The Russian Grand Prix stewards have explained why Stoffel Vandoorne has only been moved back one place on the starting grid despite incurring a five-place penalty for a gearbox change.
Vandoorne came 19th in yesterday’s qualifying session but originally moved up to 14th on the grid due to five drivers in front of him being sent to the back of the grid for power unit component changes.
This morning the stewards confirmed McLaren had fitted a new gearbox to Vandoorne’s car, incurring a five-place grid penalty. However he has only been moved back to 15th on the grid behind Lance Stroll.
The stewards ruled Vandoorne should maintain his position in front of those drivers who had been sent to the back of the grid for changing multiple power unit parts.
“Article 23.3b) of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations provides that if a driver incurs a penalty exceeding 15 grid positions in relation to power unit elements, he will be required to start from the back of the starting grid,” said the stewards in a note to teams.
“It further provides that if more than one driver receives such a penalty they will be arranged at the back of the grid in the order in which the offences were committed.
“However, Article 35.2c) provides that grid position penalties be applied in the order the offences were committed.
“This could lead to a situation where a driver who was not part of a group of drivers required to start from the back of the grid, could incur a penalty (for example a change of gearbox) which placed him behind those required to start from the back of the grid.
“We do not consider that such a car which has replaced one power unit element or a gearbox, should be placed behind those who have had multiple changes.
“This is consistent with the situation that applied at the 2018 Italian Grand Prix, namely that all those cars which are required to start at the back of the grid will be treated as one ‘group’ and will always start behind the other cars, not so penalised.
“At the 2018 Russian Grand Prix, five cars incurred the penalty of ‘starting from the back of the starting grid’. They should therefore occupy the last five positions on the grid.
“Accordingly, the stewards determine the starting position of car two will be immediately in front of the group of five cars which are required to start at the back of the grid.”
See the updated Russian Grand Prix starting grid
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