Techeetah Wants Harsher Bird Penalty After Formula E Clash


Bird won the event on the road after clashing with long-time leader Andre Lotterer on the penultimate lap, which left the Techeetah driver with a puncture and suspension damage.

The Envision Virgin Racing driver was given a five-second time penalty that dropped him to sixth in the final results and promoted Venturi’s Edoardo Mortara to the race win.

But, among other concerns, Techeetah felt that it was not a sufficient punishment given the resulting damage left Lotterer 14th and last of the classified runners.

Techeetah’s sporting and technical advisor Pedro de la Rosa and team manager David Clark attended a stewards’ hearing along with Virgin team manager Leon Price and driver advisor Alex Yoong, some four hours after the race in Hong Kong had finished.

During the meeting, ex-Formula 1 driver de la Rosa argued that Bird’s five-second penalty “was not severe enough”, according to an FIA bulletin.

He also claimed Bird had “touched” Lotterer’s car “several times prior to the incident”, while Lotterer “generally maintained a consistent race line throughout the race” and did not “brake any earlier on the lap of the incident than the previous laps”.

De la Rosa also pointed out that Lotterer had led the previous 28 laps before the collision took place and that Bird was therefore “aware of the braking points and race line that had been used by car #36 [Lotterer] as he was following him for the preceding laps”, and that Lotterer “as the leader of the race has the right to choose the braking line”.

After pointing out that Lotterer retired following the contact, the stewards noted that de la Rosa felt “the imposition of the penalty was insufficient and as a result generates a bad precedent for other drivers, being getting away with a five second penalty for a collision”.

The bulletin also notes that de la Rosa suggested “the penalty encouraged other drivers to do the same but earlier in the race to recover a time penalty” and that Techeetah would not have protested had Lotterer been able to continue.

As part of the protest, Techeetah cited Jean-Eric Vergne receiving a five-second time penalty for his clash with NIO’s Tom Dillmann during the same event, which “they as a team considered this a fair penalty as Car 25 [Vergne] did touch another driver and passed him, however both were able to continue”.

Vergne was also handed a 10-second stop and go penalty for cutting the Turns 3/4 chicane and failing to come to a stop.

The protest bulletin stated that “the penalty for cutting of a Chicane had been increased from previous events to a 10 second stop and go penalty at the request of the Teams in the Championship and that as a result the penalty was out of proportion”.

The final point of the bulletin regarding de la Rosa’s initially arguments noted that Techeetah is “generally concerned with the amount of contact allowed in the current Season of Formula E with the current car”.

Vergne had said ahead of the race in Hong Kong that the number of clashes in recent FE races were “not motorsport”.

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