There couldn’t have been a better debut for the new DS E-TENSE FE21, as Jean-Éric Vergne took it to the highest step of the podium in its first-ever race in Rome today.
It was a very closely fought E-Prix on the revamped and extended Roman track, now stretching 3.385 km long and it was made treacherous by the light rain that damped the track throughout the day.
Earlier in the morning, the practice sessions brought their share of emotions, as Jean-Éric was hit at the back by another car, missing the entire Free Practice 2 session due to the crash. The team did a great job in repairing the car, allowing the Frenchman to perform a troubleless Qualifying and make the cut to Super Pole, where he secured 5th spot on the grid for the race start. Da Costa had a more difficult Qualifying session starting from Group 1 and touching the wall, leaving him to start from P18.
The race started behind the safety car as the rain re-appeared, but Vergne mastered the events, always staying in the top 5 and wisely using his ATTACK MODES to exchange positions with the leading cars in a masterful way.
The race ended as it started, behind the safety car, with JEV signing his 10th win in Formula E and the 13th for DS TECHEETAH. António Félix Da Costa did an excellent recovery, climbing positions through the field up to P10, but after using his FANBOOST for a beautiful overtake, he suffered a puncture and was forced to pit for the remainder of the race.
The Rome E-Prix will continue on the streets of the EUR district tomorrow for Round 4 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.
Jean-Éric Vergne, Rome E-Prix winner:
“I am very happy as it was a really difficult race due to the rain. It meant flirting with the walls through the entire race, but we survived until the end! I had a great fight with Lucas [Di Grassi] and it is sad he got into trouble at the end, but this is racing. Clearly, it is pretty nice to win the first race with a new car. It is always difficult to describe the feeling but it proves that the car is quick, and it tells you what a great job the entire DS TECHEETAH team have done with it.”
António Félix da Costa, #DNF:
“Today wasn’t the day I wanted, unfortunately; it’s just been one of those days when you feel like you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time constantly. But the good news is that we have another day tomorrow and overall, we have had a good start with the new powertrain. It is our first race with it and JEV won so know we know we have a quick package and there is everything left to play for tomorrow and the rest of the season.”
Mark Preston, DS TECHEETAH Team Principal:
“What a way to introduce our new powertrain to the world. Absolutely incredible job from DS Automobiles who have given us yet another astonishing powertrain. I also want to thank our whole team for their efforts in re-building JEV’s car after FP1 today. Everyone really came together, and we managed to get him back out there in time for qualifying where he delivered.
“JEV showed us why he is a double champion today. He has this incredible ability to bounce back and get ahead when it matters, just like he did today.
“Antonio had some bad luck today getting a puncture just after he managed to do a great overtake with his FANBOOST, but that is racing, and tomorrow he has got a really good chance of a win or a podium as he will start in Group 2”.
Xavier Mestelan Pinon, DS Performance Director:
“First race with the new powertrain developed by DS Performance and first victory! We couldn’t have a more convincing debut! I am disappointed for António but so happy for JEV. The King is back! He deserved this win after the spectacular crash in free practice, where he was completely faultless. He’s made a great recovery, and let’s see what will happen tomorrow. Antonio will start in a very good position and will have the chance for a good result, and we expect JEV to be among the front-runners too.”