FIA catches team using illegal scanner to spy on rivals

Both of the team's drivers have been slapped with penalties following the team being caught cheating.

There was drama in Formula E on Saturday at the inaugural Portland E-Prix, as one team were caught using RFID scanners in the pit-lane, something which is illegal.

DS Penske were fined €25,000, whilst drivers Stoffel Vandoorne and Jean-Eric Vergne were forced to start from the pit-lane.

The FIA made the announcement during the opening stages of qualifying, a session which became pointless for the two drivers.

Vergne in particular was heavily impacted by the pit-lane start, with him having entered the weekend on the West Coast as an outside title contender.

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The Frenchman could only recover to 11th, meaning he didn’t score any points.

As a result, the ex-Toro Rosso driver is effectively out of the title race with four races remaining.

The scanner itself was reportedly spotted by an FIA official ahead of Free Practice 2, with the governing body’s technical delegate having then been informed.

DS Penske were using the scanner itself to discover which set of tyres their opponents were using, something which was labelled as “out and out cheating” by two of their rivals, who opted to not be named whilst talking to The Race.

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Using the RFID scanner meant DS Penske broke several Articles, including: Article 8.9 of the technical regulations, articles 23.11 and 30.25 of the sporting regulations and article 12.2.1.l of the FIA International Sporting Code of software implementation guide.

Aston Martin reserve driver Vandoorne discussed the penalty after the race where he admitted that the FIA had worded their crime wrong, with the Belgian having insisted that they weren’t “stealing data”.

“It was quite a horrible weekend to be honest,” Vandoorne told

“Everyone prepares super-hard, and to come here and start from the pitlane is not what we wanted for sure.

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“Obviously what we did was wrong. But the message that was brought across was not correct, people saying we were stealing data from other teams.

“That’s not what we did, we were just trying to check what set of tyres others were using, which you can do with a normal camera. The other teams are doing that, they are using photographers in the pitlane. We found a clever way, or an easy way, and we paid a big price for that.

“We accept the decision, we can’t change it, but the message was brought across in a bad way.”