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Red Flag Protocol Poised for Change

A new regulation is set to stop the clock when races go under red flag conditions…

Photo: Formula E

The anticipated ‘stop the clock’ plans for suspended races are expected to be approved and used in ABB FIA Formula E Championship races later this season.

All teams took part in a special e-vote to confirm the new procedure last Friday and an amendment of Article 40.4 of the 2018-19 Formula E Sporting Regulations is expected to be made with immediate effect.

However, it is understood that the original wording on the e-vote documentation has since been amended and a new vote was issued on Monday evening.

Should the vote receive unanimous approval then an amendment may be applied for this weekend’s Rome E-Prix and details are likely to be made public via a bulletin to be issued on Friday.

E-racing365 revealed in February that new procedures were being looked at to minimize disruption to races and to simplify protocols on restarting races.

Ironically at that stage only one red flag had ever been deployed in the championship at Hong Kong in December 2017.

Subsequently three consecutive races were halted by red flags in Mexico City, Hong Kong and Sanya when the tracks became blocked by damaged cars and debris.

Since then both the FIA and Formula E proposed to teams that a ‘stop the clock’ initiative upon a red flag being flown would be the best scenario rather than the clock running and then lost time being applied thereafter upon a restart.

Currently, while a race is suspended the current sporting regulations state that: ‘neither the race nor the timekeeping system will stop; however, where the event timetable can accommodate it, the length of the race suspension will be added to the maximum time for the race in question.’

This was the scenario that employed at the three red flagged races in Mexico, Hong Kong and Sanya, with the former seeing Nissan e.dams caught out when it made an error in calculating the time/energy calculation for the restarted race.

E-racing365 understands that the move to implement the new procedure will always be at the discretion of the race director.

The move to ensure full race distances are covered is expected to be welcomed by the vast majority of Formula E drivers too.

“I am fully in favor of stopping [the clock] but actually since the beginning [of Season Five] I have not been in favor of having races by time and not by an amount of laps anyway,” Lucas di Grassi told e-racing365.

“It has to be fine-tuned for sure because it could get to a scenario where you have one lap to go and a safety car comes out and you don’t have energy to do that and you just coast around.

“There needs to be something which is easy to understand for the fans and that gives us the best opportunity to race fairly, so from that point of view this ‘stop the clock’ for red flags is a good idea but just a start for further changes.”

Sam Smith is e-racing365's Formula E Editor. A 20-year veteran in motorsports media, including press officer roles in both the FIA Sportscar Championship and at Lola Group, Smith is a well-known face in the Formula E paddock, where he served as series editor for Motorsport.com from 2014-17. Contact Sam

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