"A ridiculous design!" - Sette Camara explains rare reason for late retirement at Formula E race in Rome
Not only in the drivers' standings of Formula E, but also at the back of the teams' championship, every point counts. At the 2023 Hankook Rome E-Prix, Nio 333 took over ninth place from Mahindra Racing thanks to two top-10 results. Sunday, however, only Dan Ticktum reached the finish line - Sergio Sette Camara had retired shortly before the end of the race due to a notable technical problem.
When Nio 333 traveled to Italy for the Rome E-Prix a year ago, things looked anything but good for the British-Chinese team in the championship. Zero points had been scored by the duo of Dan Ticktum and Oliver Turvey at that time, with their best result being a 14th position. But a "combination of good setup and excellent drivers," as Nio 333 later described it, changed the team's path, with both drivers collecting points.
This year, Nio 333 is in a much better position. The team had already collected 28 points before the Rome weekend, and added another eight in Italy. Because Mahindra Racing remained without points, the team of co-chiefs Alex Hui and Russell O'Hagan also overtook the Indian manufacturer in the championship. On Saturday, Sergio Sette Camara raced to 8th place, but his Sunday run was "a race to forget," in his own words.
Debris rip open cooling lines
To e-Formula.news the Brazilian elaborates, "I was twelfth behind the safety car and felt that something was wrong with my car. Before that I drove over some debris and at first I thought the tyres were flat. But the pressures were okay. Still, for the next five laps I was sliding like crazy and all systems, especially the front motor, were overheating. In the end, I had a 'red car' (car is under voltage) and had to retire."
Sette Camara watched in dismay as his ER9 car was brought back to the pit lane by a tow truck after the race. His mechanics quickly discovered the problem with the car. "They saw that the lines with the coolant for the front motor were broken," Sette Camara said.
"It was because of the debris I had run over. I lost the fluid on the track and that's why I slid so much. Lucas (di Grassi) behind me also said he couldn't see anything because of all the fluid and oil. He just didn't have any tear-off visors left, unfortunately." In fact, we observed a heated exchange of Portuguese words between the two after the race that may have had something to do with it.
The lines for the front engine, called FPK (Front Powertrain Kit) lines, run under the car. However, they are not protected by carbon, but "by a weak material: the cover is really ridiculous," says Sette Camara. "You can even bend it with your hands. I think it's a ridiculous design, honestly. Such an important car safety feature should have a decent cover. Especially considering that so many races end in complete chaos with debris everywhere, it's really only a matter of time before it happens to someone else."
Ticktum "still pissed" after points finish
After all, Dan Ticktum collected points in Rome on Sunday with a 9th place finish. He was not entirely satisfied with his race result though: "A 6th or 7th place would also have been possible," he told e-Formula.news after the race. "The Attack Mode strategy was not good after I had advanced to 4th place before. It's good to score some points, but I'm still pissed not to have taken more out. It's hard with our material at the moment, to be honest."
The last opportunity for Nio 333 to score points in the world championship - and likely stay ahead of its direct rivals Mahindra and ABT - comes in two weeks' time. Formula E will conclude its 2023 season at the London E-Prix on July 29/30.