Renault F1 protege Rowland hits out at “ridiculous” penalty

Renault Formula 1 development driver Oliver Rowland has been handed a penalty following the first Formula 2 race in Baku that drops him to seventh in the final classification. 

Renault F1 protege Rowland hits out at “ridiculous” penalty
Oliver Rowland, DAMS
Oliver Rowland, DAMS
Oliver Rowland, DAMS
Oliver Rowland, DAMS
Oliver Rowland, DAMS, Sergio Canamasas, Trident, Charles Leclerc, PREMA Powerteam
Podium: race winner Charles Leclerc, PREMA Powerteam, second place Nyck De Vries, Rapax, third place Nicholas Latifi, DAMS

The DAMS driver had risen from ninth on the grid to finish fourth behind his title rival Charles Leclerc, Nyck de Vries and his teammate Nicholas Latifi.

But the Briton was given a 10-second time penalty as the stewards deemed he had failed to slow for yellow flags that had been brought out following Nabil Jeffri's crash at Turn 7 midway through the feature race.

"I backed off like six-seven tenths on the data, so more than enough," said Rowland. "But the fact that I'd not done a [personal best] sector before that meant that I went green in that sector, which is like a 50-second sector. 

"So it's a bit silly, the penalty, and they agreed with me, [plus] in F1 they have mini-sectors."

Three other drivers were given in-race time penalties for failing to slow for yellow flags in an incident-filled event.

"They just said that because they'd penalised the others they had to penalise me as well," said Rowland.

"The ironic thing was that I think Leclerc was three tenths quicker than me in that sector but didn't go green. 

"The people around me did the same sector but because they didn't go green they didn't get penalised.

"It's absolutely ridiculous and to be fair to the stewards they said 'look we understand it's not really that fair and that at this sort of level we need something a bit better' and they're going to look into that.

"I understand from their side they have to give equal treatment to everybody, so I get that but it's a bit wrong in some ways. 

"But that's the way it goes sometimes so I can't really dwell on it too much." 

Title bid damaged by decision

The decision means Rowland is now 28 points behind Ferrari F1 junior driver Leclerc in the championship standings – he had been 22 adrift of the Prema racer before the penalty –  but he will now start tomorrow's sprint race from second place.

"I'll try and get into the lead and just get away," he said.

Johnny Cecotto, who crashed out early in the race after stalling on the grid and being restarted in the pitlane, has been given a five-place sprint race grid penalty for speeding in the pitlane moments before his shunt.

As the Rapax racer had been due to start last anyway he will now be forced to start race two from the pitlane.

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