Formula E is back in Europe for the seventh race of season five and will compete for the second time in Circuto Cittadino dell’EUR located in the heart of Rome. Ahead the upcoming Italian race, Esteban Garcia picks out five talking points to follow this weekend.
Candidates for a seventh different winner
Following Jean-Eric Vergne’s win in Sanya, the all-electric series is looking for another race winner in its fifth season with five different teams having won a race so far.
Among the possible race winners for the upcoming Rome E-Prix are Robin Frijns (Virgin Racing), who needs to improve his qualifying results, Andre Lotterer (DS Techeetah), who had led the Hong Kong E-Prix last month but contact with Sam Bird left him still searchinig for his maiden win. As his teammate, Jean-Eric Vergne had won a few weeks ago, the German in one of the fastest drivers in the field who can take the checkered flag on Saturday.
Daniel Abt (Audi) is also a race winner in Formula E, but has only scored a podium in season five at the Santiago E-Prix but is expected to challenge for the poidum in Rome. Both Nissan e.dams racers, Sebastien Buemi and Oliver Rowland, are still searching for win this season.
Lynn and Guenther are back
Alex Lynn will make a return this weekend with Jaguar Racing after Nelson Piquet Jr’s departure was announced a few weeks ago. The British driver, who raced for Virgin Racing last season, said he couldn’t let pass the chance to compete in the all-electric series again and will have some experience courtesy of a private test in the team’s Gen 2 car last week.
Maximilian Guenther will race once again for Dragon Racing after sitting out the last three races. The German driver will replace Felipe Nasr at the American squad due his commitments in IMSA, which is scheduled to compete this Saturday on the streets of Long Beach.
Red flag periods
Formula E has faced three red flag periods in the last races, which is unprecedented in the history of the series. After the latest interruption in Sanya, a ‘stop the clock’ protocol was discussed in order to stop the running time of the race instead of adding time to it. Currently, race time is not stopped when a red flag comes out.
The main goal is to minimise the impact on energy saving and to have new restart procedures for suspended races. It is believed that this concept will be voted on this week and will have an impact from Rome E-Prix onwards. In the Mexico City, Hong Kong and Sanya races, the track needed to be cleaned due to debris from collisions.
European tour begins
Having raced in three continents already, Formula E heads to Europe for the next five races, which will feature a special prize for the driver who can score the most points during this period starting in Rome.
The Rome circuit is 1.77-mile and features 21 turns. Oliver Turvey (NIO) says the track is “one of the longest and most challenging” and that the “atmosphere was fantastic last year”.
Techeetah driver Lotterer also commented on the placement of the attacke mode near to Turn 6.
“The track is super fun and there’s a fun spot coming out of Turn 6 and up the hill after the Attack Mode zone, where the cars take off the ground as the elevation pans out and we hit the straight”, he said. “With the close racing, we’ve seen this year so far, this could be an interesting spot to watch”.
Qualifying is key
One of the hot topics of the 2018/2019 season is the qualifying format, which sees all 22 drivers in 4 different groups. Many racers have complained because the order shuffles the grid in every event of Formula E.
As the championship heads to the final part of the season, mistakes in qualifying will not be an option for the title protagonists. In Rome there are few passing opportunities for those that find themselves at the back of the field. The attack mode may help, but in recent races, many drivers were utilising the mode at the same time, so any advantage may well be neutralised.
Images: ABB Formula E
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