A disappointing end to the Formula E race weekend in Rome for Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler: on Sunday, both Lucas di Grassi and René Rast did not finish the race following accidents. Despite starting from pole position, customer team Envision Virgin Racing also remained without any points in the second race.
A wet qualifying session early on Sunday morning already went anything but as hoped for Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler. Sixth in the drivers’ standings, René Rast had to take to the track in the first group, a huge disadvantage for the German: “After our group went out, the rain eased off. In the end, the track was almost ten seconds faster than in our group.”
Rast subsequently had to settle for 19th on the grid. Teammate Lucas di Grassi experienced slightly better conditions in his qualifying group and started from 13th. The Brazilian quickly worked his way up into the points in the race, before he was hit in the back by Sébastien Buemi on a straight on lap eight and violently crashed into the barriers. “This was a very dangerous move,” said di Grassi.
As on the previous day, René Rast showed an impressive comeback drive that brought the reigning DTM champion up into the top ten. Four laps before the end of the race, the German clipped the wall, causing the right rear suspension to break, resulting in Rast also hitting the wall. “I had a moment of oversteer out of the last corner,” said Rast. “A small mistake with a huge consequence, but actually my day was only going to be tough after the bad luck with the weather in qualifying.”
“Losing both cars due to accidents is extremely bitter,” said Team Principal Allan McNish. “The situation that led to Lucas’s retirement was disappointing where the video looked like Sébastien caught Lucas at the rear and spun him into the wall. René made a small mistake that led to his retirement. The most important thing is that both remained unhurt, because both experienced quite hard impacts. It is annoying that the final race result again remained below our potential here. As in Diriyah, we had one of the fastest cars in the field.”
With 18th and 21st for Robin Frijns and Nick Cassidy, Sunday’s race also ended disappointingly for customer team Envision Virgin Racing. The only consolation: Formula E rookie Nick Cassidy secured pole position in the extremely difficult conditions. However, the New Zealander squandered the advantage of the best grid position with a spin shortly after the start.
Formula E continues with another double header in a fortnight at Valenica in Spain.