ABB FIA Formula E Championship teams are seeking further clarity on their allocation and management of official passes after recent incidents resulted in penalty fines.
BMW i Andretti Motorsport received two separate sanctions at the Santiago E-Prix last month, totalling a combined €2,000 ($2,300) fine.
The first charge related to a BMW member of staff working on Alexander Sims’ car with a red pass for which the team received a €500 ($565) penalty.
The second offense came when a separate team member was found to be working from a laptop computer in the team’s engineering office with a blue credential, warranting a heftier €1,500 ($1,700) fine.
Teams receive a strict allocation of 20 yellow-colored operational passes, 11 general team passes and five management and PR credentials.
Each competitor is required to submit to the Formula E Manager a list that allocates each single ticket number to a specific member of the team.
BMW i Andretti team principal Roger Griffiths told e-racing365 how the incident in Santiago occurred.
“In our particular incident, it was just a genuine error and we knew it was a case of one of our red pass holders, which we all know are not allowed to touch the car,” he said.
“He just wasn’t thinking straight. I think somebody might have offered him something to have a look at, he picked it up and touched it.
“It’s a genuine error, nothing malicious there. There was no intention to do anything wrong.
“We accepted what happened and didn’t argue. It’s just frustrating. We fully respect the regulations.”
Griffiths stated that he and other team principals were seeking further detail from the FIA on specifically what constitutes a breach of the protocol around the pass allocation.
“It’s something we’re all seeking a little bit more clarity because this is a complex car. It requires a lot of people to work on it,” he said.
“One of the challenges is, because the cars don’t come back to the team base, is that we have to do a lot more work on the cars here, which means it stretches every team’s operation.
“Some people are questioning, can we bring in more staff, set up on Thursday or Friday to work on the cars in a particularly specialist area like carbon repair.”
The pass regulations for a Saturday-scheduled E-Prix come into effect at 9 a.m. on the Friday morning of the event.
These passes are issued by Formula E but the FIA has the responsibility to enforce and regulate their usage.
Creative Pass Strategies Rumored
Unsubstantiated rumours of teams being creative with their pass allocations have existed in Formula E for several seasons.
The matter of teams potentially swapping passes between staff and essentially having extra technical staff members masquerading as marketing personnel have been a consistent paddock topic.
The current controversy is believed to center on the interpretation of the blue passes which allow access to the paddock and pit lane only.
Griffiths strongly reiterated his belief that teams are not actively looking to break the pass allocation rules.
“None of us, I would hope no other team too, go out intentionally to take advantage of the pass restrictions, but it’s difficult,” he said.
“We’re in a constant dialogue with the FIA and also with Formula E. We just want to make sure that everybody has the same understanding – Formula E, FIA, the entrants [and] the manufacturers.”
The FIA declined to comment on the subject of pass allocations when approached by e-racing365 in Mexico City.