The potentially championship-deciding Seoul E-Prix has been red-flagged following an eight-car crash in which outgoing champion Nyck de Vries collided with Sebastien Buemi’s Nissan.
The crash occurred at the fast double-apex right-hander near the end of the opening lap on a damp track.
A very strange incident… what do you make of this?
August 13, 2022 — The Race (@wearetherace)
Jaguar’s stand-in driver Norman Nato was first to slew into the barriers, with Buemi doing the same in his wake and de Vries’ Mercedes instantly hitting the back of the Nissan and going straight underneath it.
De Vries quickly let Mercedes know on team radio that he was unhurt, but he had to remain in the car for several minutes until recovery teams were able to remove the Nissan from on top of his car.
Dan Ticktum, Oliver Askew, Oliver Turvey, Andre Lotterer and Nick Cassidy all piled into the barriers and the crashed cars at the same spot within seconds of Nato, Buemi and de Vries’ initial impacts.
Driver interviews in the immediate aftermath suggested a mix of poor visibility in the spray, variable grip where the surface changes at that corner and cars ending up on the more slippery outside line as others protected the inside led to the bizarre sequence of near-simultaneous incidents.
“The visibility in the last sector was quite poor in the middle of the pack, and I think one guy – I didn’t know who he was, I couldn’t really see – was quite cautious on the brake, and the two cars in front of me tried to avoid him,” Nato explained.
“When I arrived, I was taken aback and had to avoid going on the left-hand side of the apex, but the tarmac is really different at this part, and that’s why we saw so many cars [off] because so many people tried to do the same to avoid those inside.”
But the problem is that if you go there, you won’t be able to turn around. Six or seven cars out in one corner is not what we expected.”
Porsche driver Lotterer suggested drivers got caught out under braking on the painted markings on the circuit.
“It’s basically super-slippery out there,” he explained. “As we approached Turn 20, I touched the brakes and they were as cold as ice.” There is nothing you can do from then on.” “I don’t believe it’s braking too late; I believe some cars happened to be on those patches of paint and locked up, and that’s all.” Fortunately, I was able to find a small gap and avoid being hit by another vehicle. I still hit it, but not as hard.”
Cassidy and Nato appeared to be able to quickly reverse out of the barriers and back to the pits with only minor damage. They will all be able to take the restart – which will use the order cars were running in at the time of the crash rather than going back to the original grid – but the other six will not, meaning a 16-car field for the 43 minutes plus one lap still to run.
At the time, title contender Mitch Evans was leading after a brilliant start from third to go three-abreast with front row pair Oliver Rowland and Lucas di Grassi.
He emerged from the first corner second behind di Grassi then passed the Venturi at the next turn. Di Grassi also lost out to Rowland again in the stadium section further around the lap.
Championship leader Stoffel Vandoorne moved up from seventh to sixth thanks to Pascal Wehrlein’s poor start from fourth, but was then overtaken by Jean-Eric vergne.
Remaining title contender Edoardo Mortara was running fifth.
The weather has brightened considerably during the red flag, meaning it could be a dry track by the end.
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