Stewards summon Vettel, Sainz, Stroll - and Hulkenberg again

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari SF90. 07.09.2019.
ยฉ XPB 

The Italian Grand Prix race stewards are having a busy evening in Monza with a number of investigations that may yet shake-up the grid for tomorrow's race.

Sebastian Vettel has been summoned to explain an incident toward the end of the second stage of qualifying in which he left the track and gained an advantage.

That's a potential breach of Article 27.3 of the FIA Formula 1 Sporting Regulations, and could see Vettel handed a grid penalty that might cost him his second row start.

McLaren's Carlos Sainz and Racing Point's Lance Stroll have also been summoned by the race stewards for the same alleged breach of Article 27.4 of the rules which relates to driving unnecessarily slowly.

That's to do with the controversial moment in Q3 where drivers starting their final warm-up laps all slowed up significantly after Nico Hulkenberg went off at the first chicane.

The remaining cars led by Sainz and Stroll appeared to slow down significantly to wait for the Renault to get back on track, rather than be themselves forced to assume the lead track position which could cost them the chance of an all-important 'tow' on their push lap.

Hulkenberg had already been invited up for a chat with the race stewards to explain why he took to the escape road at turn 1. But after examining the evidence, the stewards decided that no further action would be taken over the incident.

"The Stewards reviewed video evidence, GPS data and radio communications and heard from the driver of car 27 (Nico Hulkenberg) and the team representative," a statement from the FIA explained.

Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Renault F1 Team RS19 and Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Renault F1 Team RS19 in the pits.

"The driver stated that he was focussing his attention on the cars that were behind him and that he left it too late to turn the corner so he went straight ahead into the chicane.

"The stewards noted that he entered the corner at the same speed as he did on his previous fast lap. He was also in 3rd gear instead of 2nd gear which he used on his previous out lap.

"The Stewards note that the regulation refers to 'deliberately' leaving the track and in this case we are unable to determine that the driver deliberately left the track."

"I was watching my mirrors too much," Hulkenberg subsequently told "We were all going slow at that point until everybody realised there's no time to go slow and it was all a bit tricky, a bit critical.

"It's just that the tow effect here is massive with the wake of the cars and nobody wants to be the first guy cutting through the air and that's the result of that, the side effect.

"Monza is probably the worst place for it," he added. "I don't expect it to be that extreme any more."

However Hulkenberg is still under scrutiny, as he has been added to the list of drivers (along with Stroll and Sainz) being investigated for driving unnecessarily slowly on their out lap.

More drivers may still get the call to visit the stewards office during the evening. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff candidly admitted: "If I were them, I would call them all!"

It means that the current grid for Sunday's race is even more provisional and subject to change than normal. We'll bring you news on the outcome when it's known.

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