FIA Formula E race director Scot Elkins insisted his team took “all safety measures into account” during the late Safety Car in the Diriyah E-Prix.
However, there were concerning scenes when a telehandler vehicle sent to recover Sims’s car appeared to block the circuit, causing the Safety Car and the field following it to bunch up suddenly and leading to several drivers hitting cars in front. Robert Frijns later described the incident as “quite dangerous”.
Then, as Sims’s vehicle was being recovered, cars appeared to pass alarmingly close to the dangling Mahindra, with Mitch Evans’s car driving past while the suspended car was in line with the Halo safety device on his Jaguar.
Asked by RaceFans about the late Safety Car and the decision not to red flag the race, Elkins explained that he did not expect the process of recovering the Mahindra to take as long as it did.
“It should have been very smooth,” explained Elkins. “We know where the equipment is, we know where the incident is and then we know where we’re taking the car after we retrieve it.
“In this case, we had equipment at turn five, we had an incident between turns seven and six and we had a hole at turn eight. So, really, it should’ve been very simple to just come out, pick it up and move it and drop it off and go back to racing – and that was the intention. And again, based on our historical references and what we’ve seen in the past, that should have taken about four minutes and then it didn’t, and that was the issue.”
Addressing the concerns raised on social media about the potential dangers of drivers passing close to a stricken car as it was being lifted off the circuit, Elkins insisted that he and his team had taken all reasonable steps to recover the car safely.
“I think everybody would notice that the Safety Car slowed down to under 10km/h going through there, almost to the point of where the entire field stopped,” Elkins said. “So clearly, we’re taking care of what we’re doing there.
“But, again, as a street circuit, it’s narrow. It’s difficult to do that. But we were taking all of those safety measures into account – again, really slowing the safety car down really, really slowly. That’s probably the one error – of not giving everybody a heads up that the safety of slowing down, because it did back up a little bit and was a little bit discombobulated. But it surely wasn’t anything that we were doing in any way that we wouldn’t normally do on a street circuit.”
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