10 Apr 21
- FAN ZONE
06 Apr 21
After two thrilling opening rounds in Diriyah, the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship returns to Rome for Rounds 3 and 4 on April 10-11. With another gladiatorial battle on the horizon, here is the pick of who to keep an eye on from the 24 drivers prepared to conquer the historic Roman streets.
There have only been two races in the Italian capital, but the Palazzo della Civilta - more commonly known as the 'Square Colosseum' - which dominates the backdrop of the EUR district - has already been witness to some memorable gladiatorial racing moments more befitting of its circular cousin across town.
Traditionally, Rome has been a hard and fast track that favours the bold. As pointed out by Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler man and former champion Lucas di Grassi, there is the potential for even more passing opportunities with the new revised layout for 2021.
Below we've rounded up the usual suspects, those drivers who are unafraid to go for that tiniest of gaps or willing to crunch carbon to make a race-winning pass.
In the hands of Mitch Evans, Jaguar Racing have some competitive credentials around Rome. However, the Italian streets have been bittersweet for the British marque. In the inaugural Rome E-Prix, the Kiwi driver was fighting hard with Sam Bird and Lucas di Grassi for the win.
It was Bird, with Envision Virgin Racing, who etched his name in the history books and became Formula E's first winner in Rome. Evans himself was unable to maintain his momentum entering the last lap, and a fast-charging Andre Lotterer didn’t need asking twice.
Evans would get his redemption the following season, scoring an emotional win for both driver and manufacturer with a fairytale and albeit robust pass after duelling with Lotterer over the full 45 minutes plus one lap.
Bird scored his first victory with Jaguar Racing after only two races since joining the squad for Season 7 stole the narrative in Diriyah. The all-British partnership has immediately gelled, allowing Bird to extend his accolade of being the only driver to win a race in every season of Formula E.
With their joint success in Rome, Bird and Jaguar look to be a formidable combination for the Italian double-header.
The Dutchman missed qualifying in the second race, and despite starting from the back of the grid, he charged through the field to score some vital points and keep a grasp on the championship lead. Overall, Mercedes-EQ looks ominous this season and will be a good pick for any Predictor line-up.
The last Super Pole session in Rome was full of excitement thanks to a brief rain shower followed by a rapidly drying track.
Andre Lotterer (TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team) was the last driver to set a time, and the German made the most of the improving conditions to claim his first-ever Julius Baer Pole Position - this was despite running too deep into the hairpin and seemingly returning the pole chances to Evans.
Lotterer is yet to win in Formula E, and this track is well-suited to his combative, elbows-out style. Peering back and seeing him in the mirrors, you cannot help but think of that theme music from Jaws.
Much like an attack from the eponymous shark in the Steven Spielberg classic, if Lotterer spots a slight gap, there is a high probability that he'll squeeze that black and white Porsche 99X Electric into it.
In his rookie season in 2018/19, Stoffel Vandoorne continued his impressive qualifying form in Rome, holding on to the top of the timesheets after setting his pole time in damper conditions. He ultimately ended up in fourth but would take a maiden rostrum finish with third position later that day.
The Belgian has come a long way since his rookie campaign, including his commanding debut win at the end of the last season for Mercedes-EQ. With less than a handful of points from the opening races in Diriyah, this could work in Vandoorne's favour as he will be in one of the final qualifying groups to go out.
Maximilian Guenther was in and out of the DRAGON seat in 2018/19, Rome would become one of the young German's displays of blistering qualifying pace, getting the American-run outfit into Super Pole. Now with BMW i Andretti Motorsport, the mercurial racer has yet to get any points on the board this year but like Vandoorne, he could benefit from a more bedded-in surface.
The lap record around the old Rome layout currently belongs to one Jean-Eric Vergne and DS TECHEETAH. He was denied the fastest lap point after being relegated from a seventh-place finish following a time penalty. That extra point went to the next quickest driver: Sebastien Buemi.
JEV is another one of those drivers who is willing to fight his way to the front, no matter the cost. With a brand-spanking-new DS powertrain coming in Rome, Vergne and reigning champion Antonio Felix da Costa will both be strong picks - if they can stop squabbling on the track that is.
With Vergne dropping out of the top 10, the next fastest driver during the race was Nissan e.dams' Sebastien Buemi. The Swiss driver claimed the fastest lap bonus point on his way to a fifth-place finish and was the only other driver to dip into a 1:31s lap around the Circuito Cittadino dell’EUR.
In both of Formula E's visits to Rome, Andre Lotterer has featured right up the order in the timesheets, as mentioned it is a track that suits the German. The Porsche man is yet to claim that elusive first Formula E victory, but Rome is the place for redemption.
Frijns stormed to the Julius Baer Pole Position in the second Diriyah race and was battling for the lead with former team-mate Sam Bird, ultimately ending the race in second. With that wild style, expect the Dutchman to fly around the Rome circuit, both figuratively and literally (handily demonstrated below).
Lucas di Grassi is a veteran of all-electric street racing, sometimes he qualifies down the order, but the Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler driver is a hard charger and always finds his way through the pack.
The 2016/17 champion has form in Rome as the Brazilian was in a three-way tussle for the victory in 2018 and took second on the podium.
Sergio Sette Camara and DRAGON / PENSKE AUTOSPORT impressed in the second race in Diriyah. Despite an aging powertrain under the hood, the Brazilian dazzled in Qualifying to get through to Super Pole, claiming a front-row start and then going on to score some solid points in the race.
Could Sette Camara bring the all-American squad back to the podium?
10 Apr 21
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