Formula E drivers hail halo after horror Rome E-Prix crash

Antonio Felix da Costa went underneath Sebastien Buemi just metres after the pair hit Sam Bird in a scary accident at the Formula E Rome E-Prix

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Lucas di Grassi and Robin Frijns are among the Formula E drivers which feel the halo likely saved Antonio Felix da Costa from a serious injury after a horrific crash at the 2023 Rome E-Prix.

The race was red flagged when a multi-car accident, triggered by a spin for Sam Bird, saw the Jaguar driver block the middle of the track at Turn 6.

Sebastien Buemi hit Bird, as did Da Costa, who also briefly went underneath Buemi further down the straight.

Total-Motorsport.com can confirm Buemi‘s tyre marks were clearly visible on the halo of Da Costa‘s car as the pair eventually came to a halt.

“There was a big chance Da Costa could have had a much more serious accident if there was no halo,” Di Grassi told Total-Motorsport.com.

“I know some of the drivers were against the halo at the beginning. I was in favour of the halo, but against the halo design.

“I think it still needs to be more incorporated with the car, or even closed cockpit for me is a better solution than the halo because it keeps you safe.

“Regardless, stuff that makes the car more safe I’m always in favour. The FIA enforce very strict crash standards that allow everyone to walk away.”

Frijns also said the halo “saved” Da Costa, adding the drivers are aware of the dangers of the corner before they jump in the cars.

Antonio Felix da Costa going under Sebastien Buemi’s car in Rome

Hughes explains trickiness of Turn 6

The fast Turn 6 in Rome is one of the fastest corners on the Formula E calendar and it’s also where Jake Hughes crashed his McLaren in qualifying.

Hughes‘ accident came slightly later than Bird‘s crash, as the McLaren driver pointed out the narrow racing line makes it a big challenge for the drivers.

“We always see here that corner is quite tricky,” said Hughes, who missed Saturday’s race due to the damage sustained.

“There’s a lot of camber on the left hand side of the road which means you have be in that lane effectively.

“If you the bump or lose the rear or something and you end up in the middle of the track, you lose almost all your grip.

“So that’s kind of what happened to me. I actually didn’t do so much different, the data says I didn’t do that much wrong.

“I must have just hit the bump with a few centimetres difference and it’s bounced me a lane to the right.

“With the new car we arrive faster and the tyres as well, which has a lot of strengths to it, but if you go over the limit it takes a while to re-gain the grip.

“If you are in a situation like that in a high-speed corner with high consequences, in my case you can find that a small moment becomes a big moment.”

Rene Rast and Jake Hughes on a track walk | Formula E

Di Grassi added: “I think it’s an unfortunate circumstance. I don’t think anything can or should be changed for tomorrow. For the future, we could maybe find a layout that is wider.

“It’s nothing different to Macau or Monaco for example. It is a high speed and the wall is there. If you do a mistake and it’s going to hurt, so you need big balls to do it.

“Sometimes you try to hard and do a mistake but you can gain a lot of time if you do it right. What makes this track so exciting, makes it dangerous as well in a way. It makes it difficult to drive so I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the track or bumps.

“It’s a matter of do we take these risks or not? If everybody decides to do it and if there is a crash, there is a crash. Fortunately nothing happened to anyone and we are all good.”

Lucas di Grassi on a track walk | Formula E

Should Rome E-Prix track layout be changed?

As Di Grassi alluded to, other tracks around the world have fast, blind corners on street circuits.

Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen says the Jeddah Corniche Circuit that F1 visit is more dangerous than Spa-Francorchamps in response to a question about the safety of the Belgian track, following the death of Danilo van ‘t Hoff.

Stoffel Vandoorne was one of several drivers that brushed Bird‘s stricken car, or the wall, but was able to carry on, albeit with a damaged DS Penske machine on his way to 11th.

The Belgian says the only solution if changing the track layout completely, if Formula E and Rome-E Prix organisers want to adapt Turn 6.

“It’s hard to judge,” said Vandoorne. “Unfortunately with this track I don’t think there is a quick solution or fix. It’s blind, very fast.

DS Penske managed to fix Stoffel Vandoorne’s car so he could take to the restart at the Rome E-Prix | Formula E

“In Gen3, it becomes a proper corner so it becomes a lot more tricky, especially in the race when the tyres are getting a bit hot, the cars are on the edge, the racing line is super narrow so I don’t think you can do much.

“If you want to have straights where you can see, you need to change the track layout.”

Nio driver Sergio Sette Camara thinks one solution would be automatic double-waved yellow flags as soon as a driver spins or crashes at Turn 6.

“I like the track how it is for a qualifying lap but in the race it’s borderline too dangerous,” said Sette Camara. “What I think should be done is the yellow flag there should be an automatic double waved yellow.

Sergio Sette Camara feels double-waved yellow flags will help the blind corner incidents at Turn 6 | Formula E

“It shouldn’t be a normal yellow, it should be a direct double yellow. That could avoid horrible crashes like we have seen today.

“A lot of the cars crashing were people lifting but trying not to lose too much time and the race track was blocked – that would never happen if there was a double yellow. But of course if there’s the willingness there to change the layout, it could be a good option.”

John Smith
John Smithhttps://total-motorsport.com
Editor at Total-Motorsport.com and all round Motorsport journalist specialising in Formula 1, IndyCar and Formula E.
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