After pit lane fire: Formula E will resume pre-season tests in Valencia on Thursday afternoon
A fire broke out in the pit lane during Formula E testing in Valencia on Tuesday between the morning and afternoon sessions. The paddock and the media center were evacuated at around 12:50 p.m. local time. The starting point of the smoke appears to be the pit of battery manufacturer WAE. One WAE employee had been taken to hospital as a precaution. After a meeting with team bosses, the afternoon session was cancelled.
UPDATE 24 Oct 22:00: There will be no track action at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo on Wednesday either. This was announced by Formula E on Tuesday evening at around 21:30 CET.
UPDATE 25 Oct 20:00: The cars are due to return to the Valencia circuit from 14:00 CET on Thursday, according to a statement from Formula E at 20:00 CET on Wednesday.
UPDATE 26 Oct 13:00 Uhr: Formula E has just officially confirmed that testing will resume from 14:00 CET.
According to current information, which has not yet been confirmed by the race series or the battery manufacturer, the fire did not originate from the one quick charge of a battery, which will be tested for the first time this week. The origin is probably the battery of the DS Penske of Robert Shwartzman, which broke down on the track in the session before. His car, after being recovered, showed the red signal for unsafe and had been taken to the secured area of the pit lane. There, the battery had probably been removed to be checked in the pit by WAE Advanced Engineering. It must have caught fire there.
Formula E has not yet confirmed the cause of the fire. "Formula E, the FIA and local fire authorities are investigating the cause and will provide further information in due course," reads a statement on Twitter. Instead, about an hour and a half after the media center was evacuated, it is confirmed that the fire has been brought under control. Some media colleagues even report that there was minimal damage to the box.
After initial reports that no one was injured, one WAE employee has since been taken to the hospital. "One person was examined by paramedics and taken to hospital as a precaution," commented Formula E. Regarding the procedure on and off the track, it says: "The emergency team on the track acted immediately to contain the incident, while the main pit building and garages were quickly evacuated."
The afternoon test session is likely to be postponed indefinitely, but it has not been formally cancelled so far. Currently, the FIA and Formula E are investigating whether the battery systems can be classified as safe. After a meeting with the team bosses, it was announced that the test day is therefore over.
"Investigation of the incident is ongoing, but has already identified an issue which is being addressed"
On Tuesday evening, the track activities on Wednesday were cancelled: "In response to an incident earlier today at Formula E pre-season testing in Valencia when a fire caused damage to a garage in the pit lane, on-track testing activity will not go ahead tomorrow, Wednesday," says a statement from the racing series. "Damage from the incident was contained following the activation of emergency procedures. One person was taken to hospital as a precaution but released without treatment."
"An investigation into the cause of the incident is ongoing, but has already identified an issue which is being addressed. The investigation and further safety assessments will be completed and we aim to resume on-track activities from Thursday, subject to final confirmation tomorrow."
On Wednesday evening, the racing series confirmed that racing will resume at Thursday afternoon. "Formula E pre-season testing is preparing to resume from 2pm CET tomorrow, Thursday", the statement says. "This is subject to final confirmation at 11am, and will follow completion of an investigation into the incident that happened yesterday. Further updates will follow in due course."
However, it is still unclear whether Mahindra Racing will be able to participate. According to information from e-Formula.news, many parts of the team's equipment were damaged during the fire-fighting operations. The WAE pit is located directly next to the Mahindra garage.
Nevertheless, it was also unclear for a long time on Thursday whether it would be possible to drive on Thursday. Formula E confirmed at 1 pm CET that testing could resume as planned. "Following the incident that happened on Tuesday and subsequent investigations, the FIA has authorised Formula E pre-season testing to resume today from 2pm CET", the statement said. "The investigations and findings provided by the technical suppliers and reviewed by the FIA confirm that it is acceptable for on-track activity to go ahead. Pre-season testing will now continue through Friday. An updated on-track session schedule will be distributed soon."