Mitch Evans takes Jaguar debut win at extended Rome E–Prix
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Mitch Evans had come close to a win here last year, leading much of the race only to run out of energy at the end after a long battle with Andre Lotterer. In a redemptive repeat of history, Evans had pole snatched from him by Lotterer in mixed conditions earlier today and then managed to overtake the DS Techeetah and retain the lead, eventually gaining an energy advantage that Lotterer couldn't reply to.
The race, originally slated to run to 45 minutes starting from 16:05, was abruptly halted just under 3 minutes in when a second-lap pile-up caused the track to be totally blocked, Jose-Maria Lopez having jackknifed into a barrier, leaving Gary Paffett trapped between his rear and Jean-Eric Vergne's front wing, helplessly suspended across the track.
Lopez' second collision proved a stroke of luck for the car he earlier hit, Sam Bird, who was able to limp back to the pits under the red flag and whose mechanics pulled a near-impossible-seeming drive shaft replacement on a live car in sixteen and a half minutes of stoppage.
The race restarted 45 minutes - or its whole expected duration - later, becoming one of, if not Formula E's single longest race ever. The long stoppage allowed enough cars to repair that somehow, despite eight vehicles being involved in the red flag incident and three front wings having fallen casualty to just the first lap, only Paffett was forced to totally retire.
After the extended break, racing continued without another incident. Despite multiple investigations, all enquiries for contact were on laps prior to the stoppage and only one short Full Course Yellow period (due to Felipe Massa stopping on track for a technical fault) delayed the racing further.
Evans and Lotterer played a masterful strategic game with Attack Mode, seeing the feature pushed to its competitive limits on-track and the race go down to energy management, rather than punitive attrition as some this season have been criticised for.
Evans made a pushy move on Lotterer into the hairpin, securing the lead and retaining it despite exchanging Attack Mode periods, including a missed activation that saw Evans lose the time to go off line but not receive the energy reward.
Ultimately Lotterer was left with less energy than the Jaguar driver, who was able to control the final laps of the race. They peeled apart from close racing on the penultimate lap, when it became clear Lotterer would need to manage carefully in order to cross the line - similarly to Evans' position last year.
Evans becomes Jaguar's first race-winning driver since 1992 and the seventh winner in seven races of Formula E's Gen2.