Sutil given three place grid penalty for impeding Hamilton

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Adrian Sutil has been handed a three place grid penalty for impeding Lewis Hamilton during qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza today.

The Force India driver was called before the stewards along with Hamilton for the incident that took place in the final minute of Q2 today, with the British driver believing that he was held up by the Force India on his quickest lap of the session.

Hamilton had failed to post a competitive time during his first run due to a mistake on the exit of Parabolica. However, when entering the same corner on his second run, he was forced to lift off in order to avoid hitting Sutil, thus costing him time that eventually saw Hamilton finish twelfth in Q2.

The result brings to an end Hamilton’s incredible run of sixty-seven consecutive top-ten qualifying results, but Sutil has paid the price for the incident after being penalized three positions on the grid by the FIA stewards.

As a result, Sutil will start tomorrow’s race in seventeenth position with Pastor Maldonado, Paul di Resta and Esteban Gutierrez all moving up one place on the provisional grid.

The appointed drivers’ steward for this weekend is former Indy 500 winner Danny Sullivan.

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”