Scary high-speed crash, described as ‘one of … if not, the biggest’ in Formula E, leaves multiple cars unable to continue

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High-speed racing is accustomed to high-speed collisions, such is the nature of the sport.

But rarely have we seen a crash as dramatic as what took place on Saturday during the first of Formula E’s double-header of races in Rome.

On turn six of the ninth lap, Jaguar driver Sam Bird – leading the race at the time – appeared to lose control of the back of his car before colliding with the barrier to spin his car into the middle of the track.

This, as it turned out, was a particularly bad bit of luck for Bird who was unable to move in the middle of the track on a blind corner where cars travel at extremely high speeds. 2016/17 Formula E drivers champion Lucas di Grassi later called the corner “probably the most dangerous on this track.”

In the immediate aftermath, multiple cars made slight contact with Bird’s car, in particular Envision Racing’s Sebastien Buemi who hit the back of the Jaguar car, launching Buemi up and into the wall at an angle before he landed back down.

While other drivers were able to narrowly avoid a serious collision, while still making contact, the same could not be said about Maserati MSG Racing’s Edoardo Mortara who drove straight into the side of Bird’s car.

The race was immediately red flagged and delayed for 45 minutes. In total, six drivers could not continue in Saturday’s race because of their involvement in the crash.

The frustration of the drivers involved was evident to hear, particularly from Buemi.

“For f**k sake! When is this luck going to f**king stop? For f**k sake! What the f**k is that?” Buemi could be heard saying to his team on his radio.

“Guys, I’m so sorry but I couldn’t do anything.”

Thankfully, no driver sustained any serious injuries and all able to walk away.

One of the drivers whose race ended prematurely, di Grassi, expressed his relief at just being able to walk away with no injuries.

“I am very happy all the drivers are safe,” di Grassi said. “I had zero problem physically and the car had minor damage compared to what could have been, so in one way, we have been lucky today that nothing more serious happened.

“Thanks to the FIA and Formula E Safety requirements, also, not only for the car but also for the track – although that corner is probably the most dangerous on this track. It’s a very fast, blind corner and we are racing and there is no space to run off. In a straight, you can see more. In a corner like this, it is very hard to evaluate if the track is fully blocked or not. In the end, the safety of the drivers was due to the car being very strong and the track being well built.”

With a race the very next day, many of the teams worked until the early hours of the morning in an attempt to fix their cars, with Formula E presenter Saunders Carmichael-Brown reporting that after “one of the biggest incidents, if not the biggest we’ve seen in Formula E history on track,” there was a “massive collaborative effort” from almost a third of the paddock.

“A community effort to share parts and make sure we can get as many cars as possible on track [on Sunday],” Carmichael-Brown said.

Extraordinarily, all drivers involved in the collision made it on track for the second race of the double header, with Bird finishing third, Buemi fourth and Mortara fifth.

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