Mercedes driver Stoffel Vandoorne said a manhole cover caused his crash which ended round 3 of the FIA Formula E World Championship at Rome early.
Vandoorne started the race on pole position and led at the start, but then Lotterer collided with him while attempting to make a late move. The latter was then handed a 5-second time penalty. The Belgian driver had dropped to 13th place and started making his recovery.
In the closing stages of the race, Lucas di Grassi slowed down due to mechanical issues, with the pack trying to evade him; this made Vandoorne go wide to the outside and into the manhole cover, which sent him ‘flying’ and is what ultimately caused the race-ending incident.
“I had just got p5,” said Vandoorne. “Then Lucas, he had a problem up the hill into turn 6, which is the quickest corner of the circuit actually. A lot of cars had to take an avoiding action and swerve past him. So did I.
“I had to go around the outside, but there was a manhole cover. Basically, the car just took off when I hit it. There were no wheels on the ground anymore, I was just a passenger, basically.
“[It was a] big, big impact because you have the high speed there. A lot of damage to the car.”
Vandoorne’s teammate, Nyck de Vries, was also involved in the incident, as the Dutchman collided with the Belgian while trying to take evasive action.
“[Lucas] was on the racing line. Stoffel had to go around the outside and obviously, the shaping of the track, that makes it very tricky and it’s bumpy.
“He lost the car. I had nowhere to go. There is only a racing line,” he stated.