'Incorrect software parameter' sends Formula E's Edoardo Mortara to hospital: Brakes' fail-safe system failed

Bug keeps Mercedes, Venturi teams out of qualifying race


Swiss Formula E driver Edoardo Mortara ended up in hospital after a software error left him driving into a safety wall at the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, on Saturday.

In a statement issued via Twitter, the Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team blamed the code governing the race car's braking system.

"The braking system on Formula E cars is designed so that if the front brakes fail, the rear brake system is activated as a fail-safe," the Mercedes-EQ Team said. "In this instance, an incorrect software parameter that meant the rear brake system didn't activate as intended and the fail-safe did not kick in."

Evidence of the system's failure can be seen in the YouTube video below in which Mortara starts up and drives straight past the first corner into a Tecpro barrier.

Youtube Video

Mortara said in an Instagram post that he's fine, but the incident prevented both his own team, ROKiT Venturi Racing, and Mercedes-EQ from participating in the qualifying race.

The Mercedes-EQ Team said they have managed to correct the software problem and convince ruling body the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile) that the problem has been resolved.

"The team was able to get to the bottom of what caused him to crash following a thorough analysis of the various parameters and made software changes to correct the problem, ensuring that the cars were safe to use," Mercedes said in a statement. "As a result, all four Mercedes-EQ cars were allowed to take part in the E-Prix."

Mercedes-EQ drivers Nyck de Vries and Stoffel Vandoorne finished 9th and 13th respectively.

Mercedes did not immediately respond to a request to provide more details about the nature of the software bug.

Former Audi driver Daniel Abt, who, prior to being suspended for cheating in an online race last May, had a similar accident also attributed to braking software and took note of the parallel circumstances.

Audi at the time said, "it appears that @Daniel_Abt crashed due to a software communication problem. Although he was braking hard, the car didn't decelerate like it should."

The Diriyah race saw also a more alarming accident, involving driver Alex Lynn (said to be well), and a missile interception over the city that occurred in the midst of a fireworks display. ®


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