'Exceptional circumstances' stop Red Bull, Force India demotion

© XPB 

Red Bull, Force India and Valtteri Bottas have avoided demotion on the grid for the Hungarian Grand Prix after the FIA felt there were "exceptional circumstances".

Article 35.1 of the Sporting Regulations reads: "During Q1, any driver whose best qualifying lap exceeds 107% of the fastest time set during that session, or who fails to set a time, will not be allowed to take part in the race. Under exceptional circumstances however, which may include setting a suitable lap time in a free practice session, the stewards may permit the car to start the race.

"Any driver accepted in this manner will be placed at the back of the starting grid after any other penalties have been applied.

"Should there be more than one driver accepted in this manner they will be arranged on the grid in the order they were classified in P3."

Due to wet conditions and a late red flag, 11 cars were outside the 107% time at the end of Q1. Of those cars, five - Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen, Nico Hulkenberg, Bottas and Sergio Perez - progressed to Q2, and all but Perez made it through to Q3.

Ricciardo and Verstappen qualified a provisional third and fourth, with Hulkenberg and Bottas in ninth and tenth respectively. However, if the FIA strictly enforced the regulation above, the 11 drivers in Q1 outside of the 107% time would have had to start from the back of the grid in FP3 order.

While the FIA invoked Article 35.1 for the six drivers which dropped out in Q1, it says "exceptional circumstances" mean Article 35.2 will supersede 35.1 for the five drivers who progressed.

Article 35.2 reads:

The grid will be drawn up as follows :

i)  The last eight positions will be occupied by the cars eliminated during Q1, the fastest in 19th position.

ii)  The next eight positions will be occupied by the cars eliminated during Q2, the fastest in 11th position.

iii)  The top ten positions will be occupied by the cars which took part in Q3, the fastest from the position on the grid which was the pole position in the previous year or, on a new circuit, has been designated as such by the FIA safety delegate.

There was no protest made against the decision, with Article 17.2 d) stating "Appeals may not be made against ... any decision taken by the stewards in relation to Article 35.1."

As a result, the grid remains the same of the qualifying order, as the six cars to drop out in Q1 - Jolyon Palmer, Felipe Massa, Kevin Magnussen, Marcus Ericsson, Pascal Wehrlein and Rio Haryanto - are already in FP3 order.

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