IF Daniel Ricciardo is to win the Australian Grand Prix, he’s going to have to win it from no higher than fourth on the grid.
F1 race stewards slapped the home crowd favourite with a three-place grid penalty for a rules breach during Friday afternoon’s Free Practice 2.
Ricciardo was found guilty of failing to slow down enough when the red flags came out during the session, ironically when the Red Bull driver had been on his fastest lap of the day.
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A new rule for 2018 specifies that drivers must go no faster than a specified time across the marshalling sectors around the track once the red flag comes out.
The problem wasn’t that Ricciardo didn’t slow down – “he had slowed by as much as 175km/h from his fast times at Turn 12,” said the penalty report, which also stated that “no danger was created” by his actions.
Stewards took those facts into consideration and handed him a more lenient penalty, rather than rescinding it entirely.
Ricciardo also received two penalty points against his F1 Superlicence.
The grid penalty means that even if Ricciardo qualifies on pole position on Saturday, he will start Sunday’s race no higher than fourth.
THE FULL FIA RACE STEWARDS REPORT
The Stewards, having received a report from the Race Director, summoned (document 10) and heard the driver and team representative, have considered the following matter and determine the following:
No / Driver: 3 – Daniel Ricciardo
Competitor: Aston Martin Red Bull Racing
Session: Practice 2
Fact: Car 3 did not stay above the minimum time set by the FIA ECU under the red flag.
Offence: Breach of Article 31.6 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations
Decision: Three grid place penalty. (2 penalty points awarded, 2 points for the 12 month period)
Reason: The Stewards examined telemetry, video, car positioning data evidence and heard from Daniel Ricciardo, the driver of car 3 and the team representative.
The Stewards reviewed the data and video and found that Ricciardo did in fact fail to stay above the minimum time set by the FIA ECU in the penultimate and final mini marshalling sectors.
The Stewards also found that Ricciardo slowed by as much as 175kmph from his fast times at Turn 12 and was consistently and significantly slower in the final three turns, indicating that he was fully complying with the requirements of Appendix H of the International Sporting Code.
However, he admitted an error in reading his dash and was slightly below the minimum time.
As the regulation states, Art. 31.6 was added this year to ensure that drivers reduce speed sufficiently during a red flag.
Breach of this regulation is seen to be an extremely serious matter.
However, in this case, the Stewards thoroughly reviewed the breach and found that the driver slowed significantly, such that no danger was created, and that the driver proceeded with due care.
The Stewards therefore are imposing a lesser penalty than usual, and impose a three grid place penalty and two penalty points.