Formula E: latest news and miscellaneous info from Rome

Daniel Abt and Lucas di Grassi have experienced a lot as race drivers. Even so, the two Audi drivers described their visit with Pope Francis on Wednesday as a “particularly unique experience.” Before the first E-Prix in the Italian capital, the head of the Catholic Church received all the drivers of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship. During the visit, the Pope also blessed the baby bump of Lucas di Grassi’s wife, Bianca. The Brazilian couple’s first baby is due in July.

Deployed for the first time this weekend as a race taxi at a Formula E event is the Audi e-tron Vision Gran Turismo. At the E-Prix in Rome, longstanding Audi factory driver and three-time Le Mans winner Dindo Capello is chauffeuring the guests of AUDI AG around the city circuit in the 600-kW (815-hp) electric race car concept. The first passengers on Friday were Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag and Italian Olympic snowboard cross gold medalist Michela Moioli.

The first European race of Formula E season 4 has attracted numerous guests to the Eternal City. Audi Italy in its Race Suite is expecting some 150 guests including Audi CEO Rupert Stadler. In addition, 120 guests of Team Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler’s partners are watching the E-Prix live at the venue in Rome.

Overall interest in the electric racing series is huge in the Italian capital. The 15,000 seats in the grandstands have been sold out for weeks. In total, the organizers are expecting a turnout of 30,000 spectators on Saturday.

With a length of 2.860 kilometers Rome is the second-longest Formula E track after Marrakesh. Daniel Abt and Lucas di Grassi know the circuit from the simulator and during Friday afternoon’s “track walk” gathered additional information. Both Audi campaigners were obviously thrilled by the fluid first track segment with its uphill and downhill sections. The narrow final section impressed them less.