The Diriyah E-Prix weekend was not without controversy, with some drivers complaining that recovery vehicles were used inappropriately.
Jean Eric Vergne and several Formula E drivers have chastised the FIA for race control decisions made at the Diriyah E-Prix weekend.
Following the circumstances of Saturday’s race, which saw Alexander Sims forced to withdraw, Vergne was outspoken on social media. The Safety Car was deployed after Sims collided with a barrier in his Mahindra, and a recovery van was stationed on the circuit to collect the car.
The race came to a halt when the Safety Car was deployed. Vergne later said on Twitter that the encounter had left him “shocked.”
“Still shocked to see how the end of the race was handled,” the Frenchman wrote.
“A crain on track, a Safety Car stopping right before it in a blind corner resulting in cars piling up, no informations given to us… Seems like people don’t learn from past mistakes.”
Vergne did not elaborate on his allusion to “past mistakes,” but the deployment of recovery vehicles has long been a factor in driver safety in all racing classes.
Jules Bianchi, a Formula One driver, was severely injured in an accident at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix. In wet circumstances, Bianchi slipped off the track and collided with a crane that was collecting Adrian Sutil’s Sauber, which had crashed in the same spot one lap earlier. However, In July 2015, Bianchi passed away.
Robin Frijns, a fellow Formula E driver, spoke of the “quite dangerous” nature of the incident related to having to maneuver the recovery vehicle.
“Obviously I was behind Edo [Edoardo Mortara] and suddenly the Safety Car stopped,” Frijns said.
“I just hit him and then 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.”
“I think it was not really well communicated in a way but for me we had quite enough space even if we drive over the marbles, which wasn’t ideal as everybody was trying to clean up the tyres because they were thinking that the Safety Car would come in after two laps or so.”
“But I think the Safety Car was in a very awkward position to get it out of the way.”
The recovery vehicle on track startled Scot Elkins, Race Director of Formula E, and the fact that he was dealing with this scenario meant he wasn’t able to address the situation with the teams and drivers over the radio.
“Obviously, it’s not on purpose, and obviously there is a lot of communication during qualifying and we talked to everyone,” Elkins said.
“But I think the circumstances were that I was surprised by something and we were trying to deal with it, as opposed to going on [radio] air and telling everybody.”
“That’s a little bit of a mea culpa that I’ll take, I just got involved doing other things and didn’t convey the information.”