Sargeant: Zero feedback from FIA on Safety Car infraction ‘strange’

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Logan Sargeant was penalized for an illegal overtake under the Safety Car regime in the Chinese Grand Prix, but what frustrated most the Williams driver was the complete lack of communication over the situation.

The incident unfolded during the caution period triggered by Valtteri Bottas' stranded Sauber. Sargeant found himself approaching Turn 1 on the main straight as Nico Hulkenberg’s Haas was emerging from the pits after a tyre change.

Replays showed that Hulkenberg had crossed the designated safety car line a fraction of a second ahead of Sargeant.

However, due to his superior speed, Sargeant was under the genuine impression that he held the advantage, the American slotting into position ahead of the Haas.

As the race unfolded, neither the Williams pit wall nor the FIA communicated any concerns about the maneuver. But to Sargeant's surprise, a 10-second penalty was slapped on him by the stewards after the race resumed for an infringement of the Safety Car rules.

Sargeant admitted that it wasn’t easy spotting well in advance a car exiting the pits, but he was especially bewildered by the complete absence of any information regarding his transgression.

“There's a bit of elevation there as well and I guess it just makes things hard to see when cars are split by quite a big distance,” he explained.

“To my side, I thought I was way ahead. I didn't think it was even close so, to me, it was no discussion. So, to hear about that at the end of the race was a bit strange. I don't know if there's any way the FIA could maybe give us some feedback.

“We were under safety car for ages, I don't know why they didn't just tell me to give the position back. Obviously, I would've done so, had they said, but to my knowledge, I thought I was way ahead.”

Sargeants’s 10-second penalty didn’t take anything away from the American who crossed the checkered flag in 17th position where he was classified in the race’s final standings.

After a challenging qualifying on Saturday, Williams opted to pull Sargeant’s car out of parc fermé to modify the FW46’s settings in a bid to improve its race pace.

Overall, it was mixed bag for the American.

“There were good moments, bad moments,” he said. “I think the start of the race on the softs was strong and when we put on the medium tyre, we were in a really good place.

“But we probably could've done without that safety car because we would've gone medium, medium and that would've suited us much better.

“We put the hard tyre on, and I couldn't even get it to switch on, and immediately destroyed the fronts.

“From that point on, it was a massive, massive struggle. Bit confused about that last stint and probably one of the most painful ones I've had. We will see if we can do better going forward.”

Unfortunately, Sargeant’s in-race 10-second penalty was accompanied by two penalty points added to his licence.

His current tally of eight points has put him within four points of an automatic one-race ban, a risk he will carry until next September’s Italian Grand Prix.

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