Mitch Evans held off Andre Lotterer in a thrilling duel on the streets of Rome to give Panasonic Jaguar Racing its first victory in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship.
The New Zealander produced a late-braking move on the pole-sitting DS Techeetah driver with 16 minutes to go, shortly after being the first of the two leaders to switch on his Attack Mode power boost.
Evans drew alongside Lotterer as the pair entered the Turn 11-12 chicane and brushed past to take a lead that he would keep until the end of the 45-minute contest.
Lotterer responded by applying Attack Mode twice in quick succession but couldn’t find a way past the Jaguar driver, who still had one more power boost to apply.
Evans tried to counteract Lotterer’s second Attack Mode application but missed the designated activation zone which brought the DS Techeetah car right onto his tail, but pulled off a robust defence to then pick up the extra off-line power charge next time around.
The pair crossed the line nine tenths of a second apart, with Evans clinching his first career victory in the all-electric championship.
Jaguar’s previous best result was a third-place finish for Evans in last season’s second race on the streets of Hong Kong.
Stoffel Vandoorne, meanwhile, spent the whole race in third position to score his first Formula E podium and the first top-three classification for the HWA Racelab squad.
Envision Virgin Racing’s Robin Frijns made a late move on Nissan e.dams driver Sebastien Buemi to finish fourth, while Buemi’s teammate Oliver Rowland came through in sixth.
Frijns’ teammate Sam Bird, on the other hand, was involved in a chaotic opening lap that saw two separate incidents lead to a lengthy red flag stoppage.
Bird was tagged around by Jose Maria Lopez heading into the Turn 16-19 chicane, while Lopez then struck the barrier at the same on the next lap, causing a multi-car pileup.
The red flag spell enabled some drivers that were caught up, such as Bird and DS Techeetah’s Jean-Eric Vergne, to benefit from repairs, with Vergne working his way back into the points-paying positions after the restart.
However, the reigning champion subsequently lost his place in the top 10 when he was dealt a drive-through penalty for overtaking under a Full Course Yellow caused by Felipe Massa pulling his Venturi car to one side with a mechanical problem.
Both Venturi cars of Massa and Mortara retired, as did Gary Paffett’s HWA Racelab machine which nosed into Lopez’s Penske-powered Dragon during the red flag-inducing incident.
Mahindra’s Jerome d’Ambrosio re-took the championship lead from Antonio Felix da Costa by finishing in eighth, one place ahead of the BMW i Andretti driver, while Lucas di Grassi made up ground on the pair by coming through in seventh.
Maximilian Guenther was running well for GEOX Dragon after the restart, despite hitting the wall during the pre-red flag running, but ended up outside the points with an extra five seconds applied to his time for speeding under Full Course Yellows.
Evans’ Jaguar teammate Alex Lynn, meanwhile, finished 12th on his first outing with the British manufacturer.
RESULTS: GEOX Rome E-Prix