In Rome there was a fitting gladiatorial battle between two of Formula E’s toughest racers; Jaguar’s Mitch Evans and DS Techeetah’s Andre Lotterer.
Reprising their fight, which was then for third position, in the inaugural Rome E-Prix 12 months earlier, the pair were the class of the field for the majority of the race that bewitched those in the undulating amphitheatre.
Evans won out after a brawny move at the chicane. It triggered a driver conduct warning for the Kiwi, but in the intensity of the battle few begrudged such a genuinely opportunistic move.
This riled Lotterer significantly and he then went on the attack taking his two mandatory Attack Zone hits in quick succession, forcing Evans’ hand in another thrilling and tense finale.
Despite missing the transponder loops in the track on one occasion, Evans held on by a whisker under a second.
The relief in the Jaguar pit was tangible. Team director James Barclay was briefly lost in the ecstasy and liberation, he rejuvenated before your very eyes.
Rewind two weeks, after another fitful performance at Sanya, and the team had reached a crossroads. Tough decisions had to be made, and they were.
Now, Jaguar was lapping up the taste of victory on the international stage for the first time in 28 years and the giddy fortunes of Formula E were showing their mighty swings once again.
Mitch Evans’ Account of Rome
“It’s about being smart with energy and not race like I may have done a bit last year. It’s like a chess match, the whole race,” Evans told e-racing365 as he changed from champagne soaked overalls a few hours after the battle.
The Panasonic Jaguar Racing driver said that he was initially surprised at being able to track Lotterer and manage his energy consumption adequately during the 45-minute race.
“I knew I had the control, the speed,” he said.
“To be honest, when I first got the energy readings that I was 2 percent up on him, I was extremely surprised because I was not cruising, and I was not losing any pace to him, so I thought ‘OK, this is looking good.”
“I didn’t want to waste the Attack Mode.
“The guys were telling me that he’s going to do the Attack Zone this lap, you should think about it. I said ‘no, I want to be on a different strategy to him. That’s my only opportunity to get by.”
“Fortunately, we did that. The move [into the chicane] was on the edge, I need to see the replay, but I got a nice move done.
“That was not the most conventional corner to overtake but in this championship, against a tough racer like Andre, you need to take any opportunity like that, so I had a little sniff and it happened.
“I think it was reasonably fair, there was a bit of contact, but it was fair hard racing. From there, I knew I had the pace to keep him behind.”