Formula E

Rule change failed: WEC drivers miss both Formula E races in Berlin

Tobias Wirtz

Tobias Wirtz

The efforts to bring about a compromise solution to the clash of dates between the Berlin E-Prix and the World Endurance Championship (WEC) race in Spa-Francorchamps by changing the rules so that the affected drivers can at least start in the Sunday race of the German double-header have failed. The eleven Formula E teams did not reach the necessary unanimity in an electronic vote. The teams affected will therefore need replacement drivers for both races.

Hard blow for Envision, Mahindra and ABT Cupra: the teams will have to do without regular drivers at the Berlin E-Prix on both Saturday and Sunday as they have contractual obligations in the WEC. Both Sebastien Buemi and Robin Frijns of the reigning team champions Envision are affected, Mahindra has to replace Nyck de Vries, while Nico Müller is absent for ABT Cupra.

The remaining drivers, who compete in Formula E and the WEC at the same time, are giving priority to the electric series: DS Penske duo Stoffel Vandoorne and Jean-Eric Vergne, Mahindra driver Edoardo Mortara and Andretti driver Norman Nato will therefore miss the Belgian race on 11 May.

Even though the Berlin E-Prix consists of two separate races, it is still one event. After the administrative checks have been carried out, a change of driver is only possible due to force majeure. Contractual obligations in other racing series are not considered force majeure. It is therefore not permitted to use a replacement driver on Saturday, when the WEC race in Belgium is taking place at the same time, and the regular driver on Sunday.

Griffiths: "You knew the consequences!"

The attempt to make this possible for the affected teams with a rule change has now failed. The reason: several teams had either banned their drivers from competing in the WEC in 2024 or had Formula E contractually prioritised, presumably also in connection with better pay for the drivers. These teams therefore naturally had no interest in a rule change.

"We all went into this knowing that there was a clash," Andretti team boss Roger Griffiths told The Race, adding that he had "zero sympathy" for a rule change. "So, you've made your choice, you chose who you wanted to go with, you knew the consequences of your decision, so you've got to accept it. You can't go crying about it when you suddenly realise what it actually means."

"We passed up on a couple of (drivers) because they already had commitments that precluded them from being 100% dedicated to this championship," the Briton continues, explaining that this certainly played a role in filling the team's second cockpit, for which Norman Nato was ultimately selected.

"You have to decide which championship you are racing in. For us, we're not racing in WEC and we're fully focused on Formula E. Why would we want a driver to step out of the car and compromise his own chances of winning a drivers' title and also the team's chances of winning a teams' title? It's a bizarre one, as far as I'm concerned."

Frijns: "What's the problem?"

The drivers concerned naturally see things differently. "Very frustrating," describes Robin Frijns who, however, blames the FIA and not the other teams, on Racingnews365. "Especially when we have two world championships by the same people that organise it. We have only three races of WEC in the complete season of Formula E. I'm just very frustrated about the fact because everything worked fine the last couple of years, and many people did both championships, me as well."

"I just found that, especially in these times, this stuff shouldn't have happened," the Dutchman continued. "Back in the day, people did Formula 1 and Formula 2 at the same weekend, and they are allowing it. So what's the problem?"

It is still unclear who the affected teams will select as replacement drivers for the Berlin E-Prix. Announcements are expected in the coming weeks.

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Martin ·

I confess this rule does not make much sense, but it was known to all and therefore the tams which adhered to it, and maybe had to pay more or were affected for planing for it, are right to protest any discounts to other teams.

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