Jean-Eric Vergne

The greatest Formula E season ever? Electric racing resumes at the Eternal City of Rome

All roads lead to Rome, or so goes the famous saying. And for what is rapidly becoming the most exciting of all Formula E series, the streets of the ‘Eternal City’ could play host to yet another classic.

Now into only its fifth year of racing, this season has seen a quite remarkable six different winners in as many races, testament to the FIA’s ethos of standardising chassis and promoting development in battery technology alone. And it has worked a treat.

First came BMW’s Antonio Felix da Costa in Ad Diriyah, followed by Jerome d’Ambrosio in Marrakesh, Sam Bird in Chile, Lucas di Grassi in Mexico, Edoardo Mortara in Hong Kong and Jean-Eric Vergne in Sanya, China.

This sequence of results means that remarkably only ten points separates the top six drivers in the standings and it’s all to play for. What happens next, then? Well, the track characteristics in Rome are certainly testing, and the ‘Attack Mode’ zones will only be revealed an hour before racing begins.

So best to ask the leading protagonists what they think may occur in this most topsy-turvy of seasons to date.

For Sanya race winner Vergne, who will compete in his 50th ePrix on Saturday, the confidence gained from getting back to the top of the podium has done him the world of good.

“It felt really good to be back on the top step of the podium in Sanya,” said Vergne. “It’s been close a couple of times this season so being able to finally climb all the way up gave us a real confidence boost. Racing isn’t just a physical game but it’s a mental one too and it is really hard work to keep the same mentality when you’re not getting the results you aim for. I’m lucky to have such a strong team around me as its when you don’t have the results that its more important than ever to stick together and move forward as a team, and that’s what we’ve done so bring on Rome.”

Vergne’s teammate and sportscar legend Andre Lotterer is a driver who is well overdue a win in the series, having been cruelly denied in Hong Kong. So, don’t write off the popular German becoming the seventh different winner this time out on a track he enjoys.

“I had a nice podium and good speed in Rome last year so I’m excited to come back here,” said Lotterer. “As a driver you always want to improve and there’s only one way to improve our Rome race last year and that’s to come home with the number one trophy. 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 elevation pans out and we hit the straight. With the close racing we’ve seen this year so far, this could be an interesting spot to watch.”

And there’s interest all the way down the championship standings from top to bottom, NIO Formula E Team driver Oliver Turvey keen to become a part of that strong midfield battle soon after celebrating his birthday.

“I am really looking forward to going back to race in Rome, it is one of my favourite cities and a great place to start the European races in Formula E,” said Turvey. “The track is one of the longest and most challenging, with some steep gradients and tricky braking zones. The atmosphere was fantastic last year, with a lot of passionate Italian fans, so I will give it my best to put on a strong race and to score more points for the team.”

As far as the championship goes, it’s certainly all to play for. Da Costa leads with 62 points, one clear of d’Ambrosio with Vergne and Bird tied third on 54 points. Di Grassi and Mortara are tied fourth on 52 points with only three points then separating Daniel Abt in seventh and countryman Lotterer in ninth.

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.