Formula E

"We all look a bit silly" - Reactions to the software problem in Formula E's 1st free practice in Shanghai

Tim Neuhaus

Tim Neuhaus

There were some bizarre scenes during the first free practice session of Formula E in Shanghai on Friday. On the permanent race track, which is also used by Formula 1, it took just under five minutes for the first red flag to come out. The reason for this was a strange software problem that paralysed a total of five cars almost simultaneously. An embarrassing situation for Formula E, as those involved also stated aferwards.

It was not only the technical problem itself that was bizarre, but also the situation on the racetrack after free practice 1 had only just been opened: five drivers stopped on the track at the same time - spread across a couple of corners.

The drivers affected were both Porsche drivers Antonio Felix da Costa and Pascal Wehrlein, Dan Ticktum and Sergio Sette Camara from ERT and Mahindra's Nyck de Vries. The incident was followed by a very long interruption with red flags before practice could be resumed.

Andretti team boss finds software error embarrassing

The reason for this "mass extinction" was apparently an error in the software that all teams use equally. "It must be a standard part," surmised Andretti team principal Roger Griffiths during the session on Formula E's TV world feed. "We know that there was a software update after the Berlin E-Prix, and we assume that the problem is related to the battery or the RESS."

"Maybe there's a bug in it," said the US American, who already suspected at the time that the interruption would probably last longer: "The solution would probably be to revert to the software version from Berlin. We'll have to wait and see what they find out and then they'll probably have to go through the pit lane and update 22 cars... We all look a bit silly."

Dan Ticktum: "Ridiculous"

ERT driver Dan Ticktum, who had stopped next to Pascal Wehrlein at the exit of the "snail curve", took the situation with gallows humour a little later in the pit lane. "It all went to crap in the first braking zone. Five or six cars stopped after turn 1. When several cars have braking problems, it becomes dangerous. And if six or eight cars can't take part in the session, that's also ridiculous," said the Briton.

The session resumed before sunset with all 22 drivers on track and was completed without any further problems. Nevertheless, a sour taste remains after the embarrassing start to Formula E's return to China. We will find out whether the teams will be spared further problems at the weekend next night from 2 a.m. (CEST) when the second free practice session will start in Shanghai.

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