It’s been another round of ABB FIA Formula E, which means the paddock badlads that make up our intimidatingly criminal grid have been incurring punishments left, right and centre. And that’s just all the places Oliver Turvey’s car lost bodywork.
As there’s sometimes a lack of clarity about what, exactly, people are being punished for, here at IE we try to explain what is going on. With an emphasis on ‘try’ because despite my longstanding experience reading FIA, there are some answers even I can’t parse. But here’s all 19 (a bumper crop, compared to some) decisions the stewards came to at the first Rome round.
Several drivers fell foul of something we regularly end up talking about in these; over use of power. What that usually means is that they’ve run over a bit of kerbing and had a small spike, it’s just a thing that can happen – you see it in F1, too, where Daniel Ricciardo got a smacked wrist awhile back.
It might seem like it’s absurdly harsh to punish FE drivers for going over by hitting a kerb, since that’s sort of the way you have to drive in the series but the problem is if you start letting them get away with it without a results-affecting consequence then everyone’ll start doing it and saying ‘aaaah, it was the kerb’ every time. At the end of the day, there’s a hard limit on the number of kW you’re allowed to be using and you can either risk the consequences or go over with a bit more margin.
René Rast was the first offender, issued a €1000 fine for using 2.5kW excess power during free practice. It’s not a session where it’d matter to give him a drive-through, obviously, hence the fine. Less lucky were Oliver Rowland, Sergio Sette Camara and Nico Müller in the race who got a genuinely confusingly mixed penalty issued.
Previously, the phrasing they had as their offense – that the state of charge increases while the battery discharges from 100% – has been phrased as not following the battery software installation instructions and had a consequence of a fine. But this time they all got drive-throughs and it was classed as overuse of power, of a different sort to Rast’s. The Audi had a momentary spike, whereas the other three are being accused of having had too much power in their batteries at the start of the race. Slightly more baffling because they were busted during the race, so must have got caught on the grid or something. Anyway, that’s the breaks in Formula E, it’s like doing something sneaky with your fuel flow meter in F1, which no motorsport team in Italy has been accused of…
Doing it wrong
Edoardo Mortara got a drive-through penalty in the race for non-respect of Parc Fermé after qualifying – he stopped on track, so it’s probably not leaving his car in the right mode or not putting his steering wheel back or something. Either way, his day wasn’t going well by that point and got even worse.
Comparatively, JEV got a €1000 fine for being too slow on his in lap. That’s different to a penalty that’s seen drivers disqualified from the whole session before, which is if they use their brakes more on their slow in-lap than on their 250kW qualifying lap. That’s a fiddle with tyre pressures, to get the brakes really hot but this just seems to have been JEV going too slowly for whatever reasons of his own, hence the disparity in punishment.
JEV also got fined (he’s an expensive boy, the most generous FIA bar tab funder on the grid) for not charging the backup battery on his car. That’s not something in case the main battery fails, it’s for the control electronics – essentially does the job of the battery in your road petrol car.
Tom Blomqvist got a three-place grid drop in the race because he entered the fast lane too early during his group qualifying session and Sergio Sette Camara, who’s going to feature in this a lot, went slightly too fast under Full Course Yellow into turn 19 during the race and earned himself a five-second penalty added to his overall race time.
Finally, JEV and Oliver Turvey both got verbal warnings for leaving their cars without having been given permission to, after the smash at the end of FP1.
I have a permit
The first two decisions of the whole weekend were actually ones from Diriyah, with Mitch Evans allowed to replace a sidepod and rear wing and Alex Lynn allowed to replace the survival cell of his car without any punishment, after their mega-smash in Riyadh.
Then Oliver Turvey, Edoardo Mortara and Nick Cassidy had to get given permission to start the race after not setting times in qualifying. Oliver didn’t actually get a chance to go out, although the 333 team did get his car working before the end of the race, due to the safety car period but in theory he could have had a quick run, at least, from the pit lane.
Several car-wrestling incidents occurred, with André Lotterer done for his collision with Stoffel Vandoorne after the safety car had gone in at the start of the race, given a five-second time penalty and two penalty points. The same happened to Nick Cassidy for a collision with Jake Dennis at the same, tight spot on the track.
Oliver Turvey, however, took the motherlode of punishment for the bizarre incident at the end of first practice. After he hit the back of stationery cars around the blind corner the startinggrid is wrapped around, he was deemed to have cause a dangerous collision. That earned him six penalty points in one go. Several of the other drivers, JEV included (once he’d won the race) seemed to think Turvey’s error was very understandable under the circumstances so it does feel harsh to impose something so severe.
And that’s all your penalties from race one. Now to start it all over again.