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Formula 1

Ricciardo's surprise Miami GP grid penalty explained

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
2 min read

RB driver Daniel Ricciardo will serve a grid penalty at Formula 1's Miami Grand Prix after re-overtaking Nico Hulkenberg under the safety car during the Chinese Grand Prix.

It came as a direct consequence of Ricciardo being hit by Lance Stroll during the initial restart from the safety car period caused by Valtteri Bottas's Sauber failing.

When a number of cars slowed down into Turn 14 at the end of the back straight coming up to the restart, Stroll clobbered into the back of Ricciardo, lifting the rear of the RB into the air and leaving both cars substantially damaged.

As the contact had taken both drivers wide, Haas driver Hulkenberg inevitably went past both - and, after a brief moment of hesitation given drivers aren't allowed to overtake before the start of the lap during a safety car restart, accelerated away from Ricciardo.

The race was suspended for another safety car period shortly afterwards.

According to the stewards, at that point Ricciardo decided that he was entitled to reclaim the spot from Hulkenberg - so went back ahead of him during the subsequent suspension of the race.

"The driver of car #3 [Ricciardo] admitted that he overtook car #27 [Hulkenberg] deliberately - but he explained that he felt that he could do so because car #27 [Hulkenberg] had overtaken him under safety car before. 

"We note that car #27 was permitted to overtake car #3 because of Article 55.8."

The article in question reads that "no driver many overtaken another car" under safety car conditions - but also lists exceptions.

Among those exceptions is the one listed in 55.8 h) - which creates the provision for a legal overtake "if any car slows with an obvious problem'.

Ricciardo's "obvious problem" was being punted off the track by Stroll, but as for him then re-passing Hulkenberg a lap after the safety car was called back out, the stewards found there was "no justifiable basis" for this to happen.

And since Ricciardo eventually retired the car due to damage, what would've been a 10-second penalty for the infraction instead became a grid penalty for Miami.

The Miami GP is a second successive sprint weekend, but the penalty is set to be served on the grid for Sunday's main event.

The infraction also gave Ricciardo his first two penalty points on his license for the current period.

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