Controversial start to new Formula E season

Weekend Racing Wrap

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The first Formula E race of the new season was red-flagged moments after it started and one of the first winners was disqualified.

Formula E

Races 1-2: Hong Kong

An interested follower of the new Formula E season was Lewis Hamilton, who took to Instagram to lambast driving standards in the series last weekend. This was swiftly deleted when he discovered he’d been watching footage of the championship’s inaugural race three years ago.

There was even more controversy in the double-header opening of the fourth running of the championship. The season was barely a minute old when the red flags flew after a first-lap skirmish around the Hong Kong track blocked one of the corners.

Sam Bird won the restarted race after passing pole sitter Jean-Eric Vergne, despite picking up a penalty for crashing his car in the pits during his mid-race car swap. The Hong Kong pit lane proved so short he was able to keep his lead despite being only nine seconds ahead of Vergne when he came in.

A fault with the start lights meant race two began behind the Safety Car. Daniel Abt won on the road after Felix Rosenqvist spun away his pole position advantage on lap one and Edoardo Mortara threw the lead away with two laps to go. However Abt’s victory was taken away from him after his car’s FIA inspection stickers were found not to match those on his paperwork, and the win went to Rosenqvist.

What did Hamilton make of that? We may find out in 2020.

World Touring Car Championship

Races 19-20: Qatar

Volvo’s Thed Bjork clinched the 2017 WTCC championship after rival Norbert Michelisz was hampered by brake problems on his Honda in qualifying. Tom Chilton won the opening race from the partially reversed grid and Esteban Guerrieri claimed honours in the main event. Afterwards Bjork paid tribute to Tiago Monteiro, who led the championship until he was injured in a testing crash at mid-season.

Over to you

What racing action did you watch last weekend? And what have been your favourite races of this year? Let us know in the comments.

That’s all from Weekend Racing Wrap for 2017 – the series will return next year. In the meantime you can review all this year’s racing action and more from previous seasons here.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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38 comments on “Controversial start to new Formula E season”

  1. The FE race was pretty exciting I think. These cars can follow one another and the need to conserve energy means that drivers won’t want to go unnecessarily quickly and use too much energy which generally leads to smaller gaps. Plus, with little aero bits that could fly off, drivers are much more aggressive than what we see in F1. I highly recommend this series for great action!

    What did Hamilton make of that? We may find out in 2020.

    Hilarious reference right there btw.

    1. Hilarious comment. It was worse than the donkey derby they’d put on World Of Sport if the wrestling had finished

      1. Yeah FE has a ways to go. They are under powered. The drivers are driving like F2 drivers as they try maneuvers to make up for lack of pulling power. Lots of dive bombing. I almost felt like I was watching kids driving go-carts.

        1. Yep, felt the same way. It was like watching an indoor rental go-karting event with all the banging and pushing. The ridiculous track layout didn’t help either; the over tight hairpin and über narrow Chicane in particular.

          1. Spot on!
            Here’s a tip tough, watch the Youtube clips at 1,25X speed, makes it look more like racing and makes the commentators sound really excited.

    2. the need to conserve energy means that drivers won’t want to go unnecessarily quickly

      God forbid.

  2. @keithcollantine

    What did Hamilton make of that? We may find out in 2020.


  3. Accidentally flicked on to FE, oooh boy! Makes the current f1 cars look like the spitting bucking monsters of the late 1980’s. Terrible track HK, admittedly, but cars were banging er mudguards at 20mph, the overall top speeds were underwhelming and overtaking seems to consist of barging and pushing like your kid brother the first time he uses a race sim.

    Racing generally is in a bad place at the moment with gizmo’s and computers having way too much influence and FE is just the end result of that and what happens when corporates and accountants take over.

    F1 needs to be very careful who it gets into bed with.

  4. I want to like FE but the car noise is like finger nails on a blackboard to me, horrible highpitched screeching.

    1. I was thinking at best, golf carts – at worst, dental drills. Somewhere in there. I don’t know how it makes sense that we all loved the sound of that screaming swarm of bees where I felt like I was losing my hearing even with earplugs (in the echoing grandstands of Austin 2012). But we did. It was awesome.

  5. Did Sam Bird get a penalty for crashing in the pit lane? I was led to understand the penalty was for changing cars outside the garage.

    1. No, it was for the collision. If such penalties were given out, Di Grassi would have been given the same thing.

    2. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
      4th December 2017, 18:06

      Yes it was for changing outside the box. “This must take place in their allocated garage or dedicated slot in the pitlane”. DS said they would have appealed had it not been such a clear cut violation.

    3. Sam Bird got 2 penalties, first one was a drive through for changing cars outside the garage and second was a 10 place grid penalty for the second race which was for dangerous driving in the pitlane (aka the crash).

      1. Crash…as in he ran a guy over next to his garage! My wife and I were wondering about how many grid spot penalties if he put the guy in the hospital vs one where the guy walked away from it. It would have been funny if it wasn’t so scary.

  6. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
    4th December 2017, 11:16

    My biggest problem with Formula E is the whole inelegance of the thing. Maybe if the series didn’t spend the whole weekend going on about how cool it is, maybe it actually would be quite cool. As it is, it feels so contrived, so forced; be it the ‘celebrities’ shoved in front of the camera to talk about sustainability or the heavily scripted pre-show pieces.

    On-track, the rather absurd sight of single-seaters crashing about on ugly and comically-bumpy street circuits has little to offer the petrolhead viewer.

  7. Interesting to see differences in the way highlights are presented. FE is quite well made but WTCC ones are awful: poor background music with no engine sounds, no comments, driver names, just a succession of slow motions.

    1. It’s probably for the better there were no commentators in the WTCC highlights. Watching the full races, the commentators sounded amazingly bored.

  8. I think electric race cars was always going to be an inevitability but I hate how Formula e insists on racing on terrible street circuits which often result in more bumper cars than actual racing.

    1. This will be a necessity until the battery technology improves enough to allow them to run on full circuits.

  9. F1 is finished the cars are barely audible!!! Let’s have the NA V8/V10/V12’s back or I’m never watching again!!! (Etc.)

    Meanwhile, Formula E is more popular than ever.

    1. RogerRichards
      4th December 2017, 14:57

      @psynrg Meanwhile, Formula E is more popular than ever.

      except it isn’t. it’s tv ratings have been going down each year and they have been giving tickets away for free to make stands look full since the tail end of season 1.

    2. Assume he’s being sarcastic. I’d only take someone to FE if I really hated them, really HATED. Not just disliked a bit

  10. Would Go-carts be faster than Formula E, just asking out of curiosity?

    1. FE cars are about as quick as F4 cars.

    2. Depends on the go-kart: a 250cc superkart can reach about 250 kph, so they’re much faster.

      1. FE cars are capped to 225kph so the 250cc karts aren’t that much faster.

  11. I managed to catch the second FE race due to the fact that it came on straight after “Milkshake” (the kids TV segment on Channel 5) ended and my wife didn’t bother to change the channel. I was quite shocked that she was actually quite interested in what FE was all about, I found myself having to explain a fair bit about the series, how the cars work and why the manufacturers were all getting excited by it. That said, I had to laugh when, after about 10 laps of the race, my wife said “I thought you said these drivers were all pretty good, they can’t go seem 2 corners without crashing into each other”…

    1. Same here @geemac, Peppa Pig and Thomas the Tank Engine were certainly livened up by Formula E gate-crashing Milkshake. My toddler didn’t agree so I managed to get a few laps in on Saturday.

  12. Jonathan Parkin
    4th December 2017, 14:19

    Can someone explain to me like I’m a three year old how Daniel Abt’s disqualification happened. As I understand from the facts I have read the FIA supplies (or applies themselves) stickers for certain components that have barcodes on them. The number on the barcode is then written or typed by someone in the Audi team on a passport. Essentially because an error was made by the individual responsible and the number didn’t match the driver is excluded. Is this correct?

    If it is I do find it extraordinarily petty. Yes we have to have rules and you must abide by them, but we can take it way too far. Take Golf for instance where the number of offences that results in exclusion is so long I’m surprised there is any golfer left at the end of a tournament to get the trophy

    1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
      4th December 2017, 18:12

      Audi ABT have been guilty of a number of these violations in the past 3 years so I don’t agree that they should get the benefit of the doubt. They even cost DiGrassi the title in season 2 with their meddling. On another note, now that it’s a factory Audi operation, time to get Daniel Abt our of that car and put factory driver Robin Frijns in instead.

  13. RogerRichards
    4th December 2017, 14:58

    the new graphics for formula e are terrible. the font is too small, the color background & fonts on some of the graphics make them hard to read, the 2 logos in the bottom right corner look silly and the way they display there telemetry with this fullscreen hud thing during onboard cams is ridiculous.

    1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
      4th December 2017, 18:14

      Also when a driver makes a pass their name flashes up blue on the timing screen, not a bad feature, but when half the field pits the thing goes mad! Needs looked at.

  14. FE is just not exciting in the least. It’s hilarious when people praise how they can follow each other so closely, yes but it resembles a slightly brisk traffic jam and overtaking consists of bad computer game racing manoeuvres such as shoving one up the inside and rubbing the barriers (or getting stuck in them in the case of Loterrer) until someone decides they’ve had enough.

    Meanwhile the pits look like a bunch of catering tents and don’t even get me started on the ‘dramatic’ background noise during replays and race starts.

    Awful awful form of motorsport and barely worthy of the name, I watched race 1 to see if they had made any improvements but they haven’t. Thats my FE fix until next season when i’ll do the same thanks.

  15. Formula E

    Where drivers go who cant suceed in upper formulas. Its so different from most automobile races and although the cars look cool they seem like they are barely moving.
    This series is trying to make silk purse out of a sows ear.
    Sorry but Formula E is so slow and too quiet and that will become the end unless changes are made to the series rules.
    Fans are not keen to watch car racing that lacks the sights and sounds of petrol race cars.
    I believe the series strongly needs to reinvent itself for any chance at being around in five years

  16. Formula E is the PC version of racing.

  17. @keithcollantine

    Did you just win your own comment of the day?

    I sense a ringer!

  18. “A fault with the start lights meant race two began behind the Safety Car” Seriously?
    Have we really forgotten how to start a race with a green flag…?

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