starting second in the No. 2 car.

The Englishman looked to be playing second fiddle to Mahindra’s Felix Rosenqvist. The Swede started on the pole in the 33-lap race, and led 19 of the first 21 laps. That was only interrupted during the pit cycle.

However, Rosenqvist took another tough hit when he hit a curb, and was forced to retire on Lap 23. Like at Mexico City earlier this year, this is a result that will be tough for both Rosenqvist and the Mahindra team to swallow.

Bird inherited the lead on Lap 22 and held it for the remainder of the race, and beat Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler’s Lucas di Grassi by just 0.970 of a second.

Di Grassi, like at the series’ most recent race in Punta del Este, Uruguay, came up just shy of his first win of the season.

The Brazilian driver now sits eighth in points after a very tough start to the season.

A Techeetah driver completed the podium, but it wasn’t series points leader Jean-Eric Vergne. Instead, Andre Lotterer capitalized to finish third for his second podium of the year.

Vergne kept his streak of finishing in the top five in every race this season alive, finishing fifth behind Audi Sport’s Daniel Abt in fourth.

With this result, Vergne still leads the championship, but only by 18 points over Bird (119-101). Rosenqvist falls to third, and now 31 points back. Techeetah lead DS Virgin by 34 points (152-118) in the team championship.

The track’s hairpin was the scene of the race’s biggest incident. Contact between Jose Maria Lopez (Dragon), Oliver Turvey (NIO) and Nick Heidfeld (Mahindra) blocked the track after Venturi’s Maro Engel snuck through on the inside.

But with those first three drivers stalled out, both Luca Filippi (NIO) and Edo Mortara (Venturi) had nowhere to go and crashed into the back of Turvey.

The series has a week off before the eighth round of the season, in Paris in two weeks’ time. Saturday’s Rome E-Prix will air delayed on FOX Sports networks on Sunday, April 15. Qualifying will be at 10:30 a.m. ET on FS2, with the race at 11:30 a.m. ET on FS1.

Rome’s debut, though, proved a major success for Michelin.

“The Rome E-Prix turned out to be an exceptional event, both on and off the track,” said Sege Grisin, manager of Michelin’s Formula E program.

“The work of the championship’s organizers in close collaboration with the local authorities paid off handsomely. The circuit, which was very fast in places, provided numerous overtaking opportunities, while the MICHELIN Pilot Sport EV2 performed faultlessly and made a real contribution to the action, including at the very end of the race which was particularly entertaining at the front of the field”.

A couple other Formula E notes from the last week are below:

PRE-RACE PAPAL BLESSING

Before the Rome E-Prix, the series had an opportunity to meet with His Holiness Pope Francis, for a pre-race event.

Alongside Founder & CEO of Formula E Alejandro Agag – as well as ACI President Angelo Sticchi Damiani – the drivers, team representatives and the official championship car were given a private Apostolic Blessing before attending the papal audience.

More than half the grid and one of the series’ cars made the trip to Vatican City.

ROSBERG TO TEST IN BERLIN 

The 2016 Formula 1 World Champion Nico Rosberg will make his return to a race car with a show run in Formula E’s new Gen2 car. More info on that is below.

FELIPE, BABY IN ATTENDANCE

Former Formula 1 driver Felipe Massa was in attendance at this weekend’s race, too. Might the Brazilian start driving in Formula E in future seasons?

 

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