Mitch Evans climbed from fourth to first to complete a clean sweep of rounds four and five of the 2022 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship in Rome, as polesitter Jean Eric Vergne recovered to second place to take the championship lead.
Vergne led away from the start, but Jake Dennis, who had just missed out to Vergne in the final duel for pole position, found himself under attack from the Porsche of Andre Lotterer, who got past during his second attempt to overtake. This was followed by the Jaguar of Evans, who then quickly found a way past Lotterer to slot into second. Dennis would later retire his Andretti car due to accident damage after being hit by Lucas Di Grassi.
At the rear of the field, Alexander Sims crashed into the back of his former teammate Maximillian Guenther, putting the German driver out of the race on the spot, ending what had been a miserable and crash-laden weekend in Rome for the Nissan e.Dams driver.
Edoardo Mortara was battling Antonio Felix Da Costa for 8th, when the Venturi made a move up the inside into turn four and found himself being squeezed into the wall on the inside, before Mortara then suffered another impact with the wall at turn 19, causing suspected damage to the driveshaft which put the Swiss driver out on the spot and resulted in a post-race time penalty for Da Costa. Antonio Giovinazzi was also having a fruitless weekend in front of his home fans, as his Dragon Penske coasted to a halt and caused the first safety car period of the race.
At the restart, Evans relieved Vergne of the lead at turn four, but it was Frijns who was the first of the leaders to enter attack mode, followed a lap later by Lotterer who slotted in just behind Sam Bird’s Jaguar before dispatching of the British driver. Frijns and Lotterer quickly cleared first Vergne, then Evans, before battling for the lead, as with 10 minutes remaining on the clock, Lotterer was able to overcome Frijns to get into the lead at turn four just seconds before running out of Attack Mode.
Mahindra’s day went from bad to worse, as first Oliver Rowland and then Sims retired with damage, with Sims finding himself spinning into the run-off area at turn 14 and triggering a second deployment of the safety car. 5 minutes and fifteen seconds were added to the race time as a result of these delays.
Anticipating the time extension, Evans had saved his attack mode for the closing laps, emerging behind Vergne, Frijns and Lotterer. All three were powerless to stop the Jaguar driver from breezing around the outside of them, with Lotterer being the last to fall at turn 7.
Things then went wrong for Lotterer as first Vergne and then Frijns slipped by him, putting him off the podium and into the clutches of Mercedes Benz’ Stoffel Vandoorne.
Bird had done a great job defending for his teammate Evans, but whilst running 6th he defended heavily from a charging Nick Cassidy into turn 7, putting the Envision driver into the wall, and heavily damaging his own car, leading both to retire and bring out a third and final safety car in the dying minutes of the race. Lotterer was caught out at the Marconi hairpin when Frijns slowed for the safety car ahead of him, the two making minor contact allowing Vandoorne to slip past the German, much to his consternation.
The race resumed with just enough time for one final lap of racing. Vandoorne, cautious of receiving a penalty for overtaking under the safety car, moved aside to allow Lotterer back into fourth place, but up front Vergne could do nothing to stop Evans, who completed a double victory to launch himself into the top four in the driver’s championship, completing a very strong weekend for Jaguar.
Frijns scored a bonus point for setting the fastest lap and completed the podium from Lotterer and Vandoorne, with Pascal Wehrlein placing sixth in the other Porsche. With Da Costa being penalised for hitting Mortara, and Nyck De Vries also suffering a penalty for contact with Dragon Penske’s Sergio Sette Camara, it was Oliver Turvey who bought his NIO 333 home in a sensational seventh place to score his and the team’s first points of the season.
Lucas Di Grassi finished 8th for Venturi and Sebastien Buemi placed 9th for Nissan e.Dams, ahead of rookie Dan Ticktum, who was promoted into the final points paying position for the first time after Oliver Askew was penalised post-race for overtaking under the safety car.
Vergne now leads the driver’s championship on 60 points, two ahead of Frijns, whilst Vandoorne is a further two points back in third. Mitch Evans shoots up to 4th place on 51 points, two ahead of previous points leader Mortara. The team’s championship is now led by Mercedes Benz EQ on 94 points, 9 ahead of Porsche.
Round six takes place in Monaco on the 30th of April.