Formula E Rennstart in Rom

New ancient customs in Rome

Audi gladiators at Formula E premiere achieve success

Although racing has always been a spectacle in Rome, the Rome E-Prix on Saturday presented a premiere for the Formula E. Both Audi drivers delivered a furious race to catch up in the "eternal city", which ended in a duel for victory shortly before the race’s end...

Audi Pilot bei der Formel E vor Kolosseum in Rom
Car chases in front of breathtaking scenery: For the first time ever, a Formula E race took place in Rome. The race took the drivers on a route passing by historical monuments while being on the hunt for the pole position.

Until the 6th century, Romans gathered at Circus Maximus to follow the popular chariot races, where 2 to 4 HP provided for spectacle and enthusiasm. About one and a half thousand years later and almost ten kilometres further south, a race event once again attracted some 30,000 spectators to the circuit on Saturday – at the first Rome E-Prix in the history of Formula E.

The Italian capital should have already been part of the racing calendar in the first season of the electric series. After a political change in Rome, however, the issue was initially off the agenda. Together with the current mayor Virginia Raggi, Formula E finally managed to realize a race in the “eternal city”.

How the preparation for the Formula E race looked like for the two Audi drivers

The series built a demanding street course in the EUR district (Esposizione Universale di Roma; world exhibition) that aimed to push the drivers to their limits. The two Audi gladiators Lucas di Grassi and Daniel Abt could see this for themselves when the free practice session opened at 8 am local time on Saturday morning. Both even received a personal blessing from Pope Francis a week before the race, ensuring a positive mindset for their race on Saturday. Along old monuments and the Marconi obelisk, they got to know the “Circuito Cittadino dell’EUR” for the first time in reality. The reigning champion di Grassi already indicated the potential of his Audi e-tron FE04 during practice and finished in third place that morning.

Around noon the stands filled up, because qualifying was on the agenda for 12 o’clock. Both di Grassi and Abt had to compete in Quali Group 3. While the German had difficulties with his tyres on his fast lap, teammate di Grassi was able to position himself in the top 5 at first, but missed the super poles by a hair’s breadth in sixth place. Abt finished ninth on the grid position.

Formel E Piloten Daniel Abt und Lucas di Grassi im Gespräch

The two Audi pilots in conversation: Daniel Abt Lucas di Grassi had some difficulties in qualifying and therefore started the race on position six and nine.

Rupert Stadler tests new Audi e-tron Vision Gran Turismo racing taxi

In the three-hour break between qualifying and the race, Audi attracted all eyes elsewhere. For the first time, the Ingolstadt-based company used the recently presented Audi e-tron Vision Gran Turismo as a Formula E race taxi. The futuristic all-electric concept car was developed on the basis of the Playstation 4 game Gran Turismo and will also drive guests of Audi around the track in future Formula E races. One of the first passengers: Rupert Stadler. The Chairman of the Audi Board of Management visited Team Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler in Rome for the first time. Meanwhile, Di Grassi and Abt prepared for the race start at 4 pm and were happy about the huge crowd during the autograph session.

Abt passed his team mate di Grassi at the start and successfully defended himself against the experienced Brazilian in the first half of the race. However, di Grassi was a bit faster at the parallel vehicle change, leading to an exchange of positions. In the second half of the race, the numerous fans eyed a real spectacle. Di Grassi overtook Lotterer first and then fought his way past his eternal Formula E rival Sebastien Buemi thanks to FANBOOST. In the last rounds a thrilling triathlon for victory emerged. Di Grassi finally managed to grab hold of Mitch Evans, but wasn’t fast enough to overtake the leader Sam Bird. Just 0.970 seconds behind, the Audi driver came second across the finish line – which marked the end of a furious yet successful pursuit race in Rome.

Frontaufnahme Lucas di Grassi, Rupert Stadler und Daniel Abt
Thumbs up: Audi CEO Rupert Stadler with the successful Formula E pilots Lucas di Grassi and Daniel Abt.

“People always want to see people compete against each other. This was already the case with the Romans, and will continue to be the case in the future,” Formula E boss Alejandro Agag said a good two and a half years ago. That’s right. The success of the first Rome E-Prix proves this.

Successful Formula E premiere for Audi in Rome

Last weekend, the first Formula E race took place in the Italien capital – Lucas di Grassi and Daniel Abt competed for the Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler team. The two Audi drivers delivered an exciting race including a brilliant race to catch up. In the end, they finished on second and fourth place.

Ready for the race: Daniel Abt and Lucas di Grassi started the race for the Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler team.
Now on the console, but soon in the race car: Lucas di Grassi at the steering wheel.
Preparations for the big race: In the week prior to the race, the two pilots received a personal blessing from Pope Francis.
Shortly after the start on position 8, after an exciting passing maneuvers, Lucas di Grassi made position two and thus made it to the podium.
The recently presented Audi e-tron Vision GT was used as a race taxi in the interval between qualifying and the actual race.
After a marbled start, Lucas di Grassi made the second place on the podium. Sam Bird was in first place, André Lotterer made third place.

Ready for the race: Daniel Abt and Lucas di Grassi started the race for the Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler team.

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Now on the console, but soon in the race car: Lucas di Grassi at the steering wheel.

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Preparations for the big race: In the week prior to the race, the two pilots received a personal blessing from Pope Francis.

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Shortly after the start on position 8, after an exciting passing maneuvers, Lucas di Grassi made position two and thus made it to the podium.

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The recently presented Audi e-tron Vision GT was used as a race taxi in the interval between qualifying and the actual race.

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After a marbled start, Lucas di Grassi made the second place on the podium. Sam Bird was in first place, André Lotterer made third place.

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Audi Formula E Team Presentation
Audi MediaCenter

Formula E

Audi will be the first German automobile manufacturer to race in Formula E. The brand with the four rings is taking over ABT Sportsline’s place on the grid. The Allgäu-based team has been successfully present in Formula E since the electric racing series’ inception and in the future will be taking care of the Audi race cars as the fielding team. Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler will start to the fourth Formula E season in Hong Kong at the beginning of December. Audi driver Lucas di Grassi clinched the FIA Formula E title in the 2016/2017 season.

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