The Techeetah team has been fined €30,000 for adapting newly-introduced driver safety harnesses in Santiago. This caused controversy in the Formula E paddock as drivers and teams have been disqualified for similar or lesser offences.
The fine has allowed the Chinese team to retain their first one-two finish which is the first for any team in Formula E history.
Both Techeetah drivers, along with Dragon’s Jerome d’Ambrosio, were placed under investigation shortly after the race concluded with a decision not being announced until the late hours of Saturday night.
The stewards determined that the Techeetah had made a “modification to the safety harnesses” issued for this race and “did not ask the technical delegate before adding these parts.”
New harnesses were delivered to teams ahead of the first race to be run without a minimum pitstop time for the mid-race car swaps.
It was done to ensure drivers swapped cars and safely secured the belts with ease, as only the top straps have a sensor to confirm they have been sufficiently fastened.
The decision has disappointed a number of teams in the paddock as drivers and teams have been disqualified for similar offences and have lost race wins.
Audi has been a team hit by post-race disqualifications which have cost the team three victories. In season one, Lucas Di Grassi was disqualified for a modified front wing in Berlin after it had sustained damage earlier in the day.
Di Grassi was again docked of 25 points in Mexico in season two for an underweight car.
Earlier this season, Daniel Abt lost his first race win on his 25th birthday due to the wrong barcode being on a part of a car that didn’t match the FIA records before the race started.
How they may have escaped disqualification
After Abt’s exclusion in Hong Kong, the fans started to get frustrated about the number of post-race penalties that occurred after Formula E events that drastically changed the results of the race.
Some fans and team bosses argued that the series should try to find other penalties to give teams that didn’t impact the final result of the race. Unless there has been a clear example of broken rules that warrants a driver or team to be excluded from the race.
Therefore, as Techeetah’s achievements were significant, that may have swayed the stewards into not disqualifying the team.
However, the FIA’s technical and safety departments will clarify “what, if any, modifications are permissible in respect of the safety harnesses” before the next race in Mexico on March 3.
This is a result of the stewards not being clear into what teams could do with the new safety harnesses.