Electric-powered Formula E racing fell flat on Saturday when 12 of 24 cars taking part in the Valencia Grand Prix ran out of energy and failed to finish.
On a wet track where collisions were frequent, the safety car was called upon five times.
However, the regulations provide that the level of energy available to the single-seaters is recalculated downwards during such pauses in racing.
Having underestimated the distance of the race (the regulations providing for 45 minutes plus one lap) and therefore the amount of energy needed to complete it, half of the field ground to a halt on the last lap.
Race leader Antonio Felix da Costa of Portugal, in a DS Techeetah, was the most notable victim as Dutch driver Nyck de Vries in a Mercedes overtook him for victory.
“I wasn’t expecting this,” said De Vries who started the race with a five-place grid penalty.
“This may look silly. However, it was also just well played by our teams and others kind of missed some information.
“Credit to the work they put into and clearly they were on the ball. But not necessarily a mistake of the championship in my opinion.”
Mercedes team principal Ian James added: “We were rather conservative (in the management of energy) and that paid off.”
Switzerland’s Nico Mueller, in a Dragon-Penske, was second while Mercedes’ Stoffel Vandoorne was third.
“I am really surprised to be here on the podium,” said the Belgian.
Da Costa came under particular fire after being accused of not slowing sufficiently at the head of the field under the last safety car to conserve energy.
“I’m sorry but I cant accept this,” the Portuguese driver tweeted.
“If I go even slower under SC (safety car), how many teams would have protested me at the end? And also, if I go slower, they would have reduced more energy.
“Today it was only on the hands of the FIA to save all of us from this.”
He later told motorsport.com: “Formula E will be the joke of the week”.
A second grand prix is due to be staged on the same Valencia circuit on Sunday.
1. Nyck de Vries (NED/Mercedes) 24 laps in 48:20.547, 2. Nico Mueller (SUI/ Dragon-Penske) at 13.128, 3. Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL/Mercedes) 34.886, 4. Nick Cassidy (NZL/Virgin Racing) 36.903, 5. Rene Rast (GER/Audi-Abt) 51.650
World championship standings
1. Nyck de Vries (NED/Mercedes) 57 pts, 2. Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL/Mercedes) 48, 3. Sam Bird (GBR/Jaguar) 43, 4. Robin Frijns (NED/Virgin Racing) 43, 5. Mitch Evans (NZL/Jaguar) 39