“If you crash, I don’t see how you can then be on the podium,” says Bird

Formula E

Posted on

| Written by

Jaguar Formula E driver Sam Bird says he is “struggling” to accept many drivers involved in the heavy crash in the New York EPrix were credited with their positions before the red flag.

A heavy downpour in the final ten minutes of the first Formula E race in New York led to multiple drivers at the front of the field aquaplaning off the track along the back straight and into the barriers at turn six, including race leader Nick Cassidy, second placed Lucas di Grassi, Stoffel Vandoorne and Edoardo Mortara. Third placed Robin Frijns managed to avoid the walls and inherited the lead, while there was a secondary crash behind him when Pascal Wehrlein’s damaged Porsche stopped out of turn seven with damage and was hit by Bird, Jake Dennis and Nyck de Vries.

The race was soon stopped with a red flag, with Frijns leading ahead of Mortara, Mitch Evans and Nyck de Vries in fourth. However, after a lengthy delay, race director Scot Elkins announced that the race would not be resumed, with the results taken from the end of the penultimate lap – leaving Cassidy as the winner ahead of Di Grassi and Frijns back down in third.

Formula E sporting regulations state that if races cannot be resumed after being suspended under a red flag, the race results “will be taken at the end of the penultimate lap before the lap during which the signal to suspend the race was given.” Speaking after the race was ended, Bird said he felt the race being abandoned had denied him an opportunity to fight for the win at a potential restart.

“I’m disappointed because, obviously, if it restarted, I had the chance to win the race – and then it goes back two laps,” Bird told the Formula E world feed coverage after the race.

“The rules are the rules and the people up front, they were doing the best job. But, for me, if you crash, I don’t see how you can then be on the podium or get more points. So I’m struggling with that right now.”

Bird said that scoring points after being credited with ninth in the final results was of little consolation to him.

“I’ve got points in the last, like, four races, but I’ve got very, very little points,” he said. “So I was looking forward to getting some big ones today. Obviously, that’s not the case and we move on to tomorrow.”

Formula E

Browse all Formula E articles

Author information

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

26 comments on ““If you crash, I don’t see how you can then be on the podium,” says Bird”

  1. I guess Sam Bird is new to motorsports and hasn’t ever heard of this rule that’s been around for ages. How strange.

    1. I believe the rule was “The one who caused the red flag will get DNF, for the rest, the results return 2 laps back”. The only place it was the other way was Macau GP with it’s own special rules. I didn’t know Formula E adopted those as well

      1. Michal, the DNF clause you suggested would be good, but I’ve not heard of it being used anywhere. The daftest red flag race I ever saw was 2003 Brazil. Towards the end of the race, Webber had crashed and brought out the safety car. Alonso was busy talking on the radio and didn’t notice Webber’s rear wheel lying on the track and crashed into it, bringing out the red flag. Fisichella had recently overtaken Raikkonen and was leading the race, but in the countback, the race stewards awarded the race to Raikonen, Fisichella second, and Alonso third. After the race, Eddie Jordan continued to protest that Fisichella had been leading, and when they checked the tapes, the stewards discovered they’d been looking at the wrong lap. They changed the result in the records, but Fisichella’s first ever GP win had him standing on the second step thinking he’d been beaten, and the person who caused the red flag, Alonso, awarded third place but wasn’t on the podium at all because he was receiving medical treatment.

        1. Tommy Scragend
          16th July 2022, 21:24

          I remember that race and at the time I said Fisichella was the winner. I couldn’t understand how they could get it wrong. Was vindicated in the end when they changed the result. If some random guy watching it on the TV knows the rules, how can the authorities not know?

          It always baffles me in F1 how when something unusual happens, no one seems to have a clue what the rules are.

          1. From memory, I think the issue was that they weren’t entirely clear what lap Fisichella was on at the time the red flag was shown, particularly as he had gone into the pits once the Safety Car was deployed for Webber’s accident (just ahead of Alonso’s race-ending crash). So it wasn’t immediately obvious which lap they should count back to.

            The clause that the driver who causes a red flag is counted as a DNF exists in a number of series, but not F1 – and not FE either, it would seem.

          2. Andy @red-andy that rings a bell. It was almost like the stewards had not been watching the race. Like Tommy said, from the TV pictures it seemed clear. Given the uncertainty, and that the race had finished early, you’d have thought they’d have taken the time to double check it all. I remember rooting for Fisi after that to win another race somewhere because it would have been tragic if he’d retired without ever getting his top step moment of glory.

          3. If some random guy watching it on the TV knows the rules, how can the authorities not know?

            At least the FIA are consistent in that regard.

        2. Thanks for correcting me, Alan. I’m confident this rule existed in couple of series including GT World Cup, Moto GP (and it’s feeders), WTCC, and Speedway GP. I’m watching F1 from 2006 so I missed the Brazilian GP, but when you mentioned it I remember reading about it now.
          I would still prefere this rule to exist elsewhere since it’s sort of a satisfaction for drivers who “survived”. Also this rule can technically be abused, right?

          1. Michal (@terrion) I’m glad to see another speedway fan on here. Yes, as long as I can remember, speedway has excluded riders who cause a race to be stopped. I didn’t realise they did the same in Moto GP.

            I was watching a speedway match last week and thinking about the difference between the crowds there and at the recent F1. One of the visiting team riders overcooked it and wheelied into the side of the home town favourite, taking both riders heavily into the fence. The crowd obviously went “ooh argh” and all that when the accident happened but were quiet and respectful while the riders were being treated on track, and gave the visiting rider a huge round of applause when he was able to get to his feet and walk back to the pits. Yes, there is a lot of rivalry and banter at speedway matches, but not the acrimony that we’ve started seeing in F1.

      2. No also, because sometimes drivers faced inevitable crash which is not their fault.

    2. @sjaakfoo, the rule may have been around for ages, but it is still a stupid rule, and way behind the times. The idea that they have to go back to the last time the cars passed in front of the race marshal on the start finish straight is archaic and ignores modern telemetry and TV cameras which are monitoring every inch of the track.

      When they red flagged the race, the cars still on track didn’t just stop dead. They slow down, no overtaking, and make their way back to the pit lane. If they’d called a SC instead of red flag, the same cars would have continued at the same speed and still with no overtaking, but then the lap would have counted and the cars which had crashed would be out of the race. I agree with Sam Bird, that it is absurd that you can crash while leading, or even shortly after you’ve been overtaken by several cars, be in no position to continue after crashing, and yet win the race because the race director pretends you never made a mistake.

      1. Yes, I agree with this.

    3. He clearly states that he understands the rules (are the rules), but he understandably ‘struggles’ with the consequences.

      I understand him; it would be better IMO if they did like F1/Spa and run a few laps behind the safety car.

    4. It is also the rule that whoever pays best wins.

    5. I was surprised as well as every motorsport I’ve competed in and most I’ve watched the rule is that you must be running at the time of the red flag. The cars in the wall weren’t as it was a FCY when they crashed not a red flag.

  2. I totally agree with Bird. The driver(s) causing a red flag shouldn’t be able to win the race. Even on countback they could have been given a penalty (for example a 20s penalty like a drive through) for causing the red flag.

    1. @silfen i agree but having watched the highlights, I’m not sure any driver caused the red flag. It appears it was all the weather, aquaplaning and not being able to see other cars. I was a bit mythed at first but being pragmatic, i think they probably got it right.

      1. @antznz, I’ve just watched the highlights of the crash and whilst it looked pretty bad, I don’t think I could agree with you when you said “not sure any driver caused the red flag”. It wasn’t like the road collapsed, or a 250 pound beaver ran across the track. The drivers were already under full course yellow and not racing. Some of them negotiated the corner, others were going too fast for the conditions.

        But regardless of that, thanks to GPS and sensors and TV and on-board cameras, they knew exactly where each car was on the circuit immediately prior to the start of the crashes, so how can they possibly justify an archaic rule of going back to the positions two laps previously?

        1. I’ve said in other posts that F1 needs to use technology better for policing (especially automated track limits) and agree that all forms of motorsports should embrace technology more, especially a sport where technology is a fundamental part of the sports existence! So I’m definitely agreeing on this part.

          I think in this particular instance, the cars that didn’t crash had extra warning because those in front did. Several lost control on the straight so it seems to have nothing to do with driver ability. I could be wrong here but it the full course yellow appears to come because these incidents took place, not before? It was hard yo tell from highlights. I might need to relook! This menas others approaching had more time to slow, explaining why some mananged that corner and others didn’t. Or put another way, the weather event seems to have created conditions that made the cars uncontrollable. Without the yellow there could have been many more cars piled up?

          Like I said, I was against the decision originally and I’m not 100 % this is the right call. Mitch is my guy so I’d definitely perfer to see him on the podium! So i definitely have a reason to be biased against the decision. Having driven a single seater in the wet, i know there are limits to what they can tolerate and my impression is the rain was simply beyond the limits of the cars that were the first to arrive at racing speed at that point of the track. I think this decision is fair but happy to change my mind if my interpretation of events is wrong!

          1. Antz, I’ve only seen a highlight reel but it seemed race control announces “Full course yellow begins in 3, 2, 1” and then some seconds after that the first car goes off and the accident begins. I thought they pre-announce yellow for degenerating track conditions, but for an accident it would be an immediate yellow, or in this case, an immediate red flag because cars are parked on track and the track is blocked.#

            With full course yellow, I’m not sure who or what is determining the speed of the cars or their separation, but it appeared a deep puddle was causing aquaplaning, and some cars were going slow enough to recover, whilst others surf-boarded all the way to the site of the accident, some slowed enough to come to a halt only for others to run into the back of them and shunt them into the accident.

  3. Somethings never change. A crashed car won the 1992 Bathurst 1000 race while the second place car crossed the line intact. 30 years on people are still struggling with it.

  4. I totally agree. Never understood Silverstone 2021. And it caused a lot of toxicity going forward underlining the situation was remarkable and not regulated well.

  5. The rule as it stands makes perfect logical sense and adding extra variables wouldn’t solve anything. This is a rule for extreme situations that only very rarely occur and if there was a restart those who crashed wouldn’t have taken it.

  6. Electroball76
    17th July 2022, 12:56

    If you land a knockout punch after the bell has rung, it doesn’t make you the winner

    1. Electroball, agreed, but this is more like one boxer being on the canvas and half way through being counted out when someone sets the fire alarm off so they abandon the match and say the boxer who ended the bout unconscious and obviously beaten wins on points.

  7. Jonathan Parkin
    17th July 2022, 13:02

    But if I understand it Bird wouldn’t have been able to take the restart if there was one because he couldn’t reach the start/finish line under his own power because he had crashed also

Comments are closed.