ROME (Reuters) – New Zealander Mitch Evans gave Jaguar a first Formula E victory on Saturday in a red-flagged race in Rome that made him the seventh different winner from seven teams in seven rounds this season.
Belgian Jerome d’Ambrosio returned to the top in the all-electric series on 65 points, one clear of Portugal’s previous leader Antonio Felix da Costa.
The top nine in the championship are now separated by just 13 points, with Evans moving up to fourth on 61 after his first Formula E triumph and Germany’s Andre Lotterer third on 62.
“I’m speechless. It’s been a tough couple of seasons,” said Evans, a winner in GP2 (now Formula Two) in 2016.
“It’s been a long time coming but honestly it’s so worth it. Everyone’s worked their hearts out. I’ve been here from the start so it just feels really special,” added the 24-year-old.
His manager, Australian former F1 driver Mark Webber, was on hand to witness the breakthrough.
Lotterer finished runner-up for DS Techeetah after starting on pole position, with Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne third for HWA in a first Formula E podium for the former McLaren Formula One driver.
The race was stopped early on after the narrow street circuit in the city’s EUR district was completely blocked by a pile-up.
Argentine Jose-Maria Lopez crashed at Turn 17 and his Dragon car was hit by Gary Paffett’s HWA, the Briton in turn being rammed from behind by reigning champion Jean-Eric Vergne’s Techeetah.
Lotterer led the re-start, after a 45-minute delay, but Evans passed him with an aggressive move into the tight Turn 11 chicane after activating his car’s ‘attack mode’ for a power boost.
“We all know Andre’s pretty hard to pass so I had to become a little bit creative,” said Evans, who missed the attack mode sensors on his second run through the zone and had to try a third time.
The top two ran nose-to-tail, with Lotterer unable to find a way past when his attack mode was activated and making contact as both fought for position while also trying to save power to the finish.
“He drove a great race and it was a nice battle. He was just quicker,” said Lotterer, who finished 0.979 seconds behind Evans.
Britain’s Sam Bird was a first-lap casualty but the delay gave Virgin Racing the time to fix the car and get him back out. The previous championship leader finished 11th and dropped to eighth on 54 points.
(Writing by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Clare Fallon)