Antonio Felix da Costa, Techeetah, Diriyah E-Prix, Race 2, 2022

Formula E ‘lucky’ crane incidents were not more severe, drivers say

Formula E

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Formula E drivers have expressed concerns after two alarming incidents involving a crane on track during the second Diriyah E-Prix.

Alexander Sims crashed his Mahindra in the narrow first sector of the circuit with just under ten minutes remaining in the race, leading to the Safety Car being deployed to help neutralise the race to recover Sims’s car.

However, drivers were suddenly forced to stop on the circuit after a telehandler vehicle got in the way of the Safety Car in front of race leader Edoardo Mortara, forcing them to slow down and causing a chain reaction in the field which led to several drivers colliding at low speed. Then, drivers were seen passing close to the Mahindra in the air as it was being lifted off the circuit.

Double Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne expressed his disapproval of how the incident was handled by race control in a post on social media on Sunday.

“Still shocked to see how the end of the race was handled,” Vergne posted. “A crain [sic] on track, a safety car stopping right before it in a blind corner resulting in cars piling up, no information given to us… seems like people don’t learn from past mistakes.”

Nissan Edams driver Maximilian Guenther told RaceFans that the sport had been “lucky” nothing more serious had happened with the telehandler on the circuit.

“It seemed a bit unsafe, because the car was moving so much,” Guenther said. “We tried to obviously keep enough space to the car, but as well, we’re not going fully through the dust on track, because there was debris and everything in this dirty part of the track, so you don’t want to risk like a puncture or something.

“On the other end, you have this car swinging around, which was kind of very special. So, luckily, nothing happened there.”

Speaking after the race in which he finished second, Envision driver Robin Frijns said the way the recovery of Sims’s car was handled was “quite dangerous”.

“I think it was quite dangerous because obviously I was behind Edo [Mortara] and suddenly the Safety Car stopped,” Frijns explained. “I just hit him and the only thing I hear behind me is carbon fibre cracking. Obviously the crane was in the middle of the track and the Safety Car had to stop, but I think it was not really well communicated in a way.

Race winner Mortara described the moment when the Safety Car arrived at the accident scene with the telehandler in the middle of the circuit.

“To be honest, it’s the first time that I’ve seen a crane in front of me trying to manoeuvre in the middle of the race,” Mortara said.

“The guy came out, basically, and he was pretty bad at manouevring his crane, so… [laughs]. I actually found it a little bit funny at the time, but obviously for the guys behind it’s not funny because they are now coming with quite some speed.”

FIA race director Scot Elkins told RaceFans that his team “were taking all of those safety measures into account” during the incident.

“Again, really slowing the safety car down really, really slowly,” Elkins said. “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.”

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Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....
Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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  • 13 comments on “Formula E ‘lucky’ crane incidents were not more severe, drivers say”

    1. The entire weekend was so amateurish. The racing was the usual, unprofessional hit and overtake. The stewards chose to investigate nothing with cars outbraking themselves, going outside track limits and then crashing in to overtake.

      The broadcast was terrible with the editor missing every incident, audio cutting off and hardly any info on energy for a series that only relies on energy management for entertainment. The marshals were atrocious, taking nearly 20% of the race time to recover a single car and doing so in a really dangerous manner.

      This is in addition to the questionable choice of location for a green series with focus on humanity. Really don’t see Formula E being taken seriously any time soon.

      1. The second sentence of your first paragraph sounds exa tly like a classic Mac verstappen move lol.

        1. Is that what McDonald’s are offering now? A MacVerstappen?

          1. Only in The Netherlands…

            1. With the secret ingredient: Salty tears from Hamilton fans.

            2. Ah yes the usual, I can’t deal with that lets divert and talk about something else I can handle

    2. I usually applaud FE and Scot Elkins in particular with the way they’re usually very open and on it with regards to relaying information to all drivers. Loads in the past we’ve heard him on the radio broadcasting to all drivers simultaneously, so its a bit bizarre that such an out of the ordinary event like this crane incident gave no warning to the drivers.
      You get the feeling that the crane may have entered the circuit without permission as it was an odd “gap” to go for rather than waiting until after the full train had passed.

      1. Jack (@jackisthestig)
        30th January 2022, 20:32

        If you no longer go for a gap, you are no longer a crane driver

    3. i see, the new FIA rules 2022 in action as requested.

    4. Is Masi already at work?

      1. No, just the new instruction for the race director. To show they (fia) learned a lot in 2021.

    5. I don’t like to criticise marshals too much, they are the lifeblood of motorsport and rarely if ever have a right of reply … but that was absolutely shambolic. I don’t think you can blame the race director, he is entitled to assume his marshals are at least capable of operating the equipment they’ve been entrusted with.

      The standards are so poor, it just goes to show why top-level motorsport should be nowhere near this country, and nor should Formula E.

    Comments are closed.