Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn believes that Lewis Hamilton was penalized five grid positions for tomorrow’s Bahrain Grand Prix because of reasons beyond his control and thus, shouldn’t be punished.
In FP3 before qualifying on Saturday morning, Hamilton’s left rear tire blew out and caused additional damage to the suspension in that area of his machine. The team opted to change the gearbox as part of repairs, triggering the penalty from the FIA; Hamilton qualified fourth this afternoon, but will have to start ninth from the grid in tomorrow’s race (7:30 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Network).
Afterwards, Brawn called for another look at that particular regulation, saying that Hamilton had also made the same point to him.
“The difficulty we have in the future is where we get marginal cases where you have a problem, perhaps aggravated by the driver, and you don’t get a gearbox failure as such, but it needs to be changed,” said Brawn to reporters in Bahrain. “Then you get into these long debates…It is frustrating to get a penalty when there has been an outside influence. It’s annoying.”
“Fortunately it doesn’t happen too often, but if it were to happen at a critical part of the season then it would be doubly frustrating, so it’s worth looking at again.”
According to Alan Baldwin of Reuters, Pirelli has said in a statement that the left-rear tire had not suffered any structural failure. As for Hamilton, he basically shrugged at the situation.
“It doesn’t really matter,” the former World Champion told Reuters. “The rules are the rules. I got a penalty and I’ve just got to suck it up and deal with it.”
Dale Coyne Racing will field a third entry at the Grand Prix of Portland and the INDYCAR Grand Prix of Sonoma for former Haas F1 test and reserve driver Santino Ferrucci, the team revealed earlier on Friday.
Ferrucci previously raced with Coyne at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit, where he finished 22nd and 20th, and will drive alongside Sebastien Bourdais and Pietro Fittipaldi. The entry, the No. 39 Honda, will also feature sponsorship from Cly-Del, a Connecticut-based manufacturing company.
“I am extremely grateful to Dale (Coyne) and everyone at Dale Coyne Racing for giving me this opportunity to get back behind the wheel of an IndyCar in Portland and Sonoma,” said Ferrucci, who had been racing in FIA Formula 2 this year until it came to an unceremonious end in July.
Ferrucci continued, “I’m also excited to be bringing my long-time sponsor Cly-Del on board and introducing them to the world of IndyCar racing. I truly enjoyed my time with Dale Coyne Racing in Detroit earlier this season and I couldn’t be more excited to be back with them for a couple more races as I look to the future and enter the next chapter of my career.”
Team owner Dale Coyne highlighted the team’s experience with Ferrucci as a motivating factor in signing him up again for the final two races.
“We were very impressed with Santino at Detroit this year, and not just by his performance behind the wheel, but also by his professionalism and maturity outside of the race car,” said Coyne.
Coyne added, “We’ve had lengthy discussions with Santino in the past few months and we’re excited to have him back for the final two rounds of the season. We look forward to seeing what he will do with this opportunity as he gets back behind the wheel of an Indy Car. We’re also happy to welcome Cly-Del to our ever-growing family of sponsors.”