Former Formula 1 driver Pascal Wehrlein was taken to hospital after a major crash during a practice session ahead of the Hyderabad E-Prix.
Formula E is racing in India for the first time this weekend, on a new street circuit created in the fourth most populous city in the country. Wehrlein comes into the E-Prix at the top of the standings after three races, with back-to-back victories at the two races in Diriyah and a second-placed finish in the Mexico City season opener.
But his preparations and hopes for another strong result this weekend took a hit on Friday, when he crashed during practice. His Porsche span entering the final corner of the track and smashed hard into a wall, causing extensive damage to the car.
Replays showed just how heavy the contact was, with debris from his totally destroyed front wing flying up into the air. Commentators Jack Nicholls and Karun Chandhok both audibly gasped as they looked over the footage.
At first, the former Manor and Sauber F1 driver appeared unscathed. Sat in the wreckage of his car, he was speaking to his team over the radio and explained that the throttle on his car had “got stuck”.
The German clambered out of the car unaided and was able to walk away from the scene of the crash. However, he was later taken to a local hospital as a precaution, with his Porsche team wanting to be “100% sure” that there was no lasting damage to their driver.
Motorsport director Florian Modlinger told The Race : “He looks okay, but to double check everything he will now have medical checks and then we will be sure. We want to be 100% sure and to not risk anything, and therefore he goes to the hospital.”
Almost immediately, the commentators absolved Wehrlein of blame for the crash. “That doesn’t seem like driver error,” said Chandhok, before Nicholls added: “He said the throttle got stuck and, yeah, you can see the wheels are still spinning as he is having the rotation.”
Clearly concerned about the cause of the crash, the Porsche team took the decision not to allow any of their other drivers to run once the session restarted. A lack of available data from Wehrlein’s crash meant the team wanted to investigate further before any more running out on the track.
Modlinger added: “That was a precautionary decision, 100%, because when you see such an accident and have the driver reporting that something felt strange, and you do not know the reason for it because of having not got the data.
“With such a complex car, it’s only logical to tell the other cars to box and stay in the box.” Sebastian Buemi topped the timesheets in that first practice session, ahead of 2022 champion Stoffel Vandoorne who has endured a difficult start to his title defence so far.