Formula E in India: Hughes drops out after curious mirror incident, Rast harshly ends Dennis' winning streak
The McLaren Formula E team experienced at the Hyderabad E-Prix the first "zero" of the 2023 season and its history. After promising performances in qualifying, neither Jake Hughes nor Rene Rast reached the finish. While the German had to abandon the race after an accident with Jake Dennis (Andretti), Hughes wondered about a curious rearview mirror incident..
"There's always something going on in Formula E," Jake Hughes tweeted after the race in India. The British rookie learned that in a remarkable way at the Hyderabad E-Prix: After a piece of debris damaged Hughes' left side mirror in the starting phase of the race, the mirror unexpectedly came loose and rolled into the cockpit of the McLaren racer. There, the mirror apparently became wedged behind the steering wheel. Hughes was thus no longer able to prevent his bolide from steering to the right and taking damage to the right front suspension when it made contact with the wall before turn 4.
"It was a disappointing end to our weekend," Hughes summed up. "My performance in the race felt like one of my best yet: I felt comfortable and was able to manage my energy well. That's a big plus. I felt like we took a step forward in that regard. Even though the results weren't quite what we'd hoped for, I'd like to thank the team very much for their work. We can still go to Cape Town with confidence."
The curious mirror incident ushered in another unfortunate event for McLaren. The safety car needed to recover the McLaren initially squeezed the field together. Hughes' teammate Rene Rast was thus able to catch up with Jake Dennis, who was running in fourth place at the time. After the restart, Rast set off for an overtaking attempt in turn 3 - and failed.
At too high a speed, Rast hurtled into the rear of Dennis' Andretti car and went up on its right rear wheel. With a badly damaged front end, Rast was forced to retire from the E-Prix just minutes after Hughes retired from the pits. Dennis also headed to his garage to change a tire damaged in the collision.
"Bitter pill" for Dennis - Rast dodges question of blame.
"It's a bitter pill," the Briton, who lost ground to rival Pascal Wehrlein as world championship runner-up, wrote in a tweet after the race. "I was deservedly on the podium from 11th on the grid before I was hit from behind and the race was over. Everyone in the team deserved a better result today. Now we're refocusing - we'll be back in two weeks!"
Rast dodges the question of who was to blame for the accident: "After a good start, I made up positions, but then I got involved in a collision and couldn't continue," the team quotes him as saying in a press release. "That's how it is sometimes in racing. Our energy efficiency improved in the race and our pace on a lap was there too. That's why this way of ending our week here is all the more disappointing."
At least McLaren should take some heart from the performance of both drivers in the individual time trials. In Hyderabad, Rast and Hughes won their respective qualifying groups, although Hughes' best time was dropped due to team inattention (falling short of minimum pit stop time).
As a result of the point-less race, McLaren slipped to 4th position in the team championship and is now just behind Envision Racing. With 27 and 26 points respectively, Jake Hughes and Rene Rast rank 7th and 8th in the drivers' standings. The next opportunity for the duo to collect points comes in just two weeks. That's when Formula E will hold its first race in Cape Town (South Africa).