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Formula E penalty ‘revision’ proposed that F1 could also use

by Sam Smith
4 min read

The inconsequential penalty received by Dan Ticktum in last month’s Sao Paulo E-Prix has prompted a proposed tweak from Formula E title hopeful Jake Dennis.

Ticktum wiped Dennis out of the Brazilian race after losing control of his NIO 333 car, and received a 15-second time penalty – converted from a drive-through – for the offence. That combined with a separate sanction for not following the race director’s instructions – but even a loss of 20 seconds only relegated Ticktum from 12th at the finish to 17th in the classification. Only the top 10 score points in Formula E.

That outcome is known to have angered Dennis’ Avalanche Andretti team, and Dennis – who had suffered a similar DNF two races prior after being hit by McLaren’s Rene Rast – felt Ticktum had deserved a grid penalty.

The Rast clash yielded a three-place grid drop for the German, while in that same Hyderabad race Sam Bird incurred a five-place grid penalty for taking out Jaguar team-mate Mitch Evans.  In South Africa, rear-ending Sebastien Buemi’s Envision Jaguar earned points leader Pascal Wehrlein a five-place grid penalty.

However – unlike Ticktum – Rast, Bird and Wehrlein had all retired from the races in which they’d committed a rules breach.

Dennis told The Race that the Ticktum penalty was “something which I didn’t really agree with to be honest”.

“You can hit someone off and obviously damage your car to a certain extent, and then, say he’s just totally broken a front wing, pitted, changed the nose and then gone back out, and then just still taken the penalty,” he added.

Despite the disappointment and feeling of injustice, Dennis declared that he had “moved on from it now and it is what it is”.

“But I feel that even if you finish the race, and you’re outside the points, they should just give you a grid drop for the next race. Because ultimately, it didn’t affect him at all and it took me out of the race and almost Oliver [Rowland], too.

“The reason why Pascal got the grid drop was because he couldn’t serve the penalty in his race. But he obviously took himself out and almost Buemi. Dan did the same to me. But it kind of doesn’t matter now.

“I think there’s some revision to be had for next year, but it was the consistency thing.”

Dennis’s idea presumably relates to incidents in which other drivers were materially impacted, as having time penalties convert into next-race penalties for finishers outside of the top 10 would be excessive in cases of something routine like a time sanction for repeat track limits offences.

Had Ticktum retired like Dennis and not raced on to an eventual 17th place after his penalty, logically he would have received a grid drop for the next race at Berlin this weekend.

The FIA is believed to favour handling everything within the event if the perpetrator has finished the race.

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Outside Formula E, this can lead to situations like when Daniel Ricciardo tapped Lance Stroll into a spin in Formula 1’s 2022 Hungary race and received a penalty to drop him from 13th to 15th, or when Mick Schumacher punted Nicholas Latifi into the barrier in Abu Dhabi and was given a time sanction that didn’t impact his 16th-place finish. Had they retired in those incidents,  they would’ve presumably incurred grid drops for the races to come – albeit in Schumacher’s case he is still waiting for his next F1 start after Abu Dhabi.

Like Ricciardo and Schumacher, Ticktum has gone relatively unpunished because he was not racing in the points at the time of the accident and took the chequered flag a delayed 14th largely due to damage inflicted in the shunt.

While some argue that this was a ‘naturally occurring’ penalty of a kind, Avalanche Andretti is known to have felt aggrieved.

Ticktum also received two penalty points for the incident, which leaves him on seven for the season.

If a driver accumulates 12 or more penalty points in a 12-month period they will receive a one-race ban for the next event they are scheduled to participate in.

The Race requested comment from the FIA regarding the application of the Ticktum penalty in Brazil but this was not forthcoming.

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