The Formula E Rome E-Prix was red-flagged after nine laps after a harrowing pile-up occurred in the high-speed turn six. Several cars were involved with three cars taking most of the damage: the Jaguar TCS of Sam Bird, the Maserati MSG of Edoardo Mortara, and the Envision of Sébastien Buemi.
The collision started after Bird spun his Jaguar at the exit of turn six over a bump that unsettled another driver during qualifying. Turn six is narrow, blind, fast and walled on both sides, with no runoff for crashed cars, making the conditions for this type of crash optimal. Bird spun his Jaguar, and was collected shortly afterward by a charging Buemi who struck Bird’s disabled car at almost full speed. The angle of the accident wasn’t too severe, allowing Buemi’s car to glance heavily off of the back of Bird’s, though still causing significant damage to both.
This left Bird’s Jaguar in the middle of the track at turn six, blind to an oncoming Mortara, who hit Bird’s car at a shallow angle directly in the sidepod. Mortara’s Maserati glanced off of the sidepod of Bird’s Jaguar until it tangled into its rear suspension. While the rest of the Formula E field streamed through the wreckage, with some like Stoffel Vandoorne hitting the wall heavily in attempt to avoid the stationary Bird, the race was red-flagged.
Crashes like these expose the real danger of high-speed street circuits. Cars sitting immobile in the middle of the track during an active race on a narrow course are a recipe for disaster, and it is fortunate that all drivers escaped without injury.
The race restarted shortly afterward with a standing start and went on to an eventful finish with Mitch Evans winning the first Rome E-Prix and putting himself back into title contention.
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