Adrian Sutil has been handed a five place grid penalty by the stewards after they deemed him to have blocked Romain Grosjean during qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix today.
The Sauber driver failed to make it past the first round of qualifying and finished 18th, meaning that this penalty will leave him last on the grid behind Marcus Ericsson and Max Chilton who had originally propped up the timesheets.
During the final minute of the session, Grosjean tried to pass Sutil down the back straight that leads to the final corner, but the German driver appeared to weave in front of him and compromise his lap time.
The stewards also opted to award Sutil two penalty points that go on his FIA superlicense as part of a new scheme for the 2014 season. Valtteri Bottas, Kevin Magnussen and Jules Bianchi have also collected two points for offences during the opening two rounds of the season.
Sutil was downbeat after qualifying given Sauber’s recent struggles, saying: “Today there was not much to achieve. However, making it into Q2 could have been possible. Unfortunately, we are still too slow on the straights, and I am personally struggling with the fact the car is overweight.”
The only other driver to have a grid drop is Daniel Ricciardo, who falls from third to 13th because of a penalty from the Malaysian Grand Prix last weekend.
Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.
Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.
Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.
“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.
“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.
“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”
Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.
“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.
“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”