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Belgian GP: Maldonado gets three-place grid penalty for blocking


By Berthold Bouman

The FIA Stewards had a busy day at Spa-Francorchamps today, earlier Grand Prix Journal reported both Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg were given a five-place grid penalty, which means Webber will start from 12th place and Rosberg from 23rd place on the grid tomorrow (if there are no further grid penalties).

Three-place grid penalty for Maldonado

But also Pastor Maldonado, who qualified in third place this afternoon, has incurred a three-grid penalty for blocking the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg at Turns 18 and 19 (the ‘bus stop’ chicane) of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

Maldonado was found guilty of breaching “Article 31.7 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations.”

The FIA statement further read, “The driver of Car 18 was warned by his team not to “hold up” Car 12 which was behind him, yet he clearly did impede Car 12. However as Car 12 continued into Q2 a more severe penalty was not considered appropriate.”

Maldonado will now start from sixth spot and has not yet commented on his penalty, also Kimi Raikkonen has been under investigation of the FIA Stewards as his #9 Lotus briefly left the track during qualifying. The Stewards therefore concluded he had been in breach of “Article 2(c) of Chapter IV of Appendix L of the FIA International Sporting Code.”

However, the Stewards will not impose a penalty as they concluded, “Although Car 9 left the track at Turns 3 and 4 (not only on this lap but also on another lap in Q3) a detailed examination of telemetry and sector times clearly indicate there was no advantage gained because the exit speed was shown to be slower than on other laps where the car did not leave the track.”

Sebastian Vettel was fined 10,000 Euro for making a practice start after the third free practice session this morning. According to the FIA statement, “The driver performed a practice start in the Pit Lane contrary to item 10.1 of the Race Director’s notes of August 30 2012.”

And, “In mitigation of the penalty is the fact that the team and driver immediately realised their error and reported it to the Race Director. The Team also reported that the “Lollypop Man” was performing this role for the first time.”

FIA Stewards at Spa this weekend are Garry Connelly, Steve Chopping, and the drivers are represented by former Formula One driver Eliseo Salazar.

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