12 Apr 19

Pre-Race Round-Up: Massa 'at home,' Di Grassi cranks up the pressure and Bird 'confident' ahead of Rome race

After six different winners from six different teams in six rounds of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, we find ourselves in the historical heartland of Rome. With just hours until all 22 cars and drivers battle around the Circuito Cittadino dell'EUR, here's the top three storylines to look out for during the race on April 13.   

Bird 'confident' in Cittadino dell'EUR

By the time the race starts on Saturday, April 13, exactly 364 days will have passed since Envision Virgin Racing's Sam Bird clinched the win in Rome last season. Now, with his new Audi powered Gen2 car, the Brit is hoping for a repeat performance here in the EUR district. "The race format has changed so much, so you can't really read into past results too much. Yes, we were quick last year but it's a different day and a different car, so it will all be very different," admits the championship hopeful. 

Measuring in at 2.87km, the Circuito Cittadino dell'EUR is the longest course in the calendar and, with ups, downs, lumps and bumps to contend with, it's also one of the most challenging.   

"The circuit here is brilliant. It's great fun to have some undulation - there's so much more character to a circuit like this," says Bird ahead of the race.

"I really enjoy coming here - I think the layout is superb - it's a lot more fun and more overtakes so it should be good."

Currently placed fourth in the Championship standings, Bird will be looking to improve his standing over the course of the voestalpine European races to be in a position to challenge for the Championship title. With only ten points separating the top six drivers, it's tough at the top and closer than ever before.    

"I feel confident on every circuit and, yes, I won last year here but I go to every track believing that I can score a good amount of points. I just need to get out there, do my job and keep building the points - it's simple." 

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Massa 'at home' in Rome

For motorsport master and Venturi driver Felipe Massa, the race in Rome feels like home after the Brazilian drove for the Ferrari Formula One squad for a decade.  

"For me, it feels like home and being back here with my Italian family," said Massa, overlooking a sea of Roman fans. Following his footballing performance against Roma Legends the evening before, the race in Rome will another test for Massa as he looks to improve on his 15th place position in the standings.

"The way I live is very Italian and I raced for Ferrari for a long time, so it's a great feeling to be racing here and have the fans on my side.

"Rome is a beautiful city with amazing people so I will try everything I can to get my best result here. If I can fight for the podium or even the victory here would be amazing" 

felipe massa formula e in rome

'Mr Consistent' calculates his chances 

Ahead of the Rome race, Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler's Lucas di Grassi - one of Formula E's seasoned masters - once again looks set to disturb the peace in Europe. After an epic win in Mexico City, where the Brazilian stole the top spot from Mahindra's Pascal Wehrlein just meters from the finish line, di Grassi proved he has both the pace and the potential to clinch another Championship title in Formula E.

"The correlation from last year is completely different. It's a different race, a different scenario, different cars, different teams, so we cannot say that because we had good results in Europe last season, we'll see them again now," admits the Brazilian.

"Since Santiago, we've been good. We've been consistent since then but everyone else has been working hard too, so the level of competition is extremely high." 

Last season, the former champ had a sensational streak of podium finishes in Europe, which saw him accumulate a total of 80 points ahead of the finale in New York City, where he ended up finishing second overall behind Vergne. 

"My target is to maximise points - sometimes you have to be aggressive and sometimes you have to be conservative. Some drivers are aggressive all the time but I try to balance and find the best solution for every race. 

"Emotion serves as a good motivation but all the decisions that are not made in the right way end up hampering you in the long term. It's about using the data and the team around you to make the right decisions," says the former champ.

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