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Mercedes’ de Vries explains why he lost maiden FE podium

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Jan 19, 2020, 4:06 PM

Mercedes driver Nyck de Vries lost a maiden Formula E podium in Santiago because the battery coolant his team added to his car ahead of the race was too cold.

De Vries surged up the order in the late stages of Saturday’s sweltering race in the Chilean capital – which was won by BMW Andretti driver Maximilian Gunther – and crossed the line in third place, just ahead of Jaguar's Mitch Evans.

But the 2019 Formula 2 champion was immediately shuffled back to fifth as he had been handed an in-race five-second penalty for what was initially described as a “technical infringement”.

The relevant stewards document later revealed there had been a breach of Article 27.9 of FE’s sporting rules, which relates to the instructions given by FIA battery supplier McLaren Applied Technologies regarding – among other things – minimum battery coolant temperatures.

“We had a battery infringement ahead of the race,” de Vries told Motorsport.com. “Everyone is trying to cool down the battery as much as possible before the race starts and unfortunately we just went below the threshold. [It’s a] big shame – should have been a first podium on track but it happens, everyone makes mistakes, I make mistakes, so it's part of the job. 

“Pushed to P5, but nevertheless, I'm satisfied with our race. We did a good job - at the beginning we were struggling a little bit in terms of pace and positioning [de Vries fell from an eighth-place grid spot to run as low as 11th on lap five of what would become a 40-tour race before his late recovery].

“But from mid-race onward our pace was really good and we came through nicely. We had good communication so I'm pleased with our job in the end.”

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More penalties applied

Four other drivers were also had penalties for technical rule infringements during the third – and possibly final – Santiago race.

NIO 333 driver Ma Qing Hua also received an in race five-second penalty, but for “not [respecting] the power availability, according to Article 8.1 of the FIA supplier battery software implementation guide”, per the relevant FIA bulletin. Ma then had a 10s stop/go penalty converted into a post-race 45s time addition for not using attack mode during the race. He ended up 16th and a lap down in the final classification. 

Mahindra Racing and Nissan e.dams drivers Jerome d’Ambrosio and Sebastien Buemi were give drive-through penalties that were converted into post-race penalties of 30s for using too much regen. Buemi therefore dropped from seventh at the line to 13th in the final classification, while D’Ambrosio stopped in the pits late-on with a suspected gearbox issue and was not classified.

Porsche’s Andre Lotterer – who finished 12 laps down and unclassified after a clash with Dragon driver Nico Muller broke his suspension, which was then repaired in the pits – was later disqualified from the results for going over the maximum 200kW power level when not in attack mode.

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About this article

Series Formula E
Event Santiago E-prix
Drivers Nyck de Vries
Author Alex Kalinauckas