Rome E-Prix: Di Grassi fastest as FP1 ends with major crash

Audi driver Lucas di Grassi topped the opening Formula E practice session ahead of the Rome E-Prix as the practice start procedure led to another major crash. 

Di Grassi used attack mode to set a 1m38.785s benchmark and run 0.062s clear of Mercedes rival Stoffel Vandoorne as the top 11 all classified within a second of one another. 

However, Jean-Eric Vergne, Oliver Turvey and Jake Dennis were involved in a major multi-car pile-up on the start straight. 

It is customary after the practice session for cars to line up on the grid and practice their launch. 

Last time out in Saudi Arabia, Venturi Racing driver Edoardo Mortara suffered a brake-by-wire issue and failed to slow his car after his practice getaway.  

He crashed heavily into the barrier and was taken to hospital for pre-cautionary checks. 

In Italy, the cars again slowed but NIO 333 driver Oliver Turvey was caught unawares.

He rounded the bend and arrived unsighted at the back of the pack to career into the rear of BMW Andretti racer Dennis and two-time champion Jean-Eric Vergne. 

At least eight cars were on this stretch of track at the time of the shunt. 

This comes amid frustration from a lack of team radio reception in the EUR district. 

Vergne appeared to be in some minor pain after he excited the car. 

Heavy damage exposed the driveshaft of his DS Techeetah, which means the team run the risk of not making qualifying due to the extensive repairs required. 

Turvey’s teammate Tom Blomqvist has been the cause of a red flag that stopped the session with five and a half minutes remaining. 

Throughout opening practice, Blomqvist in particular had been clattering the inside kerb at the Turn 12 chicane. 

Then at the Turn 14 90-degree right-hander, while following Turvey, Blomqvist locked the rears and skidded into the outside wall to halt proceedings.

Blomqvist and Vergne had also experienced a turbulent start to proceedings when issues under braking forced both to straight line corners and take to the run-off areas. 

Similarly, Dennis lost close to a minute when he ran wide but could not engage reverse gear to turnaround and re-join the circuit. 

Meanwhile, Envision Virgin Racing driver Robin Frijns posted the third-fastest time to eclipse Sergio Sette Camara for Dragon Penske Autosport - the team opting not to bring in its new Penkse EV-5 car for Rome despite the April 5 homologation window now coming into effect. 

Rome E-Prix - FP1 results:

Cla # Driver Team Time Gap
1 11 Brazil Lucas di Grassi
Germany Team Abt 1'38.785
2 5 Belgium Stoffel Vandoorne
Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team 1'38.847 0.062
3 4 Netherlands Robin Frijns
United Kingdom Virgin Racing 1'39.031 0.246
4 7 Brazil Sergio Sette Camara
DRAGON / PENSKE AUTOSPORT 1'39.044 0.259
5 71 France Norman Nato
Monaco Venturi 1'39.139 0.354
6 37 New Zealand Nick Cassidy
United Kingdom Virgin Racing 1'39.140 0.355
7 10 United Kingdom Sam Bird
Jaguar Racing 1'39.270 0.485
8 22 United Kingdom Oliver Rowland
France DAMS 1'39.558 0.773
9 27 United Kingdom Jake Dennis
United States Andretti Autosport 1'39.587 0.802
10 20 New Zealand Mitch Evans
Jaguar Racing 1'39.607 0.822
11 25 France Jean-Eric Vergne
China Techeetah 1'39.616 0.831
12 6 Switzerland Nico Müller
DRAGON / PENSKE AUTOSPORT 1'39.853 1.068
13 94 United Kingdom Alex Lynn
India Mahindra Racing 1'39.905 1.120
14 28 Germany Maximilian Gunther
United States Andretti Autosport 1'39.940 1.155
15 13 Portugal Antonio Felix da Costa
China Techeetah 1'40.039 1.254
16 17 Netherlands Nyck de Vries
Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team 1'40.139 1.354
17 8 United Kingdom Oliver Turvey
United Kingdom NIO Formula E Team 1'40.277 1.492
18 36 Germany Andre Lotterer
Germany Porsche Team 1'40.416 1.631
19 33 Germany René Rast
Germany Team Abt 1'40.490 1.705
20 29 United Kingdom Alexander Sims
India Mahindra Racing 1'40.699 1.914
21 48 Switzerland Edoardo Mortara
Monaco Venturi 1'40.741 1.956
22 99 Germany Pascal Wehrlein
Germany Porsche Team 1'41.708 2.923
23 88 United Kingdom Tom Blomqvist
United Kingdom NIO Formula E Team 1'42.631 3.846
24 23 Switzerland Sébastien Buemi
France DAMS 1'42.932 4.147
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Series Formula E
Event Rome E-Prix I
Author Matt Kew
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