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‘Stop the Clock’ Procedures Likely Later in Season

Plans uncovered for races to be extended if they are disrupted by safety car periods…

Photo: BMW Motorsport

A ‘stop the clock’ feature or addition of extra laps could come into force in ABB FIA Formula E Championship races later this season.

The idea of adding laps or stopping the clock of the timed races was first raised earlier this season after fears that an E-Prix could finish under caution or behind the safety car.

The 45-minute-plus-one-lap length of a Formula E race was brought into the regulations this season, replacing the traditional race structure of a set amount of laps.

A variety of options for elongating races in case of a safety car or lengthy Full Course Yellow are known to have been discussed at last week’s sporting working group meeting in Geneva.

It is understood that one of the suggestions debated is that if the safety car is on track for two laps or more then the laps are simply added onto the end of the race after the 45 minutes and one lap has been completed.

E-racing365 understands that supplementing races with additional time or laps could be employed as soon as the Rome E-Prix in April.

Two of the three races so far this season, Ad Diriyah and Marrakesh, have seen safety car periods.

The Marrakesh E-Prix last month came within seconds of finishing behind the safety car after delays in clearing away Antonio Felix da Costa’s crashed car.

Da Costa, who had been leading the race, vacated his car despite specific requests by race director Scot Elkins for drivers to remain in the cockpit for safety and communication reasons.

E-racing365 understands that a software glitch on da Costa’s BMW iFE.18 caused it to reset to a ‘red state’ when the steering wheel was detached.

Drivers Don’t Want Flat Out Races

The increasing influence of the safety car in Formula E races has concerned drivers and teams since the timed race format was first brought up last summer.

Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler driver Lucas di Grassi believes that the effect of safety car or caution periods on the new timed races needs to be looked into.

“It doesn’t matter if the safety car goes slow or fast, because what it consumes is time, so if the safety car covers one lap in ten seconds or half a lap, you consume the same amount of time of the race,” di Grassi told e-racing365.

“This is something that I don’t like and if this happens in the beginning of the race it’s even worse, which is what I said about this new format.”

Di Grassi echoes many other drivers in feeling that disrupted events lead to flat-out racing, therefore reducing strategic creativity and becoming less attractive because of reduced opportunity for overtakes.

“If we have five or six laps of safety car at the beginning of the race for any reason, imagine that a car is stuck on the middle of the kerb,” he said.

“Then the whole race is flat out and it is very difficult to pass, and especially on tracks like Paris and Hong Kong where you won’t overtake at all.

“Stopping the clock or adding laps could work but it needs to be a simple process as not to confuse people and it also cannot impact on broadcasting times and schedules.”

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

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Filbotron

    February 13, 2019 at 4:22 pm

    I feel like the best idea would be for every lap completed under the safety car to add about 80% of the time taken to complete 1 race lap.

  2. Avatar

    Cornholio

    February 13, 2019 at 5:19 pm

    Here’s a solution. Go back to a set number of laps.

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