It’s certainly been a lengthy wait for the second Formula E Accelerate Major of 2023 to arrive. Back at the end of April, we all witnessed Marcell Csincsik hold off two-time champion Frederick Rasmussen in a massive statement drive around Tempelhof Airport.
The Berlin Major was hardly a riveting watch; Bono Huis provided the most entertainment buried amongst the midfield runners. However, with months of further practice under their belts, many drivers felt assured that the quality of entertainment would be raised around the streets of Rome.
A brief reminder of the stakes. This upcoming race would be the final opportunity to score points before the top eleven drivers progress to the London E-Prix LAN Grand Final. Awaiting those who made the cut would be a €40,000 prize pool to divvy up. Hardly chump change.
One very noticeable difference between the real-world Rome-based Formula E events this particular weekend was the track itself. Accelerate was stuck with the original Rome E-Prix layout, last seen in the 2018-19 season of the sport.
A lot has happened to Csincsik in those past four years. Chief amongst them, surely, will be his current magnum opus – becoming the first ESL R1 champion. Having already secured his spot in London, chances were he’d be the outright favourite to dethrone Rasmussen with a good result out of Round 2. The day started well as pole position was his.
Joining the Hungarian on the front row would be Jernej Simončič who completed the podium in Germany. Huis strung together a far more convincing qualifying effort than on that day. He netted third ahead of Risto Kappet who was the final points scorer behind the Dutchman who recovered to seventh in race trim.
Rasmussen was not so conspicuous by his absence having also locked in his ticket to London. Nevertheless, it was interesting to note that whilst he was away Csincsik and Simončič were still here to play.
Early pressure from Huis forced Simončič onto the immediate defence. Csincsik did not need to be offered a golden opportunity twice, flying away from those behind across the opening lap. Though burning through more of his battery, the rewards were evident as by the time his first tour of Rome was completed a 2.6-second advantage was in the pocket.
Csincsik aside, Petar Beljak was also enjoying some success. He had jumped Kappet at the start, moving up into fourth, and was the first driver to activate Attack Mode; not losing a single position in the process. These would be crucial moments for both drivers given their respective struggles last time out.
Kappet, however, was struggling. It was a surprise to see him hit the front two rows in qualifying but that pace was not translating properly. As Brljak pulled away, Lucas Müller was now on the charge. The Estonian appeared desperate to get his Attack Mode out of the way on Lap 8 conceding positional advantage to the German.
Attention turned to Brendon Leigh who had broken free of the dogfight behind him over eighth place. Jacob Reid emerged on top of the scrap with David Mroczek remaining in pursuit; Isaac Gillissen was worse for wear losing a number of seconds thanks to some rough-house rowdiness. It was likely to be for nought as, realistically speaking, only a top-six finish would put you in the conversation for London.
As for Leigh himself, the assault upon Kappet was fierce and the Estonian needed to keep his guard about him for a number of consecutive laps. By far the best chance for the two-times F1 Esports champion would arrive down at Turn 13, a chance which Kappet firmly denied. It was a dicey cut across the nose of Leigh’s car but deemed passable in the eyes of the stewards.
Ahead of that pair lay the battle pack of Müller, Brljak, Huis and Simončič. Despite the latter demonstrating the slowest speed at this stage, he was able to string together tidy enough laps to keep Huis – and by that virtue everyone else – at arm’s length.
Though that descriptor is not enough to correctly label Csincsik’s domination in Rome. Leading from the pole to the chequered flag, it was one of the only prolonged moments where we got to see his car in front of the cameras.
One last twist was yet to come as Leigh was in trouble. After such a promising debut in the championship, his quest for sixth place had taken too much out of his power reserves. He crawled over the line in ninth, ruining his chances of a LAN appearance in London.
Formula E Accelerate 2023, Rome Major race results
- Marcell Csincsik
- Jernej Simončič
- Bono Huis
- Petar Brljak
- Lucas Müller
- Risto Kappet
- Jacob Reid
- Dawid Mroczek
- Brendon Leigh
- Isaac Gillissen