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Alfa Romeo's Imola penalty upheld

NEWS STORY
03/05/2021

The time penalty incurred by Kimi Raikkonen at Imola has been upheld by the FIA stewards.

During the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, on the lap before the re-start following the race suspension, Raikkonen spun at Turn 3 and according to the Sporting Regulations a driver may retake his position, so long as he does so prior to the first safety car line (SC1).

Initially the team instructed Raikkonen to do so, but then told him to hold his position.

Should a driver fail to take his position he must enter the pit lane and can only re-join the race once the whole field has passed the pit exit, and during a rolling start, once the safety car turns its lights out, "no driver may overtake another car on the track until he passes the line..."

In this case, Raikkonen caught up to the cars ahead of him between Turn 13 and 14, but the safety car turned its lights out at approximately Turn 10. This appeared to be a contradictory instruction and the team instructed the Finn to not regain his position, fearing that this would create a safety issue in the wet conditions.

They radioed the Race Director, but there was no time for a response between their call and the restart.

As a result, with Raikkonen having failed to enter the pit lane as per the regulations, the Finn was given a 30s time penalty in lieu of a stop and go, thereby demoting him from 9th to 13th.

Given leave to have the penalty reviewed, Alfa Romeo attended a hearing on Sunday morning. However, the stewards decided to uphold the original decision.

While accepting that "a red flag during a Formula 1 race is a rare occurrence and the circumstances for a rolling restart are even rarer", the stewards also admitted that there is "ambiguity" and some regulatory clauses can be interpreted in different ways.

"The stewards understand why Alfa Romeo acted as they did," said the stewards in their statement, "first to tell the driver to re-take his position, then later to tell him not to re-take the position. The Stewards stand by their original decision that the Competitor committed a breach of Art. 42.6 by failing to re-establish his starting position during the lap behind the safety car.

"The mandatory penalties that are in the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations are specifically intended to take discretion regarding penalties out of the hands of the Stewards, even or specifically when the Stewards find mitigating circumstances."

Reacting to the decision, Alfa Romeo said: "Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN acknowledges the decision of the FIA and the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix stewards to uphold the original penalty to driver Kimi Raikkonen, following a review of the incident. The team's focus is now fully on next weekend's Spanish Grand Prix."

Check out our Sunday gallery from Portimao, here.

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1. Posted by Greg, 03/05/2021 11:07

"To many rules and regulations.... it's the fine print again"

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