Post-race debrief: 2019 Hong Kong E-Prix

The fifth round of the 2018/19 Formula E Championship had a controversial story at the head of the field, but what other headlines came from the race?

DS Techeetah protest Bird penalty

After Sam Bird received a five-second time penalty for his penultimate-lap collision with Andre Lotterer, costing him the win, DS Techeetah protested the penalty, claiming it wasn’t harsh enough.

It argued that Lotterer’s defence was consistent and that the collision had a significant outcome with the German suffering a puncture. It added that it sets the wrong precedent for racing and that it has been generally worried about the level of contact that has been acceptable during the current season.

Envision Virgin Racing responded that there was mutual respect between both drivers during the race, that Bird was making a realistic move and that Lotterer moved under braking. It also pointed out that Bird did not want to go any further to the right as it was damp and could have resulted in a bigger collision.

As no new evidence could be provided for why the penalty should change, the protest was ultimately dismissed and Bird remains sixth on the final results, keeping his drivers’ championship lead by one point.

Repairs under reds

While Edoardo Mortara scored his and Venturi’s first FE victory, team-mate Felipe Massa had his best result in fifth after the team repair suspension damage on his car during the early red flag period. The FE rookie was 10th on the restart after earlier contact.

“My race had a fantastic start and I gained two positions then a racing incident resulted in me losing several positions and damage to the rear of my car,” he said.

“Fortunately we had the red flag and managed to fix the problem with the suspension. The mechanics did a fantastic job to repair it so quickly and after the restart the race was great.”

Another no-score for Nissan e.dams

For the third consecutive race Nissan e.dams has failed to score points in the race. Oliver Rowland was leading the race when a bump from Bird at the Turn 1 hairpin led him to accidentally pressing the full course yellow limiter on his steering wheel, dropping him to 10th.

Both he and team-mate Sebastien Buemi retired with rear suspension failures.

Vandoorne suffers more bad luck

After claiming his first FE pole position Stoffel Vandoorne suffered a broken driveshaft, the same one that team-mate Gary Paffett had in practice, which dropped him out of podium potential.

Paffett meanwhile finished eighth to score HWA Racelab’s first top 10 finish which, with the points scored by Vandoorne’s pole, means they have jumped NIO and Geox Dragon in the teams’ championship to ninth.

Mahindra double retirements

Both Pascal Wehrlein and pre-race championship leader Jerome d’Ambrosio were caught up in Felipe Nasr’s incident which brought out the red flag. The Dragon driver was returning to the pits with damage to his car after a lap 1 incident when he crashed at Turn 2, which neither Mahindra could avoid.

“I think it was obvious that there was an issue with Nasr’s car as there was smoke coming out of it so Dragon should have brought him into the pits, made the car safe and then sent him out,” d’Ambrosio said.

“In my opinion they caused a dangerous collision and that needs looking at.

“It’s disappointing because we knew there would be incidents today that we could have tried to take advantage of but, unfortunately, it happened to us.”

When it reigns it pours for Vergne

Reigning Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne had another poor result. His qualifying time was deleted after he brought out a red flag when he crashed after the timing line, leaving him 18th on the grid.

After struggling to make progress through the field, he received a five-second time penalty for contact with Tom Dillmann and received a further 10-second stop/go penalty for cutting the Turns 3/4 chicane and not stopping before re-joining the track.

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Chris Stevens

Chris is a member of the Autosport Academy and has been writing about motorsport professionally since 2015. He has been one of the top Formula E journalists since he went to Donington Park for pre-season testing a week after picking up his A-Level results.

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