Coughton racer Alexander Sims scores first podium with Mahindra Racing at Rome E-Prix double-header
ALEXANDER Sims reflected on a "weekend of two halves" after the Rome E-Prix double-header, where he retired from the first race before going on to claim a podium finish in the second.
Announced as a double-header event two weeks ago, the Italian races took place on a newly configured city-centre circuit that resulted in highly-competitive and action-packed racing in the third and fourth rounds of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.
Red flags disrupted both practice sessions and the incidents continued into qualifying for Saturday's race.
Coughton driver Sims set his fastest lap of 1:39.829s to claim 15th on the grid, however, his race had barely got under way before he was forced to retire after being hit from behind.
However, Sunday’s action told a different story. A wet track during qualifying added another layer of complexity to the challenging circuit, but Sims showed pace and prowess to advance through group qualifying to super ole, where he set the sixth fastest time overall.
The race started under safety car conditions due to a damp track and Sims was quickly promoted to fifth when pole-sitter and race leader Nick Cassidy spun on the opening lap.
As drivers ahead took their first attack mode, the 33-year-old jumped two places and was running in third by lap seven.
A full course yellow followed and at the restart Sims made a point-perfect move around Pascal Wehrlein to take second place.
Sims charged on, gaining ground on race leader Stoffel Vandoorne in the Mercedes, but in the closing laps the safety car came out while a stranded René Rast was recovered.
This resulted in a last-lap dash for the finish line. Sims held position to cross the line second and claim his first podium of the season and best result to date for Banbury-based team Mahindra Racing.
“I’m pretty happy with the result” said Sims. “The weekend was really split into two halves.
"Saturday it was pretty difficult in general; it felt like we could have got something from the race but, by being taken out on lap one, it was over before it had begun.
"But Sunday we did good work in practice and the car was brilliant in group qualifying.
"We know the car this season is strong in the race and very efficient, and we were able to put that to good use. We had genuinely good pace, there was an exciting overtake on Pascal [Wehrlein] on the full course yellow restart and, after that, it was just ticking the laps down.
"It’s nice for the whole of Mahindra and I’m happy to get my first podium with the team.”
Team principal Dilbagh Gill now hopes that after waiting such a long time to Mahindra get back on the podium, the next appearance on the rostrum will be just around the corner.
"We’re delighted that our new car, the M7Electro, with our new ZF powertrain, is proving competitive on track," he said.
"We can already see that the incredibly hard work we have done on where needed to improve from the last couple of seasons is paying dividends.
"I am so happy for Sims and it’s a wonderful start to the season for him in only his second race weekend for us.”
Sims secured 18 points from the Rome double-header, increasing his points tally to 24 and putting him ninth in the drivers’ standings. Mahindra Racing is currently seventh in the teams’ standings on 28 points.
The next event in the Formula E World Championship takes place in Valencia, Spain, with another double-header on 24th and 25th April.