It was a challenging weekend for Gary Paffett as he failed to finish the GEOX E-Prix in Rome after being involved in an early, multi-car collision through no fault of his own, in the first of the European races in this season's ABB FIA Formula E Championship.
Travelling to the Rome E-Prix for the first European based race of the season, Paffett had hoped for the possibility of another point scoring race in the Italian capital. However, the HWA RACELAB driver was part of an unfortunate collision early on in the race, from which his VFE05 car could not recover.
Gary’s weekend got off to a challenging start as the HWA RACELAB driver got up to speed with the demands of the tight streets of Rome and the SAP-sponsored driver finished the opening two sessions in 19th and 16th respectively.
Moving into qualifying, Gary’s seemed to struggle to extract the full performance of his VFE05 car, with the testing street circuit in the Italian capital proving to be a difficult task for many of the drivers on the grid. Finishing the session in P16, Gary was moved up to P15 for the start of the race but still had a big challenge ahead of him if he wished to score any points in Rome.
With rain falling in Rome just before the start of the race, conditions were tricky but Gary made an excellent start and moved himself up to P13 on a slippery surface and managed to make it past the notoriously difficult turn one despite being in the middle of the pack.
However, Gary was soon on the end of some poor luck as he came through the tight section of turn 16 to turn 19. Following closely on the tail of José Maria Lopez, Lopez lost control of his car heading through turn 18 and collided into the wall.
Gary then found himself caught up in José María Lopez’s crash, leaving Gary no room to move and avoid the car. Jean-Eric Vergne then crashed into the back of Paffett’s car in a multi-car pile-up, causing damage to the Brit’s car. The race was then red flagged and Gary was unable to continue due to the heavy damage his car sustained in the accident.
Disappointed with his weekend in Rome, Gary added:
"That was very disappointing. Qualifying was tough. I didn’t really put together a good lap. As a result, I had to start from the middle of the pack and was then involved in a collision. My gut feeling is that the car was good in the unsettled conditions. The pace seemed pretty good on the first couple of laps, I was able to overtake a few drivers, and I felt very good in the car.”
“However, I was then caught up in the aftermath of another driver's crash. López - I don't know what he did there. He completely missed the apex in a corner and then went straight into the wall. When you are right behind a car that drives into the wall, there is nothing you can do. I hit him and Jev [Jean-Eric Vergne] hit me. The front of the car was damaged and that was the end of the race for me. It was a real shame!"
Echoing Gary’s disappointment, HWA team principal, Ulrich Fritz commented:
“It is a shame that Gary was out of the race so early on, through no fault of his own. He too could have been on for a good result today.”
Leaving Rome with no added points to his tally, the Formula E Championship will remain in Europe for round eight of the season in Paris, where racing will return on April 27th.