Eventual Mexico City Formula E race winner Jake Dennis had the bizarre experience of having to contest the semi-final and final of the qualifying duels with a broken front wing on his Andretti Porsche.
It didn’t stop him securing the front row start that was the platform for his run to a dominant victory, but left Dennis angry at the officials for not allowing him to change the damaged part.
Dennis inflicted the damage on the front of his Porsche in the Foro Sol stadium section by hitting one of the marker bollards which tore off his angled Gen3 car front endplate during his quarter-final duel with Pascal Wehrlein.
He subsequently drove into the parc ferme area of the pitlane presuming that he would be allowed to change the nose section.
Changes to the car can be made between sessions or in a session but they cannot be worked upon in parc ferme conditions – which apply for qualifying. As per article 34.1 of the 2023 sporting regulations: ‘all cars will be deemed to be in parc ferme from five minutes before the start of the first group until at least 30 minutes after the official results are signed by the race director’.
Dennis managed to defeat McLaren’s Jake Hughes in the semi-final but then felt the consequences of the missing wing section played a part in the errors that allowed Lucas di Grassi to beat him to pole in the final.
“I’m just a bit disappointed with the whole situation,” said an incredulous Dennis after qualifying.
“They made me go out with half a front wing.
“The cars are already hard enough to drive and then they send me out with the front wing flapping around.
“Then obviously it’s just a snowball effect for me and you’re literally going into the fight one handed, so I don’t understand why they didn’t give me a new front wing for safety reasons. I’m pretty disappointed with the officials with that.
“The thing’s flapping around all over the place. I can see it going down a straight-line all over the place.
“For such safety reasons I don’t know how they let me go out like that. So, I’m pretty disappointed.”
Competing cars are placed in parc ferme conditions after their duels before then being released back onto the track.
Without any precedents from last season under similar circumstances it is unclear why a safety call was not made on Dennis’s car.
Single-seaters are susceptible to damaged front wings folding underneath the floor of the cars, rendering them uncontrollable. It remains unclear under the regulations what checks are enforced if a car has been damaged to the point of being a safety concern during a duel but is able to run again in the next one.
The Race understands that no one from the FIA inspected the car after the damage was inflicted and therefore the team was effectively required to either let Dennis out with the wing in that condition or risk a black flag for changing the component.
It is believed that the Avalanche Andretti team approached the FIA technical team regarding the matter during the session.
The Race has approached the FIA for comment on the matter but is yet to receive a response.