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Formula 1

Rejected protest denies McLaren Piastri penalty clarity

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
2 min read

The McLaren Formula 1 team’s desire for clarity over Oscar Piastri’s penalty in Austrian Grand Prix qualifying will go unfulfilled after its protest was deemed inadmissible.

The team sought answers for why Piastri had his fastest time in Q3 at the Red Bull Ring deleted for exceeding track limits at Turn 6.

McLaren felt that the FIA’s evidence – a helicopter camera and fixed camera – to judge Piastri’s track limits offence did not offer a clear enough view.

Its argument was that the low-resolution and shadowy nature of the imagery made it hard to determine he was outside the white line “beyond reasonable doubt” and lodged the protest so that the matter could be discussed further.

But there will be no hearing as desired because the protest has been dismissed.The FIA stewards said that the subject of the protest was not the results of qualifying but an in-session stewards’ decision (the deletion of a relevant lap time), which is not open to protest.

Furthermore, the stewards cited various technicalities that McLaren’s protest fell foul of, so its protest also failed to meet the required criteria for admissibility.

This relates to the protest being addressed to the clerk of the course and not to the chairperson of the stewards, that it did not specify any relevant regulations, and that it did not specify against whom the protest was lodged.

McLaren’s €2000 deposit is therefore forfeited and while it has the right to appeal, this seems unlikely given the stewards’ verdict was published very shortly after McLaren finally shared its Saturday media release confirming that Piastri will start seventh instead of third, behind both Mercedes and Ferraris.

Team boss Andrea Stella still said it looked like “a questionable approach to enforcing track limits”.

“It’s a long race and we will do our best to finish higher than the current P7 spot on the grid,” Stella said.

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