DS Techeetah’s Jean-Eric Vergne claimed the 10th victory of his Formula E career during a chaotic, action-packed opening race at the Rome E-Prix.

Vergne had gained track position over Audi’s Lucas di Grassi heading into the final 10 laps of the race, but di Grassi caught the two-time Formula E champion by surprise with a brilliant divebomb move into Turn 4 to snatch the lead.

The season three champion appeared on course to take his first win in the series since the 2019 Berlin E-Prix but a suspected driveshaft failure on Lap 21 saw di Grassi suddenly plummet down the order and into retirement, handing the lead back to Vergne.

Stoffel Vandoorne simultaneously lost control of his Mercedes over the bumps at Turn 5 in the damp conditions and spun into the wall, with his teammate and erstwhile championship leader Nyck de Vries unfortunate to get caught up in the accident.

Both Mercedes drivers retired on the spot on what marked a disastrous day for the German manufacturer, with de Vries surrendering his points advantage, while Vandoorne will be left rueing his luck having started the race on pole position.

The ex-McLaren Formula 1 driver led the opening laps following a Safety Car start but his victory chances were ended when Andre Lotterer made an over-ambitious late move to try and take the lead at Turn 7, forcing both drivers into the wall.

Vandoorne and Lotterer both fell down the order, with the latter picking up a five-second time penalty that ultimately dropped him to P16 and last at the chequered flag.

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That incident opened the door for Vergne and di Grassi to engage in a thrilling race-long duel for the win before di Grassi’s issue dropped him out of contention.

Vandoorne’s crash resulted in the race ending under the Safety Car with significant debris strewn across the track.

Behind Vergne came Sam Bird, who battled his way through from 10th on the grid to finish an excellent second and subsequently move into the lead of the championship thanks to de Vries’ non-score.

Mitch Evans was third as the Jaguar team celebrated its first-ever double podium in Rome.

Envision Virgin racer Robin Frijns has moved up to second place in the championship thanks to a strong fourth-place finish, ahead of Nissan’s Sebastien Buemi who took fifth.

Audi’s Rene Rast was sixth, ahead of Porsche driver Pascal Wehrlein, Mahindra’s Alex Lynn and BMW racer Max Gunther, while Nick Cassidy scored his first Formula E points in 10th after Lotterer’s time penalty was applied.

The fourth round of the 2021 Formula E season takes place on Sunday in Rome.

FULL RACE RESULTS FROM THE THIRD ROUND OF THE 2021 FORMULA E SEASON AT THE ROME E-PRIX.