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Formula 1

Three drivers get grid drops for violating new F1 pit exit rule

by Josh Suttill
3 min read

George Russell and Alpine duo Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly have each been handed a two-place grid penalty for Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix for impeding other cars in the pit exit in qualifying.

Russell was the first driver to fall foul of a new instruction that was included for the first time in the race director's notes at Interlagos this weekend.

"During shootout and qualifying, drivers may create a gap between the pit exit lights and the SC2 line," reads the instruction.

"Any driver who wishes to do so must drive as far to the left as possible to allow other drivers to pass them on the right side of the pit exit road."

Ocon and Gasly were subsequently found to have committed the same breach.

All three drivers were investigated for potentially breaching this rule and a couple of hours after qualifying were found to have broken both its "wording and spirit".

"In order to avoid situations like the ones that occurred in Mexico [where drivers impeded each other in the pitlane], the race director’s event notes for this event contained a specific clause [item 14] stipulating that it was permitted [for drivers] to go slow in the pit exit to create a gap before crossing the SC2 line, however, by doing so, a driver must stay as far to the left as possible to allow other drivers to pass on the right side," the stewards' verdict explained.

"Russell was exiting the pits, preparing for an out lap.

"Russell went slow to create a gap for a clear lap, but did not manage to stay completely to the left.

"As a result, following car(s) were not able to overtake, as intended by the race director’s instructions.

"This clearly violates the wording and the spirit of item 14 of the race director’s event notes."

The same wording was used in the verdicts confirming Ocon's and Gasly's penalties.

Gasly was one of the drivers held up by Russell, who said the Mercedes driver slowing in the pit exit was "f***ing dangerous".

All three penalties will be applied to the drivers' grand prix starting positions.

That means Russell is currently set to start eighth rather than the sixth place he qualified in on Friday. Ocon and Gasly are set to drop from 12th and 13th to 14th and 15th respectively.

Elsewhere, no further action was taken for third-place qualifier Lance Stroll exceeding the maximum delta time.

"The stewards determined that the driver took appropriate actions to not impede other drivers, and in all cases they slowed down significantly to allow other drivers to pass while giving those drivers a clear track," a stewards' statement said.

"In addition, the driver decided to pit at the end of the lap, reducing further their speed to enter the pitlane.

"The stewards therefore determine that the driver concerned did not drive “unnecessarily slowly”, and that evidently the reason they were above the maximum time was due to their appropriate actions."

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