Vergne consigned to last on the grid by battery change
Reigning Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne will start the second race in Diriyah from last after receiving a grid drop for changing the battery on his DS Techeetah car.
Vergne clouted the wall heavily in Saturday’s free practice session at Turn 17, but managed to return to the pits with left-rear suspension damage.
Although the DS mechanics repaired the car, a battery safety check with FIA-supplier McLaren Applied Technologies forced a swap to a new unit before qualifying.
This was considered a breach of Article 28.5 in the FE’s sporting regulations, and Vergne was therefore given a 20-place grid penalty.
Article 28.4 states that only one battery pack is permitted over a season per car, while Article 28.5 defines the penalty for exceeding that.
DS Techeetah boss Mark Preston said that “because in JEV’s accident in free practice three, he went above the g-limit, which also meant he had to have the doctor come down and see if he’s ok”.
“The same g-limit applies to the battery – it has a max as well," Preston continued to Motorsport.com.
“And then you’re supposed to get it checked [by MAT] after it hits that g-limit – so they took the battery away, but I understand it's actually got some damage to it from the accident.
“I don’t know exactly what it is – but that means it’s not force majeure, [as] we actually had a crash. So therefore you get a battery [change] penalty – it’s simple as that in the end.
“We thought they would just check it and re-do the whatevers inside the little device that is a safety valve almost, and then they’d say ‘Ok, next race [in Santiago] you switch the battery back’. But because it’s damaged that’s different.”
Vergne had originally qualified 11th, with no experience of Saturday’s track evolution as he had very little running as a result of his practice crash.
He expects to have to serve an in-race penalty in addition to his grid-drop as he cannot fall the full 20 places the penalty requires, although this is still to be confirmed in the FIA’s documentation.
Vergne’s penalty lifts Dragon’s Nico Muller off of the back row of the grid, while Nyck de Vries is elevated from last place.
Meanwhile, Jaguar’s Mitch Evans will lose his superpole time, having been found to be under the minimum weight of 900kg after the final part of qualifying.
Evans's 1m11.929s lap, set to carry him to fourth on the grid, was deleted after the breach of Article 5.1 of the technical regulations and the New Zealander will start from sixth as a result.
Mahindra’s Jerome d’Ambrosio and Vergne’s teammate Antonio Felix da Costa move up a position each.
Diriyah E-Prix: Sims bags another pole for BMW
Diriyah E-Prix: Sims leads BMW 1-2 in messy second race