Formula E: Dennis sweeps Sunday race in Rome, championship contenders Evans & Cassidy crash each other out
Jake Dennis has won the Sunday Formula E race in Rome. Starting from position 1 on the grid, the Andretti driver led every lap, set the fastest lap and put himself in a very good position for the title fight by taking the victory. This was also because his main rivals - Mitch Evans and Nick Cassidy - took each other out of the race in the early stages and came away empty-handed. The podium was completed by a sensational Norman Nato (Nissan) as well as Sam Bird for Jaguar.
Pole-sitter Dennis got a good start and closed the inside line off against Cassidy early. Behind it, too, everything initially remained the same. Before turn 8, however, Norman Nato surprisingly started to attack against Cassidy and took second place. Just one lap later, the world championship leader countered in turn 4. Nato lost momentum in the process and also had to let Mitch Evans pass, who was thus consequently third.
Then, on lap 2, Evans lost control while braking before turn 7, slid into the rear of his title rival Cassidy and spectacularly mounted the left rear wheel of his compatriot! The Jaguar landed on top of the Envision car. Both cars initially came to a halt with damage, but were able to save themselves to the pits. Behind them, the concertina effect caused some rear-end collisions, including for both McLaren, Jean-Eric Vergne and Pascal Wehrlein. The safety car came onto the track.
OH NO!!!!! ?- ABB FIA Formula E World Championship (@FIAFormulaE) July 16, 2023
Mitch Evans goes into the back of Nick Cassidy and ends up ON TOP of the Envision Racing driver!
Both drivers escape unhurt - thank goodness for the halo!@Hankook_Sport #RomeEPrix pic.twitter.com/NnvJdmf1l4
After a brief interruption, the race continued. The order of the top 5 on lap 4: Dennis, Nato, Bird, Ticktum and Mortara. Wehrlein had moved up to eighth despite the contact. Cassidy continued in 17th position, while Evans ended the race for good after a failed repair attempt. A serious setback in the world championship battle for Saturday's winner, but equally for the blameless Cassidy. Dennis, on the other hand, was now in a good position in his mission to chase the title.
Bird makes chase for Dennis
On Lap 6, Nato's front end touched Dennis' left rear wheel in a high-spirited move. In the process, the Nissan driver damaged his front wing, which hung down loosely from then on but would hold until the end of the race. Nato picked up his first attack mode a little later and fell behind Bird as a result. Antonio Felix da Costa outbraked himself in turn 7 and had to turn around in the run-off zone. As a result, the Porsche driver slipped to 15th place. Sebastien Buemi took fifth from Ticktum with a good maneuver.
Bird was now putting pressure on the leader Dennis and attacked several times. However, the Andretti driver defended well and saved energy whereever possible. Bird was already among the drivers with the most remaining energy in the field: the Jaguar driver had already saved two percent more energy than Dennis by lap 12/24. Then there was a crash further back in the field: Lucas di Grassi hit the wall and had to park his Mahindra with damage to the right front wheel. Felix da Costa had pushed him sideways into the TecPro barrier at turn 7.
Bird got his first attack mode late and dropped to fourth behind Buemi. One lap later, Dennis and Nato responded and drove through the attack zone in their turn. Both (!) came back onto the track ahead of Bird. Behind the trio, which was still close together, followed Buemi, Edo Mortara and Max Günther. Then Buemi also went for his attack mode and fell behind the two Maseratis, which, however, also activated their additional power one lap later. Mortara ultimately managed to stay ahead of Buemi, however.
Quiet final phase, Nato hangs on to second
In the next few minutes, the race calmed down, with hardly any situations worth mentioning. Roberto Merhi retired for a reason initially unknown. Dennis drove unchallenged at the front ahead of Nato and Bird. Wehrlein was seventh on lap 21, Cassidy 13th. The New Zealander complained that Hughes had slid into his rear, but this could not be seen on TV. Andretti told his top driver that there would be no race extension despite the safety car phase and that he could therefore fight for the fastest race lap without hesitation - which he succeeded to do in the end.
Nato defended like a lion, even though his Nissan was using significantly more energy than Bird's Jaguar behind him. He would actually finish second - with 0.0 percent usable energy remaining. A little further ahead, Dennis secured his second win of the season - the first since the season opener in Mexico - and took an important step towards the world championship title! Bird finished third ahead of Mortara, Buemi, Günther and Wehrlein. On the final lap, Cassidy pushed Andre Lotterer into the track barrier, destroying the German's front end. Sergio Sette Camara also dropped out shortly before the end.
In the Formula E drivers' standings, Dennis has taken the lead and is 24 points clear of second-placed Cassidy ahead of his two home races in London, which ttraditionally has always been a good venue for him. Evans follows another 20 points behind, with Wehrlein another five points behind. Evans and Wehrlein therefore only have a small chance of still winning the world championship. Among the teams, Envision extended its lead over Porsche to 14 points. Nissan made up 18 points on McLaren, but remained eighth.
The next Formula E race - the final "double-header" of the 2023 season - takes place in two weeks. On July 29 and 30, the electric series will make a guest appearance in London.