Formula E Rome: Bird wins as Rosenqvist retires after hitting curb

Virgin Racing's Sam Bird won the inaugural Formula E race in Rome ahead of Audi driver Lucas di Grassi, as long-time leader Felix Rosenqvist retired after hitting a kerb

Formula E Rome: Bird wins as Rosenqvist retires after hitting curb

Andre Lotterer completed the podium, with his team-mate - championship leader Jean-Eric Vergne - finishing fifth despite sustaining damage on the opening lap.

At the start, polesitter Rosenqvist led away ahead of Bird and Jaguar driver Mitch Evans. While Vergne survived being hit from behind by Alex Lynn.

Rosenqvist edged away from Bird early-on, with Evans and Lotterer falling behind as they opted to save energy and run a lap longer in the opening stint.

Bird closed back in on Rosenqvist before they both pitted on lap 16 of 33. Rosenqvist maintained the net lead of the race as Evans, Lotterer, Daniel Abt and di Grassi stayed out for an extra lap.

As those four returned to the track, the race was neutralised with a full course yellow following Lynn, who stopped at Turn 10, and a four-way incident at the Turn 13 hairpin involving Oliver Turvey, Nick Heidfeld, Luca Filippi and Edoardo Mortara.

Bird closed in on Rosenqvist when the race resumed, with Evans five seconds back and engaged in a scrap with Sebastien Buemi, as further back di Grassi passed Lotterer.

Evans had just deposed Buemi for third when Rosenqvist suddenly slowed and stopped just past the finish line after he clipped the kerb at the Turn 18/19 chicane, which appeared to break his left-rear suspension.

Bird enjoyed a lead of 3.2s over Evans - with di Grassi fighting his way past Buemi for third shortly before a second FCY was deployed to allow Rosenqvist's car to be recovered.

After the restart, Evans used his energy advantage to close in and attack Bird, with di Grassi in close company and Lotterer making it a four-way fight for the lead after passing Buemi.

Evans attacked Bird the bumpy uphill Turn 9 on lap 29, but the Briton defended the inside and Evans lost momentum.

Bird then enjoyed some crucial breathing space in the final laps as di Grassi pressured Evans and passed him at Turn 9 on two laps to go.

Lotterer also got by on the final lap by going around the outside of Evans at Turn 10.

Di Grassi charged up to Bird but could not get by and the Virgin Racing driver held on to win by 0.970s. But di Grassi finished the race facing an investigation for his car swap procedure.

Evans could not make his energy last and he tumbled to ninth at the finish, with Abt fourth.

Vergne, who had scrapped with Abt and Buemi in the second half of the race, finished fifth after passing the Renault e.dams driver late on.

Jerome D'Ambrosio rose from 18th on the grid to take seventh, ahead of Maro Engel, with Mortara rounding out the top 10. Nelson Piquet was the only other retirement after stopping in the pitlane after changing cars.

Race result:

Pos Driver Team Car Laps Gap
1 Sam Bird Virgin DS Virgin 33 58m20.656s
2 Lucas di Grassi Audi Audi 33 0.970s
3 Andre Lotterer Techeetah Renault 33 9.518s
4 Daniel Abt Audi Audi 33 10.167s
5 Jean-Eric Vergne Techeetah Renault 33 17.444s
6 Sebastien Buemi e.dams Renault 33 19.835s
7 Jerome d'Ambrosio Dragon Penske 33 24.379s
8 Maro Engel Venturi Venturi 33 26.350s
9 Mitch Evans Jaguar Jaguar 33 37.709s
10 Edoardo Mortara Venturi Venturi 33 40.739s
11 Antonio Felix da Costa Andretti Andretti 33 42.680s
12 Oliver Turvey NIO NextEV NIO 33 48.833s
13 Luca Filippi NIO NextEV NIO 33 49.331s
14 Nicolas Prost e.dams Renault 33 1m13.880s
15 Tom Blomqvist Andretti Andretti 33 1m31.832s
16 Nick Heidfeld Mahindra Mahindra 33 1m44.774s
17 Jose Maria Lopez Dragon Penske 29 4 Laps
- Felix Rosenqvist Mahindra Mahindra 22 Suspension
- Nelson Piquet Jr. Jaguar Jaguar 18 Retirement
- Alex Lynn Virgin DS Virgin 15 Retirement

Drivers' standings

Pos Driver Points
1 Jean-Eric Vergne 119
2 Sam Bird 101
3 Felix Rosenqvist 82
4 Sebastien Buemi 60
5 Daniel Abt 50
6 Nelson Piquet Jr. 45
7 Mitch Evans 43
8 Lucas di Grassi 39
9 Andre Lotterer 33
10 Oliver Turvey 32
11 Edoardo Mortara 29
12 Nick Heidfeld 21
13 Alex Lynn 17
14 Antonio Felix da Costa 16
15 Jose Maria Lopez 13
16 Jerome d'Ambrosio 12
17 Maro Engel 11
18 Nicolas Prost 7
19 Tom Blomqvist 4
20 Luca Filippi 1
21 Kamui Kobayashi 0
22 Neel Jani 0

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Series Formula E
Drivers Sam Bird , Felix Rosenqvist
Author Alex Kalinauckas
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