Robin Frijns and Oliver Rowland were at odds over their early race clash in Formula E’s season-opener in Diriyah, with the pair describing it as being “t-boned” and “a bit of fisticuffs” respectively.
They collided several times while disputing ninth position in the first half of the race before Frijns tagged the back of the Mahindra M8Electro and spun Rowland backwards into the Turn 16 barriers.
The retaliatory move triggered the only safety car of the race and saw Frijns shuffled down the field before he was slapped with a drive-through penalty for the shunt.
Rowland was subsequently given a three-place grid drop for tomorrow’s race for his part in the exchange before the final contact instigated by the Envision Racing-entered Audi.
Frijns was unrepentant after the incident which he squarely laid the blame on the Mahindra driver saying that he was “t-boned”.
“I needed to do a cover off in Turn 1, which I did, then he was behind me and tried to overtake at Turn 14 and he just basically t-boned me,” Frijns told The Race.
“It is many times the same guy (Rowland) and it’s also the first race of the season and it is the beginning of the race and then he does a move which is so aggressive in a corner which no one overtakes ever, as far as I know, so yeah, I fired him off.
“I’m all in for hard racing but I’m not going to t-bone anyone to get through, it’s just not how it should be done.
“I’m a bit sick of it that every time in Formula E they use the sidepods just to get people out of the way, and I’m not that type of guy and hopefully he doesn’t do it again. on me. It’s not how it should be done.”
Rowland was summoned to race control for his part in the accident in what The Race understands was a forthright exchange between the new Mahindra driver and the stewards.
As well as the three-place grid drop for Saturday’s race, Rowland was also issued with a further two penalty points on his licence. This was added to the penalty point he already received in qualifying for being adjudged to have hindered Porsche’s Pascal Wehrlein by going under the 48km/h minimum pit-lane speed.
Rowland, who took an early first attack mode, explained that he had a good run on Frijns through Turns 12 and 13 but went into the following sweep of Turn 14 “a bit late.”
“But he just turned normally like he didn’t even see me at all, so we had a bit of fisticuffs in the middle and then I got the run on the way out and he then just nailed me,” Rowland told The Race.
“He was clearly just pissed off, but then I took three places (penalty) for tomorrow as well. So I DNF and take three places tomorrow and he gets the drive-through.”
“I was on the inside, I was clear. I’ve already been to see the stewards and I told them that.
“The thing is I understand they want to clean the racing up, but at some point, we just can’t pass.
“If someone comes on the inside of me, it’s OK to just turn straight to the inside because they’ll take the penalty, which is wrong. If someone is on the inside you give them the corner.”
While Rowland retired on the spot, Frijns was able to continue although with what he initially thought to be a damaged toe-link. He took the flag in an eventual 16th position.