Hyderabad E-Prix: From fuming spectators and delayed sessions to dangerous turns on the track

The gates were opened at 7:30 am for Free Practice 2 but many of the spectators had to wait in line for hours before entering the arena.

BySumit Jha

Published Feb 11, 2023 | 2:50 PMUpdated Feb 11, 2023 | 2:50 PM

The podium finishers of the inaugural Formula E race in India will not get to "pop the champagne". (Formula E)

As Free Practice 2 of the Hyderabad E-Prix began at 8 am on Saturday, 11 February, a long line of spectators were left fuming outside, waiting to enter the venue.

While the gates opened at 7:30 am, spectators — many of whom had arrived well before the appointed hour — had to wait in line for hours to get inside the arena to watch the free practice.

“The ‘Gate opens’ time was 7:30 am IST. It’s 8:10 am now. People are waiting from before 7:30 am. The practice (FP2) has already started inside and everyone is waiting outside. No official confirmation or communication. Pathetic management,” tweeted a spectator at 8:15 am.

“Paid money for watching in @DisneyPlusHS while waiting in the queue. Heights of management,” tweeted another spectator.

But the long wait time is just one more issue that has plagued the Formula E-Prix at Hyderabad.


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Drivers raise safety concerns at Turn 3

Hyderabad E-Prix layout. (Auto Car website)

Hyderabad E-Prix layout. (Auto Car website)

Ahead of the opening practice session of the Hyderabad E-Prix, drivers, including Jean-Éric Vergne, Jake Dennis, and Andre Lotterer raised safety concerns about Turn 3 of the 2.83 km-long street circuit.

The track runs around the Hussain Sagar Lake, NTR Park, and NTR Gardens, covering Necklace Road.

“There is not enough run off area at Turn 3. We will be coming at very high speeds through that turn and if we lose the brakes, we have nothing, we just have the wall (without barriers),” said Vergne, who is a two-time Formula E champion and a former Formula 1 driver.

However, Vergne and most other drivers in the field praised the layout of the track.

Opening practice delays

Mitch Evans, Jaguar TCS Racing, Jaguar I-TYPE 6

Mitch Evans, Jaguar TCS Racing, Jaguar I-TYPE 6 (Formula E)

The opening practice session on Friday evening was delayed by 35 minutes. A breach of security occurred, witnessing vehicular movement on the Formula E-­Prix track on Necklace Road just before Free Practice 1.

The vehicles came from Indira Gandhi statue side towards the Telugu Talli flyover, which delayed the beginning of the practice session.

The Formula E twitter handle stated that the delay was due to force majeure (unforeseeable circumstances) and did not specify that it was because of a dusty track.

Soon after the session began, championship leader Pascal Wehrlein suffered a crash, raising questions over track conditions.

Here are more developments related to the ongoing Hyderabad E-Prix.

Confetti over champagne

A monkey invades the circuit

A monkey invades the circuit (Formula E)

The podium finishers of the inaugural Formula E-Prix race in India, on Saturday, will not get to “pop the champagne”, a decades-old tradition in motorsport, as part of the victory celebrations.

Instead, they will have to make do with confetti cannons.

Replacing champagne with a non-alcoholic beverage is usually seen in races organised in places like Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, and Bahrain.

Keeping the “local customs” in mind, all stakeholders of the Hyderabad race — Greenko, the Telangana government, Formula E and the series champagne sponsor Moët & Chandon — have decided to not use the bubbly on the podium.

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Rollercoaster of emotions

The qualifying round saw Jaguar TCS team’s Sam Bird have his lap time for exceeding track limits. However, his team member Mitch Evans secured the pole position for the final race.

Evans faced Jean-Éric Vergne in the final duel, with Evans beating Vergne by the tiniest of margins — just 0.021 seconds, which was the smallest winning margin to decide pole this season.

Championship leader Pascal Wehrlein, who has 94 points, secured the ninth position in the race.

(With PTI inputs)