The NIO333 team has begun a race against time to get a new Formula E car built up around a fresh survival cell for Oliver Turvey to use in this afternoon’s first Rome E-Prix.
Turvey triggered a heavy crash when he hit a group of cars that was undertaking start practice at the end of Saturday morning’s opening session.
Sebastien Buemi, Edoardo Mortara, Jake Dennis, Alex Lynn, Norman Nato and Jean-Eric Vergne were waiting in a staggered formation at the official start line, which features a left-hand kink.
It appeared that Turvey was unaware the practice starts were taking place and hit Vergne’s DS Techeetah and Dennis’s BMW, causing significant damage to all three cars. Others, including Lynn’s Mahindra, picked up minor damage.
A dramatic end to Free Practice 1, but we're pleased to say all drivers involved are OK.#RomeEPrix pic.twitter.com/GVeNUJ4ABN
— ABB FIA Formula E World Championship (@FIAFormulaE) April 10, 2021
The Race understands that there are no significant radio communications issues around the Rome track, despite speculation that Turvey might not have heard warnings.
The radios run through a Magneti Marelli 5ghz system that is dotted around the circuit. This weekend teams are allowed to use 5ghz WiFi in their garages for the first time but only on specific 5 ghz channels and frequencies. Previously they’ve only been allowed to use 2.4ghz WiFi.
The new-look Rome circuit has an off-set start and finish line arrangement.
The start line – where the incident occurred – is located on the long straight between Turns 6 and 7. The finish line is located opposite the pitlane after Turn 19.
By regulation practice starts may be carried out on the track at the end of each free practice session.
Article 32.5 of the 2020/21 Formula E sporting regulations specifies that “any car on the track when the chequered flag is shown may, instead of entering the pits, proceed directly to the grid and make a practice start”.
Another part of the procedure dictates that “drivers carrying out a practice start should wait for others to carry out a practice start before moving into a grid position.
“It is the first time in my life I had a crash without seeing it coming. I was stopped and had a guy coming flat out behind me not braking” :: Jean-Eric Vergne
“Under no circumstances should a driver make a practice start if another car is still stationary in front of him on the same side of the grid.”
The practice starts were immediately aborted by race director Scot Elkins after the accident.
NIO333 has taken delivery of a spare monocoque from official spares supplier Spark Racing Technologies but a complete rebuild is reckoned to take three to four hours depending on whether it has wiring looms and uprights already assembled.
Turvey will also need stewards’ dispensation in order to be able to start the race as he will not take part in the qualifying session later this afternoon.
DS Techeetah has introduced its new 2021 car for this race, but Vergne’s example now requires a right rear corner change and will also take a new gearbox as a consequence of the crash. That would normally mean a 20-place grid penalty but Techeetah is able to use its allowance of one spare gearbox as the car is newly homologated for this race.
We push! pic.twitter.com/DSxmu9C8fI
— Jean-Eric Vergne (@JeanEricVergne) April 10, 2021
“It was a big shock and I think it is the first time in my life I had a crash without seeing it coming,” Vergne said.
“I was stopped and preparing for the practice start and had a guy coming flat out behind me not braking and hitting me.
“The good thing from my side is that I didn’t have time to get scared.
“Then obviously I felt I was fine and all the drivers were fine so I was a bit more worried about my car obviously because you know how valuable the time is in Formula E and track time is so important.”
Dennis’s BMW also incurred major damage to the left-hand-side after being impacted by Turvey. The Andretti team was optimistic that it would get a surprise chance to get Dennis back on track ahead of qualifying when practice two was interrupted and delayed by a long red flag because the chicane kerbing had come loose. But the eventual decision that the session wouldn’t be restarted put paid to that.
The BMW suffered three punctures, meaning his allocation of four fronts and rears is massively compromised for the rest of the day’s running.
Dennis was frustrated that there were no warning flags before the kink as drivers lined up to take the practice starts.
“To be honest, in his defence, there was really a poor effort from the marshals or whoever it was in terms of no yellow flag,” he said.
Practice 2 Results
|Pos||Name||Team||Car||Gap Next||Gap Leader||Best Time|
|1||Maximilian Günther||BMW i Andretti Motorsport||BMW iFE.21||1m39.517s|
|2||Nyck de Vries||Mercedes-Benz EQ||Mercedes-EQ Silver Arrow 02||+0.192s||+0.192s||1m39.709s|
|3||Stoffel Vandoorne||Mercedes-Benz EQ||Mercedes-EQ Silver Arrow 02||+0.191s||+0.383s||1m39.9s|
|4||Oliver Rowland||Nissan e.DAMS||Nissan IM02||+0.024s||+0.407s||1m39.924s|
|5||Nico Müller||Dragon / Penske Autosport||Penske EV-4||+0.037s||+0.444s||1m39.961s|
|6||Nick Cassidy||Envision Virgin Racing||Audi e-tron FE07||+0.081s||+0.525s||1m40.042s|
|7||Mitch Evans||Jaguar Racing||Jaguar I-Type 5||+0.19s||+0.715s||1m40.232s|
|8||Pascal Wehrlein||TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E||Porsche 99X Electric||+0.298s||+1.013s||1m40.53s|
|9||Sam Bird||Jaguar Racing||Jaguar I-Type 5||+0.465s||+1.478s||1m40.995s|
|10||António Félix da Costa||DS Techeetah||DS E-Tense FE21||+0.09s||+1.568s||1m41.085s|
|11||Sébastien Buemi||Nissan e.DAMS||Nissan IM02||+0.466s||+2.034s||1m41.551s|
|12||Lucas Di Grassi||Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler||Audi e-tron FE07||+0.14s||+2.174s||1m41.691s|
|13||Sérgio Sette Câmara||Dragon / Penske Autosport||Penske EV-4||+0.233s||+2.407s||1m41.924s|
|14||René Rast||Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler||Audi e-tron FE07||+0.103s||+2.51s||1m42.027s|
|15||Alex Lynn||Mahinda Racing||Mahindra M7Electro||+0.579s||+3.089s||1m42.606s|
|16||Alexander Sims||Mahinda Racing||Mahindra M7Electro||+0.656s||+3.745s||1m43.262s|
|17||Norman Nato||RokIT Venturi Racing||Mercedes-EQ Silver Arrow 02||+0.015s||+3.76s||1m43.277s|
|18||Edoardo Mortara||RokIT Venturi Racing||Mercedes-EQ Silver Arrow 02||+1.085s||+4.845s||1m44.362s|
|19||André Lotterer||TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E||Porsche 99X Electric||+6.737s||+11.582s||1m51.099s|
|20||Robin Frijns||Envision Virgin Racing||Audi e-tron FE07||+5.058s||+16.64s||1m56.157s|