13 May 21
- FAN ZONE
14 Apr 21
From Julius Baer Pole Position ahead of Round 3 and ending up in the wall in avoiding action, to a measured Round 4 victory; Mercedes-EQ's Stoffel Vandoorne appropriately proclaimed his Rome weekend a story of redemption.
Julius Baer Pole Position in tricky, drizzle-hit conditions ahead of Round 3 signalled that Stoffel Vandoorne and Mercedes-EQ could look forward to going well around the newly-amended Circuito Cittadino dell'EUR.
A Safety Car start in difficult conditions didn't take anything away from a spicy opening lap come the race. Once the pack was released, Porsche's Andre Lotterer, who Vandoorne had pipped to pole, immediately sniffed an opportunity to make a move stick on the Mercedes driver for the race lead. Contact was inevitable though, with Lotterer coming from some way back, and the German was later penalised by the addition of five seconds to his race time as a result.
The clash tipped Vandoorne into a spin and fell well down the order to 13th, but the 29-year-old had the pace in the car to clamber back through the pack. He made it look if not easy, then typically calm and collected in that very Vandoorne way, and that was despite the intense competition on show with the top 15 runners split by just over five seconds at times.
Vandoorne's recovery reached its peak on Lap 21, however. Taking avoiding action to swerve leader Lucas di Grassi's terminally failing Audi e-tron FE07, the Mercedes driver bottomed out on a manhole cover and was spat across the track at speed into the path of those behind. On his way around, he was clipped by teammate Nyck de Vries and eventually found the wall.
A lot of effort for nought, but Vandoorne reckoned he'd unlocked more in the car than he had in qualifying and with Round 4 less than 24 hours away, time to reset and go again.
Stoffel bounced back in the best possible way, qualifying fourth and making it count through ATTACK MODE to take the win in Round 4 - driving like he was "on another planet" according to Porsche's Pascal Wehrlein, from whom he pinched first spot.
Once he got out front, Vandoorne didn't look back and bossed things from there - using FANBOOST to fend off those behind on a frenetic final lap thanks to a late spell behind the MINI Electric Pacesetter.
"It was redemption," said Vandoorne. "I kept believing and was confident in the car. Saturday was emotional with the high of pole and then the Lap 1 incident and crash avoiding Lucas. The pace in the car was great all weekend and we got a decent qualifying and put all the pieces together - I knew I had the pace to go and win.
"I want to say thanks to the team. They were very good with the strategy and with the ATTACK MODES and the mechanics had a tough job to get everything ready after the crash. We were quick when it mattered and managed to build a gap when we needed it.
"I got a bit lucky maybe with the Full Course Yellow after Pascal (Wehrlein) took ATTACK MODE and got mine out of the way without getting in trouble. It's hard to tell what would have happened without the Safety Car, too.
"The guys behind had the same energy and were able to close the gap. It was tough with cold tyres and brakes and everyone was locking up but I just had enough to bring it home with FANBOOST left to use on the last lap and defend my position."
13 May 21
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12 May 21
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