Formula E: Evans wins thrilling opening race in Rome double-header

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Jaguar’s Mitch Evans took a sensational victory in the first race of this weekend’s Rome double-header with Nick Cassidy and Maximilian Guenther completing the podium. F1Technical’s senior writer Balázs Szabó reports from the Rome EUR circuit.

With only four races left in the 2022/2023 FIA Formula E season , the double header Hankook Rome E-Prix, the penultimate stage of the Championship, was expected to be a turning point of the title campaign as multiple drivers were still in the hunt for the Season 9 title.

Qualifying reports

The qualifying session saw Jaguar secure a dominant one-two for this weekend’s opening Rome E-Prix with Mitch Evans heading his team-mate Sam Bird.

Qualifying was interrupted due to a huge crash from Jake Hughes, who lost control of his McLaren on the high-speed run through Turn 6 over a bump. The Briton made multiple contacts with the barriers on both sides of the circuit with the incident forcing the Race Director Scott Elkins to red-flag the second part of the qualifying session.

Nissan’s Sacha Fenestraz finished third with Envision Virgin’s Sebastien Buemi completing the second row on the grid.

Championship leader Jake Dennis qualified seventh with his closest rivals Nyck Cassidy and Pascal Wehrlein securing P9 and P10 for Round 13 of the 2022/2023 FIA Formula E Championship.

Just ahead of the 25-lap race, McLaren announced that Hughes will not be able to take part in the race due to the damage his car sustained during his heavy crash.

Race reports

The start saw the Jaguar duo Bird and Evans battle it out hard as the pair approached the first corner. Bird managed to get the jump on Evans, who then launched multiple attacks for the lead. However, the Briton was able to fend off the attempts and led the first laps.

On Lap 3, Andre Lotterer lost control of his Avalanche Andretti and made heavy contact with the wall between Turns 6 and 7. The incident forced the race director to deploy the safety car.

The Italian track marshals were extremely quick, clearing the track within two laps. Right after the restart, Evans went by Bird, who also lost a position a lap later. The New Zealander became the first driver to drive through the attack zone which cost him the lead.

Despite leading the race early on, Bird’s race turned into a nightmare as the Briton lost the rear of his Jaguar coming out of Turn 6. With the incident happening in a fast section, several drivers were unable to react in time and collected Bird's Jaguar with Sebastien Buemi, Felix da Costa and Lucas di Grassi all involved in the crash.

The incident forced the Race Direction to suspend the race to give marshals time to clear the track for the remaining 16 laps. Following the lengthy red flag period, the order was as follows: Fenestraz, Evans, Rast, Dennis, Cassidy, Guenther, Ticktum, Mueller, Sette Camara, Merhi, Vergne, Vandoorne and Nato.

Dennis appeared to have the upper hand at the restart as he was able to leapfrog McLaren’s Rene Rast, but Cassidy also followed suit three laps later.

Championship leader Dennis displayed an ambitious move to overtake Evans before he also leapfrogged Fenestraz for the lead. On Lap 17, the then race leader decided to activate his first power boost, and managed to do it without losing the lead to Evans.

With eight laps to go, both Dennis and Evans were yet to use their second attack mode, but the Briton opted for his second 50kW boost on the next lap. His decision saw him lose the lead to Evans.

The Kiwi also tried to activate his second power boost, but he missed one of the sensors as he went for his second and final additional energy mode. He then tried it again on the next lap, and he managed to touch the sensors both at the entry and the exit of the attack zone.

Although it looked like that Dennis could be set to control the final stages of the race, Evans managed to close in on his rival. In the meantime, the Race Direction decided to add two laps to the race distance because of the safety car intervention.

With four laps to go, Evans decided to overtake Dennis, who appeared to have problems with his energy management. The Avalanche Andretti driver also lost positions to Cassidy and Guenther.

In the closing stages of the race, Evans was controlling proceedings even if second-placed Cassidy was slightly reducing the gap. The Kiwi was able to snatch his third victory in Rome with Cassidy and Guenther rounding out the podium.

Dennis fell back by over 21 seconds behind race winner Evans, but he managed to take P4, fending off the attacks from Vergne and Mueller. Former championship runaway leader Pascal Wehrlein put his Porsche in P7 ahead of Norman Nato with Sergio Sette Camara and Sacha Fenestraz rounding out the point-scoring top ten.