Ex-Red Bull driver lashes out at the FIA over new cheating penalty

A penalty imposed on DS Penske has sparked controversy, with Jean-Eric Vergne furious at the FIA.

Formula E driver Jean-Eric Vergne has expressed his discontent regarding a penalty imposed on his team, DS Penske, by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA). 

The FIA penalised the team for the installation of a scanning system, which has sparked controversy within the racing community.

At the start of the pit lane, DS Penske had placed a ‘Radio Frequency Identification scanner’ (RFI) in violation of FIA regulations. 

Although teams have different methods of observing their competitors, it is strictly prohibited to position any equipment in the pit lane for this purpose. 

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Consequently, the team faced repercussions for their actions.

Denying the allegations made by the FIA, Vergne took to his personal Instagram page to express his disagreement.

“[That] is completely wrong, with that system we merely read the serial number of the tires used by others,” the Frenchman said. 

Despite his denial, the team acknowledged their wrongdoing and accepted the penalty, acknowledging that they should have been aware that the device was not to be utilized in this manner.

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As a result of the FIA’s decision, DS Penske incurred a hefty $25,000 fine, marking the highest financial penalty in the history of the sport. 

Moreover, both drivers of the team were ordered to start from the pit lane in the forthcoming race in Portland. 

Speaking to The Race, Vergne voiced his frustration, feeling that the team was being unjustly treated: “It’s a complete lie to say we had access to live data, it’s completely and utterly false, a false accusation, and it makes us look so bad and it’s damaging the team reputation.”

The controversy surrounding the penalty and Vergne’s response has sparked a debate within the Formula E community. 

Supporters of DS Penske argue that the punishment is disproportionate, considering the limited scope of the scanning system’s functionality. 

They emphasise that the device was merely utilised to read the serial numbers of tires used by other teams, and not for accessing real-time data from the vehicles.

On the other hand, critics maintain that any violation of FIA regulations should be met with strict consequences to ensure fairness and integrity within the sport. 

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They argue that even if the scanning system was not utilised for gathering live data, its presence in the pit lane constitutes a breach of the rules, warranting penalties.

The incident has prompted discussions regarding the enforcement of regulations and the need for clarity in defining permissible technological applications within the sport. 

The FIA’s decision to penalise DS Penske has brought attention to the challenges faced by racing teams in maximising performance while adhering to the established rules and regulations.