Why Mercedes' de Vries lost maiden Formula E podium in Santiago

Alex Kalinauckas
Why Mercedes' de Vries lost maiden FE podium

Mercedes driver Nyck de Vries lost a maiden Formula E podium finish in Santiago because the battery coolant his team added to his car before the race was too cold.

De Vries surged up the order in the latter stages of Saturday's sweltering race in the Chilean capital - which was won by BMW Andretti driver Maximillian Guenther - and crossed the line in third.

But the 2019 Formula 2 champion was immediately shuffled back to fifth when a five-second in-race penalty for what was initially described as a "technical infringement" was applied.

The relevant stewards document later revealed a breach of Article 27.9 of FE's sporting rules, which relates to the instructions given by FIA battery supplier McLaren Applied Technologies regarding, among other things, minimum battery coolant temperatures.

"We had a battery infringement ahead of the race," de Vries told Autosport.

"Everyone is trying to cool down the battery as much as possible before the race starts and unfortunately we just went below the threshold.

"[It's a] big shame - should have been a first podium on track but it happens, everyone makes mistakes, I make mistakes, so it's part of the job.

"Pushed to P5, but nevertheless, I'm satisfied with our race."

De Vries started eighth but dropped to 11th early on as he and Mercedes "were struggling a little bit in terms of pace and positioning".

"But from mid-race onward our pace was really good and we came through nicely," he added.

"We had good communication so I'm pleased with our job in the end."

Four other drivers were also penalised for technical rule infringements during the third, and possibly final, Santiago race.

NIO 333 driver Ma Qing Hua also received a five-second in-race penalty, though his was for "not [respecting] the power availability, according to Article 8.1 of the FIA supplier battery software implementation guide", per the relevant FIA bulletin.

Why Mercedes' de Vries lost maiden FE podium

Ma then had a 10s stop/go penalty converted into a post-race 45s time addition for not using attack mode during the race.

He ended up 16th and a lap down in the final classification.

Respective Mahindra Racing and Nissan e.dams drivers Jerome d'Ambrosio and Sebastien Buemi were give drivethrough penalties that were converted into 30s post-race penalties for using too much regen.

Buemi therefore dropped from seventh at the line to 13th in the final classification, while D'Ambrosio stopped in the pits late on with a suspected gearbox issue and was not classified.

Porsche's Andre Lotterer - who finished 12 laps down and unclassified after a clash with Dragon driver Nico Muller broke his suspension, which was then repaired in the pits - was later disqualified from the result for going over the maximum 200kW power level when not in attack mode.

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