Piastri loses front row start with three place grid penalty

© XPB 

Oscar Piastri has been handed a three place grid penalty for tomorrow's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix after being found to have impeded Haas driver Kevin Magnussen during the first round of qualifying.

Piastri was released from his pit box by the team and emerged from pit lane just aead of Magnussen who was commencing a flying lap. Magnussen was forced to take avoiding action which cost him a chance of setting a fast lap.

Magnussen ended up missing the cut at the end of the round and will start the race from 18th place. Piastri made the cut and went through to finish qualifying in second place putting him on the front row of the grid.

But the penalty will drop him to fifth and promote his McLaren team mate Lando Norris up to second. The second row will become an all-Ferrari affair with Charles Leclerc starting from third and Carlos Sainz fourth.

Piastri argued that the nature of the pit exit at Imola meant he was unable to see the approaching Haas and that the team hadn't warned him about Magnussen's approach until it was too late.

But the stewards said that the team's failure to inform Piastri was sufficient to constitute "unnecessary impeding" worthy of a three place grid penalty for tomorrow.

"It is a shame to lose the front row and have to start from P5 as it’s not the easiest track to overtake on," Piastri said. "However, we will try our best to recover some positions and fight to finish on the podium," adding: "The confidence is high!"

the official statement from the stewards concluded that "Piastri was exiting the pits and Magnussen was on his fast lap. Piastri impeded Magnussen at the chicane at Turns 2 and 3.

Oscar Piastri (AUS) McLaren MCL38. 18.05.2024. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 7, Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Imola, Italy, Qualifying Day. - www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com © Copyright: Charniaux / XPB Images

"The Stewards accepted the explanation of Piastri that because of the layout of the circuit at that location, he could not see Magnussen until it was too late, at which time he tried to accelerate away in order to get clear of Magnussen as quickly as possible.

"Magnussen acknowledged that it was difficult for drivers to see cars behind in many portions of the track, including here.

"However, the Stewards reviewed the team radio and Piastri’s team did not warn him of the much faster approaching car until Magnussen was too close for Piastri to do anything to safely avoid impeding.

"In fact there was an approximately 140km/h speed differential and Magnussen was only approximately 40-50m behind at the time and this meant that Piastri was in the middle of the chicane when Magnussen caught up directly behind Piastri.

"Further, it was clear that Magnussen was on a fast lap since his exit of Turn 19," the stewards statement added. "[We] also reviewed where other drivers were warned of approaching cars and it was significantly earlier, and they were able to avoid impeding at Turn 2/3.

"Traffic management for slower cars is an extremely important part of the team/driver combination, particularly in Q1. In this instance the Stewards determine that the lack of sufficient warning caused an 'unnecessary impeding.'"

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