Vandoorne had qualified his Mercedes EQ car on pole, and looked set to score a second career win in Formula E at the same venue he secured his first Formula E podium back in 2018.
Following an opening few laps which took place under the safety car, Vandoorne led the field away once the green flag dropped only to see the Porsche of Lotterer dive up the inside of him approaching Turn 7.
The pair made contact, forcing Vandoore to take to the escape road before rejoining in 14th. Lotterer was awarded a 5 second penalty for the incident, and finished the race outside of the points.
Vandoorne was able to keep going, however, and a strong recovery drive saw him battle back to fourth before another incident late in the race meant he ultimately ended the day pointless.
Speaking to Inside Electric afterwards, Vandoorne described the risk taken early on by Lotterer as “unnecessary” and had some less than complimentary words to describe how he thought his afternoon had gone.
“It was a shit race… well, good and bad,” he said. “Obviously we had the first incident with André, which was very unfortunate. I think it was a bit of an unnecessary risk to take on the first lap of the race, especially when the conditions were damp and very tricky.
“So basically, our race was kind of over from there and I dropped back to P14, but still managed to recover a lot of places from there, the speed in the car was really amazing today.
“I think in the race especially, I managed to unlock even a little bit more compared to the pole position we managed to have before, and yeah, I just managed to carve my way through.”
Despite seeing his chance to win all but ended in the opening few minutes of the race, a strong result and even a podium finish looked possible in the closing stages as the Belgian moved his way back through the field.
A nasty looking incident which ended the race of three cars including both Mercedes drivers, was later shown on TV replays to have been caused by a slowing Lucas di Grassi as Vandoorne explained.
“Everything was still to play for the [in the] final couple of laps. I was quite comfortable behind the Jaguars, I had a bit more energy compared to them,” Vandoorne said. “But yeah, then there was the incident with Lucas [di Grassi].
“I think he had a problem in turn six and basically slowed down massively and actually, that is the quickest corner on the circuit, so the approaching speed and the speed difference was massive.
“I had to take avoiding action and overtake him from the outside but there was a manhole cover, which basically made my car take off and I was a passenger basically. [It was a] big shunt and [caused] a lot of damage. Not the way I wanted to finish today, of course.”
Tipped by many to be a title challenger this season, Vandoorne has only seven points to show from a frustrating opening three rounds to the 2020-21 season. He’ll be hoping for better luck tomorrow when he qualifies from Group 3 for the second of two races this weekend in Rome.