FIA throws out Williams bid to overturn Sirotkin penalty

The FIA has dismissed the Williams Formula 1 team’s request for a review of several Azerbaijan Grand Prix incidents, and issued a 10-point response outlining its reasons why.

FIA throws out Williams bid to overturn Sirotkin penalty
Sergey Sirotkin, Williams FW41
Sergey Sirotkin, Williams FW41 crashed on lap one
The crashed car ofSergey Sirotkin, Williams FW41
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL33 with puncture on lap one
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL33 Renault, Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren MCL33 Renault
Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team VF-18
Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team VF-18
Esteban Ocon, Force India VJM11
The crashed car of Esteban Ocon, Force India VJM11

Williams asked the FIA to examine the Baku incident that earned Sergey Sirotkin a grid penalty, other collisions that resulted in different punishments, and Fernando Alonso driving his damaged McLaren back to the pits on the opening lap.

The original four stewards – Garry Connelly, Tom Kristensen, Dennis Dean and Anar Shukurov – heard evidence from Williams’ legal counsel and FIA race director Charlie Whiting via a teleconference hearing on Tuesday morning.

They unanimously decided “that there is no new significant and relevant element present which justifies a review of any of the five incidents referred to in the request”.

The stewards gave 10 reasons for their decision in a detailed response.

They said Sirotkin rear-ending Sergio Perez, which resulted in a three-place Spanish GP grid penalty for the Williams driver, was "not similar to other first lap incidents where cars were side-by-side”.

The stewards said the fact the decision was not communicated until near the end of the race was irrelevant because this was “well before the time for any protest or appeal had expired”, and said this was mentioned in the context of Williams arguing that other incidents were not penalised or not penalised sufficiently.

They also noted that applying differing penalties or taking no further action over other incidents “cannot be regarded as a new element”, as is required for a review.

Two first-lap incidents in which no action was taken were queried by Williams.

After hitting Perez, Sirotkin clashed with Alonso in a three-wide moment also involving Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault, while Esteban Ocon ended up in the barriers after being hit by Kimi Raikkonen at Turn 3.

Williams also referred to Kevin Magnussen’s 10-second penalty and two licence penalty points for an incident with Pierre Gasly at the end of the race as “inconsequential”.

The stewards stated that there have been 87 recorded incidents of alleged ‘causing a collision’ since the start of the 2016 season, and 55 have resulted in no further action, 14 in 10-second penalties and nine in three-place grid drops for the next race.

They said this meant the penalties applied to Sirotkin, Magnussen and Marcus Ericsson (who hit Magnussen on the opening lap) were “entirely consistent with previous practice”, as were the cases that ended with no further action.

Williams’s “inconsequential” remark was dismissed because consequences of penalties have not been taken into account since a 2013 meeting between the FIA and representatives of the teams and drivers.

The stewards also said that their ‘no further action’ decisions were communicated before the publication of the results, which gave Williams “ample opportunities and time” to lodge an appeal where possible, but the team did not do so.

Williams also “chose not to exercise” its right to protest the FIA taking no decision over the Sirotkin/Alonso/Hulkenberg clash on the opening lap.

The questioning of Alonso’s recovery with punctured right-hand side tyres was dismissed after evidence from Whiting citing the presence of the safety car and the fact that Alonso “took care to avoid the racing line, avoid following traffic and minimised risk”.

The stewards made a second point about Alonso, claiming that Williams’ team on the pitwall and its mission control back at base would have noticed the McLaren returning to the pits, so it “cannot be argued that this is a “new element”.

Finally, the stewards said that Williams referred to media reports in its request for the review but they did not consider such reports “significant and relevant”.

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