Lucas di Grassi has disputed the decision to penalize drivers who hit a track limits floppy marker bollard at the Turn 14 chicane during the Super Pole session at Punta del Este yesterday.
The Brazilian, along with Alex Lynn and Oliver Turvey, saw his time cancelled after contact with the marker, which was positioned at the chicane to ensure drivers did not exceed track limits.
The subsequent penalty ensured di Grassi started second and on the dirtier side of the starting grid from where he clearly made a slower start than Jean-Eric Vergne, the beneficiary of the situation and eventual race winner.
The penalty was handed out after a breach of Article 5.1 in the Punta del Este E-Prix Driver Briefing Notes.
While the bollard itself was not referred to, a general track limits warning was given, stating:
“If a driver leaves the track with all four wheels, he must stay as close as possible to the concrete wall at the exit of the chicane. Additionally, the driver is not allowed to gain any advantage.”
Reigning champion di Grassi believes that the sanction, which was only made public thirty-five minutes before the start of the race, cost him a likely victory.
“For me it was not correct,” said di Grassi. “Today we could have done 28 points but we only got 18.”
The Audi driver, who described the bollard as a ‘pylon’, made the point that the rule didn’t appear to be applied during all sessions over the course of the meeting.
“It was also the case many times in Free Practice that cars touched the pylon and nothing happened,” he said.
“Then in Super Pole the guys who touched it get disqualified. What I don’t think is correct is if touching the pylon would be a disqualification of the lap then it happens from Free Practice 1.
“If it is not, which is my understanding from the drivers briefing, then it is not.
“But this situation where each time it is a different thing I don’t agree with. What we need in Formula E is a standard for decisions and penalties as well. I am not the only driver who has said that already.”
E-racing365 believes that di Grassi was told ahead of his Super Pole lap not to touch the bollard by his team.
Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler Team Principal Allan McNish admitted that he had expected the track limits question to be a contentious issue over the course of the weekend.
“That corner was always going to be a discussion topic,” McNish told e-racing365.
“The reason I personally hate track limits is because it is super difficult to control and in that respect I feel for the stewards because the beauty of Formula E is that, 95 percent of the time, track limits is not a significant issue.”
“The problem was that it was such a quick entry there with a wall on the left and you have to judge it. If you are a few millimeters off it is quite an affect in the second part of the chicane.”
Although explicit clarification of hitting the bollard was not detailed in the drivers’ briefing notes, some drivers are believed to have been told via radio by the FIA ahead of the qualifying session.