The Mercedes driver suffered a large lock-up into Turn 1 of the reversed-configuration Tempelhof Airport on lap 15. After running wide and slowing immediately, he crawled to the run-off at Turn 2 and parked up.
Reigning FIA Formula 2 champion de Vries then got out of his car, rather than wait for instruction from race director Scot Elkins. A full-course yellow was called as de Vries pushed the Silver Arrow 01 machine to a gap in the barrier with assistance from the track marshals – restricted in number following new protocols established by FE following the coronavirus.
By exiting the car without permission, de Vries breached Article 1.6 of the drivers’ briefing notes and Article 30.7 of the FE sporting regulations. For this he was fined €5000.
A further decision was issued for de Vries pushing his car, which read: “The driver of car #17 caused a dangerous situation, when he pushed his car in Turn 2 on the track when other cars were present.”
For the next race on Saturday, which will use the conventional Tempelhof layout, de Vries will carry a five-place grid penalty in addition to having five points added to his race licence – which takes his total to eight.
Prior to the stoppage, de Vries had been running in fifth after losing places to Lucas di Grassi and Robin Frijns despite his robust defensive moves on corner entry.
De Vries, who did not yet know the cause of the car failure, said: “We had a competitive start of the day and we put ourselves in a good starting position to have a competitive race. But unfortunately, we lost everything. It happens. It's a shame but what can I do?
“We will obviously look into [the cause of the retirement] and see if we can find out what happened.”
Despite de Vries’ initially strong race, combined with his fourth place on Wednesday, he did not reckon he had finally found a rhythm in the series.
“I think you can't say [you’ve cracked FE] at any point,” he said. “It's highly competitive and very unpredictable. Every day is different, even though we're racing at the same track.
“You can't take anything for granted, so you just have to continue to work hard.”