Japanese GP: Busy weekend so far for the FIA Stewards at Suzuka
By Berthold Bouman
Already a busy weekend for the FIA Stewards at the Suzuka circuit where round 15 of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Japanese Grand Prix, takes place. This weekend ex-Formula One driver Derek Warwick represents the drivers and the Briton together with Lars Osterlind, Enzo Spano and Kazunari Yamanashi are, as it is officially called, the Stewards of the Meeting this weekend.
On Friday Kimi Raikkonen was fined 2,200 Euro for speeding in the pit lane, Dutchman Giedo van der Garde, who took over Heikki Kovalainen’s Caterham during the morning session, was found guilty of the same offence and was fined 400 Euro. Marussia’s Charles Pic was under investigation as his car ‘did not stay to the right of the bollard located on the left at Pit Entry’, but no further action was taken.
Jenson Button used a new gearbox during the final free practice session on Saturday morning, and thus received a five-place grid penalty for tomorrow’s race. On Friday McLaren’s Paddy Lowe had said that the team’s gearbox problems were over, but apparently he was wrong, and it will be another tough weekend for Button.
Also during Practice 3 Pic received a penalty for ‘impeding Car 4 [Lewis Hamilton] between Turns 15 & 16 [last chicane], a breach of Article 31.7 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations, the Frenchman received an official reprimand.
Next on the list is Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg, who also had a new gearbox for qualifying, and also received a five-place grid penalty as gearboxes are required to last for five consecutive events. His team was forced to change the gearbox after the German had crashed during Practice 3.
Hulkenberg commented, “I’m in the car, so I’m responsible for what happened. It wasn’t a silly mistake, just a small lock-up and with the way that corner is, there was no way to recover it. The timing was pretty bad and now we have to deal with the situation as best as we can.”
Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne received a three-place grid penalty for impeding Car 19 [Kovalainen] at Turn 16.
But by far he most tricky decision for the FIA Stewards to make involved pole sitter Sebastian Vettel, who was under investigation for blocking the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso during the closing stages of qualifying. An official FIA statement read, “The driver of Car 1 impeded Car 5 at Turn 16.” Vettel was involved “in an incident as defined by Article 16.1 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations.” The German was lucky and only got an official reprimand for his action.
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