FIA catches team using banned scanner to ‘cheat’ and steal rivals’ data; Strict penalty to end title chances

The FIA was on its game and found a team clearly breaking the rules and ‘cheating’ as they were using RFID scanners in the pitlane, a move which has already been deemed illegal by the motorsport governing body.

The drama took place in the Formula E on Saturday at the Portland E-Prix, when DS Penske was fined €25,000 for breaking the rules, while both its drivers Stoffel Vandoorne and Jean-Eric Vergne were made to start the race from the pitlane.

FIA officials. Credit:
FIA officials. Credit:

The announcement of the breach was made by the FIA during the initial stages of qualifying, which meant the event lost importance for both Vandoorne and Vergne.

This was a huge dent to Vergne’s chances in particular, as he began the weekend as an outside candidate for a title push.

As things so turned out, the Frenchman failed to break into the top-10 and ended the race P11, thereby failing to add any points to his tally.

With only four races left in the season, it all but rules Vergne out of the title race.

The scanner in question was reportedly sighted by a FIA official ahead of FP2.

The official immediately informed FIA’s technical committee about the breach and action was swiftly taken to punish the team.

The scanner was being used by DS Penske to aid them in discovering which set of tyres their opponents were using.

This has been labelled ‘out and out cheating’ by two of the team’s rivals, who requested anonymity.

According to the FIA regulations, the use of the RFID scanner broke a number of Articles.

These included 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.

Vandoorne, who is the reserve driver for Aston Martin, discussed how FIA had got its wording wrong as his team was not looking to ‘steal data’ from opponents.

DS Penske. Credit:
DS Penske. Credit:

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

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

“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.”

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