FIA: "Surprising" extra lap 'made life difficult' in Valencia E-Prix

The FIA has responded to the farcical end to Valencia E-Prix in which only six cars finished without taking drastic energy-saving measures saying Antonio Felix da Costa ‘made life difficult’.

FIA: "Surprising" extra lap 'made life difficult' in Valencia E-Prix

Long-time leader da Costa held the lead at the restart of the last of five periods behind the safety car and crossed the timing line with 15 seconds remaining to tee up a two-lap sprint finish.

This came after incremental reductions were made following every safety car interlude to the total energy each driver could use, decisions which are made at the discretion of FIA race director Scot Elkins.

The final figure fell from the standard 52kWh by 19kWh down to a final of 33kWh.

The last reduction, combined with the short distance remaining, left minimal time to regenerate energy and forced cars to crawl to the finish to be classified while five drivers were disqualified.

This result has drawn widespread criticism from teams, who believe the final energy reduction was too severe and too late in the race, but they do not fully hold da Costa responsible.

This comes after the FIA has suggested he could have slowed the pace more at the final safety car restart to cross the line after the race timer had elapsed to instead leave only a one-lap shootout.

FIA director of Formula E and innovative sport projects Frederic Bertrand said: "I don't know if it's a mistake. I think it's a global approach of the end of the race.

Antonio Felix Da Costa, DS Techeetah, DS E-Tense FE21, at the start of the race

Antonio Felix Da Costa, DS Techeetah, DS E-Tense FE21, at the start of the race

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

“For sure, it was surprising that this choice was done this way [by Da Costa] to have that extra lap. I would say in the feeling being done, for sure it was clearly making life difficult to a lot of drivers and the leader in particular.

“It's a surprising choice, probably linked to a lot of specific way of managing the energy for them, also and understanding the way we can accumulate on it before.

“When you look at all the circumstances and the way this happened, it's a very tricky race. At the end there is in a few seconds something which happens, which maybe is not the right decision at the end.

“But it's far better to and far easier to say what was wrong after than before.”

Race winner Nyck de Vries, who passed da Costa on the last lap, said the FIA was “not necessarily” at fault.

Bertrand clarified that da Costa had the “option” to slow down more, adding: “Doing a different choice clearly created a difficult end of race. It was [a] much more difficult challenge with two laps.

“These 15 second have been quite important.”

The energy reduction procedure was discussed at the Formula E team managers’ meeting held on Friday following similar manoeuvres made during the previous Rome E-Prix.

Bertrand said the Valencia opener had been “consistent” with what had been discussed: “[Elkins] was asked, he answered and he applied,” he said.

When asked by Autosport if the FIA would amend the procedure ahead of the Sunday race, Bertrand replied: “No, no. I think every everybody knows what they have to do for tomorrow. I’m sure everybody learns, already.”

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