Stoffel Vandoorne finished third in the fourth round of the 2021/22 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship at the Rome E-Prix, but teammate Nyck de Vries was unfortunately forced to retire.
Just beating Robin Frijns by three and a half tenths of a second, Vandoorne claimed pole position, making it the seventh pole of his Formula E career and his second of the season. Meanwhile his teammate qualified fourth in his group, getting through to the semi-finals where he lost out to Robin Frijns by a tenth of a second, starting the race on the second row of the grid in third.
Having managed to maintain their positions at the start, the race was soon neutralised by a safety car period, with 5:15 minutes subsequently added to the E-Prix, meaning the drivers had to take more care with their energy management in the final stages of the race.
The 27-lap race was filled with plenty of excitement and action on the track as the drivers battled it out for a podium position, with Vandoorne managing to cross the finish line third behind Mitch Evans and Robin Frijns, securing his ninth Formula E podium.
Although de Vries was in the leading group during the first half of the race, he dropped down the field as the race wore on and was forced to retire after contact with another car just before the end of the race.
In the Drivers’ World Championship, Edoardo Mortara leads with 49 points, three points ahead of Stoffel Vadoorne on 46 points, while Nyck de Vried is fifth on 38 points. The Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team leads the team championship with 84 points, ahead of Venturi Racing who have 74 points.
Stoffel Vandoorne commented after the race, saying:
“That was a tough fight from start to finish. A really tough race today. Getting strategy right was tricky. We were a bit down on pace, especially compared to Mitch Evans – he got past and then just pulled away. I really enjoyed the fight with Robin Frijns. It was all about choosing the right strategy for Attack Mode, overtaking one another over and over again and setting up manoeuvres. It was a terrific fight, for sure. All in all, I’m pleased with my podium. On a difficult day like today, it’s a good result.”
With Nyck de Vries summing up his race by saying:
“We tried to hang in there and keep up with the race leaders, but the truth is, we didn’t have the pace today. Everything went okay initially as regards to the start, my position in the field and the restart, but after that, pace was needed to do anything meaningful, and unfortunately, we were off the pace today. You use more energy and tyres overheat when you’re down on pace, resulting in an ever downward spiral. Things are fine until the middle of the race, but then everyone behind you begins to pile on the pressure and they overtake. When that happens, you don’t have the cushion needed to be able to activate Attack Mode and you’re completely on the backfoot, which is exactly what happened to me today. We weren’t fast enough. I tried, but it was no good. I made a move to overtake Pascal in Turn 7 towards the end, but he shut the door and there was a contact on the approach to the turn. My steering got bent as I made contact with him and the wall and I was forced to retire.”
In the fifth round earlier today, Vandoorne finished fifth, adding some valuable points towards the championship, while teammate de Vries dropped out of the points following a late penalty.
The cars and drivers now head to Monaco for the sixth round of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championships on 30th April.
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man Behind The Wheel, a member of The Guild of Motoring Writers, professional photographer and former saloon car racing driver.
Photographs courtesy of Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team by LAT Images
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