Parente slams "horrible" penalty decision in Blancpain finale
Garage 59 McLaren driver Alvaro Parente has hit out at the "horrible" and "awful" decision to penalise him and co-driver Rob Bell in the final round of the Blancpain Sprint series at Barcelona.
What was supposed to be a climactic season finale to decide the overall Blancpain GT Series title fizzled out after the qualifying race, when the #58 McLaren 650 GTS GT3 of Bell and Parente took a drive-through penalty.
That left the pair out of position for the start of the main race, as they started from a lowly position of 16th that they would never recover from.
Bell was leading the drivers' championship before the final Sprint Cup weekend in Barcelona by five points over the #84 HTP Mercedes driven by Maximilian Buhk and Dominik Baumann.
With the McLaren out of the points in both races at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Buhk and Baumann took over the lead in race one and secured the title in race two by taking eighth.
The penalty was awarded when the late-braking Jules Szymkowiak in the #86 Mercedes-AMG, the sister car of the #84, went straight on and seemed to take the McLaren of Parente with him.
Both cars were penalised by the stewards for gaining an advantage by going off the track, much to the ire of the Portuguese driver.
“That was complete bullshit, just an insane call”, a fuming Parente told Motorsport.com after the race.
“I had a good start, chose to go to the left. I was trying to go around the outside, preparing to get into a good position for turn two.
"From the corner of my eye I saw the #86 Mercedes. I saw he had a bad start and braked 20 metres later. He wasn’t going to make the corner at all.
"If I had turned in and take the track normally, which I easily could, then we would have crashed. It’s a horrible decision by the race directors. Awful. It destroyed the weekend for us.
"Basically, what I interpret from this is that the Spanish race directors that took the decision preferred me to crash than to avoid a crash. That’s the conclusion you get, isn’t it?
"I’m not a guy to complain, but what was that! Just complete bullshit. I’m pissed off. They made a terrible call."
McLaren GT boss Bas Leinders said: “Alvaro had nowhere to go. It was either crashing or doing what he did. Alvaro gave two positions back. It wasn’t live on TV and race control said nothing.
"If they had told us to give another position back, we would have done that. Then they suddenly said we had to give a place back. Then tell us!"
Leinders had just made a trip to the stewards with on-board images of the incident, but the damage was already done.
“They are still saying we should have given a position back," the Belgian added. "But there was nothing we could have done, because it was the #86 that caused it."
HTP Motorsport team boss Norbert Bruckner didn’t want to go into detail about the incident involving his car, saying only: “It wasn’t on the monitor. We saw it too late to react. We just took it as it is."
Barcelona BSS: Buhk and Baumann clinch overall title
Maximilian Buhk confirms 2017 season with AMG and HTP Motorsport