Subscribe

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe
Formula E Rome ePrix II

DS Penske through thick and thin

Jean-Éric Vergne finished a fine fifth after starting 16th on the grid in what was a difficult day for both the machines and the drivers in the sweltering heat.

Stoffel Vandoorne, DS Penske, DS E-Tense FE23

The air was already 30C when the electric single-seaters took to the track at precisely 8.10am on Saturday.

The first practice session, which took place the day before, saw six drivers from six teams occupy the top six places, with no clear pace leader emerging.

Jean-Éric Vergne, sixth and seven-tenths from the front, had, as usual, taken the time to rediscover the track. He knows the 3.385km, 19-turn circuit well, having taken pole position and second place in the second race of the weekend last season. But in 2022, the Rome E-Prix was held in April, and in weather that was easier to bear.

With over 40C on the ground, the second free practice session with the new Gen 3 electric single-seaters presented challenges that required a cautious approach.

In qualifying, cars powered by Jaguar and Nissan dominated, with Jaguar’s Mitch Evans and Sam Bird locking out the front row ahead of Nissan driver Sacha Fenestraz and Jaguar-powered Envision Racing’s Sebastien Buemi.

The first Porsche representative was Jake Dennis (Avalanche Andretti) in seventh, with the first works driver, Pascal Wehrlein, in 10th.

DS Penske driver Stoffel Vandoorne hit the wall on his fat lap and missed out on the quarter finals while Vergne, who was also unfortunate in qualifying and started from 16th.

Jean-Eric Vergne, DS Penske, DS E-Tense FE23

Jean-Eric Vergne, DS Penske, DS E-Tense FE23

Photo by: DPPI

Penske avoids Rome chaos

The Rome track alternates between undulating and flat sections, fast and slow, but it is also fairly narrow. This makes it difficult to overtake and can cause problems in the event of an accident.

This was highlighted in a dramatic fashion when Sam Bird bounced over a drain cover on the flat-out Turn Six and struck both walls before coming to a halt in the middle of the track.

Buemi, Edoardo Mortara, António Félix da Costa, Robin Frijns and Lucas di Grassi all joined Bird on the list of retirees after being caught up in the aftermath of the incident.

Both DS Penske cars managed to avoid the worst of the wreckage and were able to return to the pitlane as the race was red-flagged to enable the cleanup operation to take place with bodywork strewn across the Italian track.

At the restart, the three teams at the top of the constructors’ standings had all lost a car, and there were only 14 competitors left. There were still 17 laps to go of the original 25 (plus two added later to compensate for the safety car coming out) and anything was still possible.

The race had been stopped for almost an hour, but the temperature was still as high as ever.

The two DS Penske cars, which had started at the back of the field, went into attack mode on the same lap. Halfway through the race, Vergne had climbed to fifth.

Jean-Eric Vergne, DS Penske, DS E-Tense FE23

Jean-Eric Vergne, DS Penske, DS E-Tense FE23

Photo by: DPPI

Fenestraz was still in the lead, but he was consuming more energy than his pursuers and eventually had to drop back.

In the end, Evans scored a solid victory, ahead of Nick Cassidy and Max Günther. Vergne took a fine fifth place just behind Dennis.

It was one of the highlights of a rather crazy day, with the French driver gaining 11 positions in the race. Stoffel Vandoorne, caught in traffic, finished 11th, just behind Fenestraz, whose early pace had come with a heavy price.

With three races remaining in the season, and with the second round in Rome taking place on Sunday in similar conditions, five drivers can still claim the Drivers' title: Cassidy, Dennis, Evans, Wehrlein and Vergne.

Be part of the Autosport community

Join the conversation
Previous article Rome E-Prix: Dennis takes pole against title rival Cassidy
Next article Rome E-Prix: Dennis wins as Evans/Cassidy collide

Top Comments

There are no comments at the moment. Would you like to write one?

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe