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Lotterer defends actions in Vardoorne’s early crash

Stoffel Vandoorne (Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team), Rome E-Prix – Credit: Courtesy of Formula E

In the first lap of round 3 of the Formula E World Championship at Rome, Andre Lotterer and Stoffel Vandoorne collided, causing damages on both cars and depriving them of a possible victory.

After a race start under the safety car due to wet conditions, Andre Lotterer went for an early move on Stoffel Vandoorne in an attempt to take over the lead of the race. As you could have expected, nothing went as planned as both drivers crashed, causing them to lose multiple positions and destroying their hopes of a race win.

Like very often in motorsports, this accident generated a great debate as some think Lotterer should have never tried such an early and dared move, especially on a very wet track, while others defend the Porsche driver, saying that Vandoorne brutally closed him the door to intimidate his German opponent.

“It was a bit unnecessary to take that risk on lap one,” says Vandoorne.

“Especially, Turn 7 was one of the most slippery corners. He was 20-30 meters behind and just had a late lunge, which for the opening lap was a little bit unnecessary. (…) We just needed to kind of figure out the conditions, stay there and then play the race from there,” he added.

Indeed, taking a closer look at the track layout, turn seven seems to be one of the trickiest to negotiate as it is a 90 degrees left-hander, leaving absolutely no space for error if someone tries to claim the inside line over another driver.

Oliver Rowland, the Nissan E.Dams driver, shares Vandoorne’s opinion as he thinks that Lotterer might have been a little impatient trying such a difficult move right after the race restart. The British driver thinks that his German fellow should have waited for a better opportunity, especially, considering the track conditions at the early stages of the race.

“My only thing to say is the first lap, maybe it was a little bit early to try something like that. Especially with the conditions. It was very wet. (…) I get that Andre wanted to get in front of them try and get away, but at the same time it was a little bit late.” said Rowland.

However, even after considering all these arguments, Andre Lotterer decided to hold his position as he is convinced the 29 years old Belgian should have left him enough space to try something as he was deliberately engaged on the inside line. 

The German, however, admitted his move was very early and might have been a little bit bold. Nonetheless, he thinks that this accident could have been easily avoided as he strongly believes that Vandoorne saw him and still decided to defend his position very aggressively.

“OK, it was maybe an early move, but we are racing. Unfortunately, that completely compromised the race and damaged my front wing. My steering was all over the place,” said Lotterer.

“He took it really easy. I was close by and he lifted very early for Turn 7, so I went for it. He saw that I went for it. (…) He defended quite aggressively and left me no space. When someone sends it like that, if you turn in, you’re going to crash.”

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