until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula E

From pole to a wrecked car – Vandoorne’s miserable Rome race

by Sam Smith
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Rome Formula E poleman Stoffel Vandoorne deemed Andre Lotterer’s ill-fated move for the lead on the first racing lap an “unnecessary risk”.

The collision was the first blow for Vandoorne in a race that ended with a wrecked car from a freak late crash.

Mercedes driver Vandoorne had a slender advantage over the Porsche driver when the two collided at Turn 7 as Lotterer attempted a late move to the inside which pushed Vandoorne into the escape road and down to 13th position.

“It was a little bit of an unnecessary risk from Lotterer to do the overtake at Turn 7, especially as the track conditions were still very slippery at the start and damp,” said Vandoorne.

“The race was compromised from lap one and we dropped back to 13th, but actually from then on we had a blinding race actually, and managed to overtake a lot of cars, with a good strategy with the attack mode.”

Lotterer described the move, for which he received a five second time penalty, as ‘an opportunity.”

“I was just behind Vandoorne, he was breaking quite early so I saw an opportunity to pass in T7,” said the Porsche driver, who was classified 16th after the penalty.

“When I was inside, he just turned on me and we had contact.

“Sad, it was a lost opportunity, as the car was quick so I would have had the chance to win. It is frustrating, but we have to focus on tomorrow.”

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Mercedes’ reserve Gary Paffett felt Lotterer’s move had been “pretty optimistic” in the drizzly conditions.

“I don’t think he expected Andre to be doing it that early in the race especially with the conditions as they were,” said Paffett of Vandoorne.

“I think it was pretty ambitious, and it was a pretty late move. Stoffel went to close the door and it was a bit, maybe half hearted, but I think both of them were.

“Bit of a racing incident really on a street circuit, it’s the sort of thing you see quite a lot in Formula E so certainly not the most disappointing thing.

“But the end [of the race] was horrible.”

Vandoorne was sixth on the tail of team-mate Nyck de Vries with five minutes and a lap of the race to go.

He then made a move to take fifth just before he was forced to go off line at the flat-out Turn 6 kink to take avoiding action around the slowing Audi of erstwhile race leader Lucas di Grassi.

Vandoorne was forced to run over a crown in the road which houses a manhole cover and his car lost adhesion, spinning and collecting de Vries before he hit the wall.

“There was di Grassi at some point who had a sudden slowdown in Turn 6, which is one of the quickest – or is the quickest – corner on the circuit,” rued Vandoorne.

“We had to take an avoiding action and the car basically hit a bump and took off and I was just a passenger in the car, so a big crash.

“Luckily, I’m alright but the car is obviously damaged quite a lot.”

Both of the Mercedes cars had to have their batteries checked after a G-sensor light was activated in the incident.

De Vries’ car was passed fit, while Vandoorne’s is undergoing checks to see if a new RESS unit is needed for tomorrow’s action.

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