Monaco Increase managed driver Pascal Wehrlein is still in the fight for the ABB Formula E championship thanks to a hard-fought seventh place in the first round of the Rome e-prix. Wehrlein was able to recover from an early race accident which pushed him back to the bottom of the field with a broken front wing on his #94 Tag-Heuer Porsche car. After the race, though, he was given a 5-second penalty for speeding under red flag (his steering wheel could not activate the speed limiter, having been damaged in an earlier collision).
The Italian weekend had started well for Pascal, who on Thursday was among the recipients of the prestigious ‘Premio Confartigianato Motori’, awarded for more than 40 years to the personalities of all categories of motor-racing. Once on track, Wehrlein showed his talent by being fastest overall in the first practice session on Friday. He went on to take P4 in the second free practice, but qualifying did not go as well as he had so sit just out of the top 4 of his group and despite being put back in the car awaiting for other drivers to be penalized (for overtaking under yellow flag) in the end he came out with P10 on the grid, alongside title contender Nick Cassidy.
At the start of the race, MIM’s Wehrlein tried to stay out of trouble but on the way to Turn 6 the pack had to slow down and Wehrlein’s car collided with Max Günther’s Maserati trying to come round on the outside, resulting in a broken front wing. Wehrlein had to drive back to pits for a new nose-cone, but his race was partially ‘saved’ by a safety car following Lotterer’s crash. As the cars all lined up, Pascal found himself at the back of the field and chose to clear his first Attack Mode with a 6-minute stint, recovering various positions in the process. But it wasn’t long before a horrific crash involving multiple cars caused the race to be red-flagged as the marshalls cleared the EUR course from debris. The e-prix resumed almost one hour later from Lap 10 (with another two lap being added to compensate for the early safety car period) and Wehrlein showed good pace at the expenses of Merhi, Vandoorne, Fenestraz, Sette-Camara and Nato eventually crossing the finish line in P7. Hard to do any better after his race had been destroyed at the beginning, and with the two points collected Pascal brought his championship tally to 144 ahead of Round 14 which will be run on Sunday afternoon.