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DS Penske Drivers Face Pit Lane Starts for Unauthorized RFID Scanning at Portland E-Prix

Written by Juan Arroyo

Stoffel Vandoorne and Jean Eric Vergne pit lane start, drives during the 2023 ePrix at Portland International Raceway on June 24, 2023 in Portland, Oregon.
Credit: John Lamparski/Getty Images

Stoffel Vandoorne and Jean-Éric Vergne will start the Portland E-Prix from the pit lane after DS Penske was found to have installed RFID scanning equipment at the pit entry during the morning practice sessions. The team has also been ordered to pay a €25,000 fine.

The RFID technology was used to collect live data from all other teams, including tyre wear, tyre pressure and sets used. This data provides DS Penske with a significant advantage over their rivals, as they would be able to make strategic decisions and adjustments based on other teams' performance data.

The official reason provided by the FIA within the penalty document also states: "The collection of data by this method gives the competitor a lot of information, which is a huge and unfair advantage."

DS Penske violated Article 8.9 of the Technical Regulations, which prohibits the use of telemetry, as well as Articles 23.11 and 30.25 of the Sporting Regulations, which prohibit the use and installation of equipment in the pit lane.

The extent of the data collected is not yet known, as the original reason for the penalty was amended to clarify that it was live data, while removing the section specifying the scanning of barcodes on each car's fitted tires.

Given the nature of the infraction, it is rather impressive the FIA has decided to be lenient in handling the incident.

Inevitable comparisons will be drawn to Formula 1's infamous 'Spygate' in 2007, where the McLaren Formula 1 team was found guilty of possessing confidential technical information belonging to Ferrari. The investigation resulted in a $100 million fine and exclusion from the Constructors' Championship for McLaren.

Jean-Éric Vergne currently stands fifth in the drivers' championship, 37 points behind leader Pascal Wehrlein, while Stoffel Vandoorne has struggled in comparison, currently occupying the 11th position with 39 points.

DS Penske has not yet published a statement regarding the incident, and the team has not responded to a request for comment.


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