Jose-Maria Lopez felt the drive-through penalty he received for colliding with Sam Bird on the opening lap of the GEOX Rome E-Prix was a harsh call.
The GEOX Dragon driver started from third position after fighting back from an earlier practice accident, but came to blows with Bird’s Envision Virgin machine at the Turn 16-19 chicane in the initial exchanges.
Lopez skated wide at the first corner on the damp track and lost several positions before tapping Bird around and then causing a red flag after triggering a multi-car shunt at the same chicane a lap later.
“With Sam, honestly, I’m sorry for him but I felt like I was pushed into the inside. I was there, I couldn’t really do much,” Lopez told e-racing365.
“It was a tricky corner and it ended up badly. I don’t really agree with the penalty because there was nothing I could do. I think it was severe really.”
Lopez based his opinion of the penalty on the basis that the stewards were given an updated remit on track behaviour before the Rome E-Prix.
This saw a warning system for drivers enforced with the leading pair in yesterday’s race, Mitch Evans and Andre Lotterer, receiving the first ever in-race warning for their contact while disputing the lead.
No further action after the clash which saw Evans take the lead and claim Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s first victory in Formula E.
“It has happened in the past like this and we know that they’re going to be a little bit more aggressive with penalties now, so I guess they were,” commented Lopez.
The Argentinian then offered an explanation for the race-stopping accident that caused a track blockage involving Jean-Eric Vergne, Gary Paffett and several other drivers.
“In Turn 17 I had massive oversteer, I had to correct and I braked to avoid the contact with the wall and the guy behind me just pushed me into the wall basically,” he said.
“I think it was Gary [Paffett]. He had nothing to do because, honestly, I had to brake to avoid the wall. In my side, I never expected the oversteer.”
Lopez Upset with “Frustrating” Race
Lopez described his incident-filled race as “frustrating” after serving his penalty and finishing the race in 16th position.
The GEOX Dragon team scored its best combined qualifying performance since Season 2 when Lopez placed third and teammate Maximilian Guenther secured fifth on the starting grid, meaning both progressed to the Super Pole shootout.
Guenther went on to finish 19th and a lap down after being called to serve a penalty of his own for speeding under a Full Course Yellow period.
“Of course, I’m very happy with the performance in quali but then in the race you want to deliver, you want have a good result because it’s a very good chance,” said Lopez.
“Unfortunately today the rain didn’t make it easy for us and then we had a few things, a few errors. I cannot be happy with the result, especially starting from P3.
“When you start from the back, I would say it’s difficult but today I started from P3 and we couldn’t deliver, so it’s a very frustrating day.”