Formula E

Vandoorne takes top spot in epic Round 4 battle

Stoffel Vandoorne (Mercedes EQ) made up for a disappointing finish to Round 3 by claiming the top spot in another turbulent race on the streets of Rome.

The drama from yesterday spilled into the second round of racing in Rome with a number of spins and collisions throughout the day culminating in an incredible final lap shootout.

The frantic final lap, which was a great advert for Formula E, saw Brit’s Sam Bird (Jaguar Racing) and Oliver Rowland (Nissan E.Dams) both crashing out along with Mercedes’ Nick de Vries.

The rest of the top three was made up of Alex Sims (Mahindra Racing) and Pascal Wehrlein (Tag Heuer Porsche Formula E Team), who took the place of Norman Nato (Rokit Venturi Racing) who had crossed the line in third but was disqualified for an overuse of power.

From start to finish

Although the track seemed slightly drier than yesterday, patches of water across the circuit meant the action began behind the Safety Car once again.

As soon as the green flag was waved, however, it was non-stop action from the off as Nick Cassidy spun out on one of the opening corners to give up his first ever pole position.

It was a sign of things to come as Cassidy became aggressive in his attempt to recapture top spot, but his race was drawn to a premature finish when Rowland shut the door on Cassidy’s maneuvers, forcing him into the barriers and ultimately causing him to retire from the race.

Rowland stayed at the heart of the action when he fired himself into fourth, coming together with Nato in a bid to jump into one of the podium places.

Vandoorne began his ascent to the top of the grid as he jostled with Pascal Wehrlein, who was enjoying one of his best drives to date.

One of the biggest incidents of the race took place soon after, as Lucas Di Grassi (Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler) came together with Nissan’s Sebastien Buemi, who hit the back of Di Grassi in an effort to overtake.

The collision brought on a full course yellow for a few minutes but as soon as the race restarted, Alex Sim’s saw his opportunity and caught Werhlein napping to nip in and claim second spot.

Although Vandoorne began to peel away in first, it was Antonio Felix Da Costa (DS TECHEETAH) that was receiving the most plaudits, as a mix of aggressive driving and subtle maneuvering saw him climb into a point-scoring 7th place, having started in 15th.

Grid positions continued to swap as the race entered the final ten minutes, with Norman Nato climbing into third and Oliver Rowland slumping down the table following a ten-second penalty for his incident with Cassidy earlier on.

A solid race for Audi’s René Rast came to an abrupt end when he clipped the wall on a corner which spun him into the barrier, subsequently calling the Safety Car out yet again.

With only a few minutes remaining, it looked as though Round 4 would follow a similar pattern to Round 3, but as the Safety Car pulled in, a scintillating final lap shootout began.

With the gaps closing as a result of the Safety Car, Alex Sims sensed his chance to take first place but Vandoorne made the most of his FanBoost and kept the Brit’s advances at bay.

The real action unfolded behind the leading pack, however, as Bird, de Vries and Rowland came together in dramatic fashion, bringing an end to all of their races.

With almost all of the remaining drivers running extremely low on power, Vandoorne held his nerve and crossed the line in first, followed swiftly by Sims and then Nato, who had looked as if he had managed to get over the line with just 0.1% power remaining, but was disqualified after the race, pushing Wehrlein into third place.

Despite failing to finish, Jaguar’s Sam Bird remains top of the Drivers’ table ahead of Frijns and Vandoorne.

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