Stewards penalize Ricciardo, Magnussen and Bianchi

1 Comment

Daniel Ricciardo’s terrible afternoon in Malaysia has just got even worse after the stewards confirmed that he has been given a 10 place grid penalty for next weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix after an unsafe release from the pits.

Ricciardo had been enjoying a successful Malaysian Grand Prix after qualifying in fifth place and making a good start to lie fourth after the first round of pit stops. However, when making his third and final stop, there was a problem with fitting the front left tire on the RB10 car.

Ricciardo instantly stopped his car and was wheeled back to the pit box where it was correctly attached to the car, costing the Australian driver a lap. He then suffered a front wing failure before retiring with just five laps to go.

However, the stewards have taken a zero tolerance approach to unsafe releases ever since a cameraman was hit by a loose wheel at the 2013 German Grand Prix. As a result, Ricciardo has been given a 10 place grid penalty for the race in Bahrain.

Red Bull has also been called to the stewards office after one of its mechanics did not wear a helmet during the pit stop, which was in breach of standard safety procedure.

Smaller penalties have been handed to Kevin Magnussen and Jules Bianchi after incidents during the race today. Magnussen made contact with Kimi Raikkonen on the first lap at Sepang, giving the Ferrari driver a puncture and earning himself a five second stop/go penalty at a pit stop. However, the stewards have opted to also award him two penalty points that go on his FIA superlicense.

Bianchi also got two points on his superlicense for spinning Pastor Maldonado on the first lap at turn four.

The awarding of penalty points is a new rule for the 2014 season, with drivers receiving a one race ban if they have 12 or more points on their superlicense at any time.

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.”