It was a weekend of controversy for the German teams involved in F1 and in Formula E, but both showed startling commitment to their fans by opening up plain-speaking, no-holds-barred dialogue on social media.
In F1, on Sunday Mercedes got a critical strategy call wrong in the closing laps of the Monaco race, which demoted race leader Lewis Hamilton from first to third. In the electric single seater series, Audi Sport ABT was found to have made modifications to the front wing of race winner Lucas di Grassi’s car, which led to him being disqualified.
In both cases, the teams took to social media on Tuesday to own up to their errors, displaying refreshing honesty.
In the case of Formula E, the ABT team joined #FEbuzz, a Twitter-based question and answer session co-hosted by Current E after every race, to explain further.
When asked by a fan why the modifications had been made, Audi Sport ABT replied: “We considered them to be normal after repairing – mistake.” That reinforces the statement that the team issued on Saturday evening, where team boss Hans-Jurgen ABT blamed damage sustained to components during transit as the catalyst for making repairs subsequently found to have been illegal.
Asked what the team’s immediate reaction had been to hearing the news on Saturday evening, the answer was: “Sorry for Lucas because it was 100% not his fault.”
The team went on: “We are happy that we get the chance to explain. It was a mistake of our team. Not at all meant to gain an advantage. But still a mistake. The rule says: ‘All the parts must be those supplied…and in the catalogue.’ Not the case.”
The ABT team is popular in the paddock and known for their straight talking, sense of humour and a welcoming garage complete with a fridge always stocked with cold Warsteiner beer. Despite the shock and suspicion caused when news of the modified front wing broke (had it been done to gain an advantage, many immediately wondered), if anything meeting the issue head on looks set to win fans for both the team and the sport itself.
“The team would have loved to take any penalty but it’s not in the rules,” said the team when quizzed if it was not unfair that di Grassi served the disqualification for a mistake he hadn’t made.
In a typically wry and self-deprecating statement, when asked how they would adapt to the remainder of the season in light of losing di Grassi the championship lead three races from the end of the season, the ABT team responded: “Much more attention to the regulations.”