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Formula E

Porsche will appeal penalty that wrecked Formula E title shot

by Sam Smith
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Porsche will appeal Antonio Felix da Costa’s three-minute London E-Prix penalty for a “technical infraction” that terminally compromised its chance of a first teams’ world title in Formula E.

Da Costa charged from a lowly 17th on the grid to take second place at the chequered flag, but he was instantly shuffled down the classification when the huge penalty, for failing to change his left-right tyre, was applied.

Speaking to The Race, Da Costa described his performance as “one of my best drives in Formula E” and said he didn’t understand why he had received the sanction.

“I don’t know what the penalty is for, but it looks like my front-right tyre was under pressure, but it’s under pressure because I had a [slow] puncture on my tyre,” he added.

“I’d a 0.7 [-bar] pressure, caused by debris, with other drivers trying to get rid of their broken front wings halfway through with debris all over the track.”

This was in reference to McLaren driver Rene Rast’s front wing being scattered across the track – after a collision with da Costa’s Porsche team-mate Pascal Wehrlein – at a similar time to a Sacha Fenestraz accident on the approach to Turn 16.

Antonio Felix Da Costa, Tag Heuer Porsche Formula E Team

Da Costa criticised the decision to allow some drivers to restart the race after the red flags with damaged cars, comparing it to his sanction for damage that resulted from him hitting debris on the track.

“They are able to risk cars restarting after a red flag with no front wings, broken front wings, broken rain lights, whatever it is, and me I’m nursing a car home trying get the car back, which I deemed it was safe to drive,” he said.

“I proved that it was safe to drive, I now get a penalty because of this.

“I’m not playing with trying to find performance on optimising tyre pressures. I have a puncture, a slow puncture in the car. I actually lose performance with this. So, we need a little bit of common sense.”

Image From Ios (18)

He added: “Initially the FIA say, ‘You have to change your tyre which means you have to go to the back of the grid’.

“I said, ‘No, the tyre is safe, let me race with this, discuss after’. The car is safe to race.”

The Race has learned that Porsche has now filed its intent to appeal the penalty and now has 96 hours in which to action that.

Porsche team principal Florian Modlinger backed up da Costa’s narrative of the team understanding that it was in its hands to determine whether the car could take the restart without the need for the tyre to be changed.

“It was clearly stated to us, to a mechanic and also to the driver, that it’s up to us to judge the safety,” Modlinger told The Race.

“Also, Hankook admitted that, with this cut from the outside, safety was always given.

“We were also not sure at the beginning, because we had this weekend already also tyre pressure sensor issues – if it’s a real slow puncture, or if the sensor is incorrect.

“Therefore, when we sent Antonio out, you can see Antonio was moving behind the safety car, checking the car, and he clearly gave feedback that the car feels OK, the tyre feels OK, and all is fine. This was the basis to continue.”

Formula E London Eprix

Following the end of the race, da Costa’s car was kept in a parc ferme area at the back of the Porsche pitbox before the tyre was taken for further analysis by Hankook engineers and the FIA.

Modlinger rued the loss of da Costa’s 18 points, which now means Porsche has dropped behind Jaguar to third in the standings – following Mitch Evans’ victory – and now has only an outside chance of taking the teams’ title.

Had da Costa have kept his second place then Modlinger said “we would have a fight on for the teams’ title within eight points, three teams, which would be amazing”.

Wehrlein’s race was compromised heavily by that clash with Rast while they were fighting in the top five.

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But he was reinstated to the points post-race – ironically after a penalty was given to Rast for causing that collision.

Wehrlein was told by the FIA to undertake repairs during the first red-flag period and Mondlinger said in his opinion this highlighted “inconsistencies because we also saw Pascal have a damaged front wing, and we were forced to repair it”.

“This means we would not have repaired it but we were told to go in the garage, change the front wing and other cars were running without or with damage or hanging parts down,” he said.

This referred to several cars, including those of Norman Nato, Sergio Sette Camara and Stoffel Vandoorne, being allowed to restart the third portion of the race without front-wing assemblies and with other damage to the front structure of their cars.

“There, for sure, we need to look for the future that we’re more consistent,” added Modlinger.

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