Vettel, Alonso and Magnussen cleared of infringements

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Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Kevin Magnussen have all been cleared of any wrong-doing by the FIA race stewards following qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix today.

All three drivers were called before the stewards after the final part of qualifying for alleged infringements during the session that may have resulted in a grid penalty.

Alonso was accused of blocking Esteban Gutierrez during the wet-dry first part of qualifying today at Albert Park. The Sauber driver failed to make it through to Q2, qualifying down in 19th place and finishing over nine-tenths of a second off of the required time. However, upon analyzing the telemetry and video footage, the stewards deemed that Alonso had not impeded Gutierrez and did not penalize him.

Both Vettel and Magnussen were called to the stewards’ office for going too quickly through the yellow flag zone at turn four at the end of Q2. During the final minute of the session, Kimi Raikkonen spun his Ferrari in the wet conditions, bringing out the yellow flags. Under the rules, drivers must slow down through a yellow flag zone, meaning that none of the drivers were expected to improve their times on their final lap because of this.

Nevertheless, Magnussen still managed to improve and get into Q3, whilst Vettel bettered his time to move up to P12. After qualifying, both drivers were called before the stewards under suspicion of not acknowledging yellow flags.

However, neither driver was found guilty and no grid penalties were imposed. The explanations offered by both drivers and supporting video footage was deemed suffice to clear their names.

Therefore, the grid remains as per qualifying, with the exception of Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Gutierrez’s grid penalties after both made a gearbox change. Magnussen will start from fourth, Alonso will line up one place further back in fifth, and Vettel will start way back down in P12.

Porsche pulls GTLM cars from Mid-Ohio because of COVID-19 positives

Porsche Mid-Ohio COVID-19
David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Porsche will skip Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race with its two GTLM cars at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course after three positive COVID-19 tests were confirmed during the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

That resulted in Porsche choosing to pull out of the Nurburgring 24 Hour endurance race in Germany, electing to avoid sending any team members as a precautionary measure.

Porsche Motorsport announced Tuesday that its COVID-19 decision also would apply at Mid-Ohio to its No. 911 and No. 12 teams.

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Three of Porsche’s four IMSA GTLM drivers — Laurens Vanthoor, Frederic Makowiecki and Nick Tandy — also were racing in Le Mans. The trio has remained isolated in Europe and won’t be allowed to travel.

“Based on yesterday’s decision that no employee or racing driver of our Le Mans team will participate in the Nürburgring 24 Hours, we have today decided that this ruling will also apply to the upcoming IWSC race in Mid-Ohio,” Fritz Enzinger, vice president for Porsche Motorsport, said in a release. “This means that Laurens, Nick and Fred will not be traveling to the USA.

“This is very regrettable, but we would like to emphasize that in this case as well the health of all those concerned is the prime focus of the decisions we have taken.”

The decision also affects Earl Bamber, who teamed with Vanthoor to win the GTLM championship last year in the No. 912.

Porsche said its GTLM Porsche 911 RSR-19 entries will return for the Oct. 10 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

That will reduce the GTLM class to four cars — two Corvettes and two BMWs — this weekend at Mid-Ohio, in what could be somewhat of a 2021 preview. Porsche Motorsport announced earlier this year that it will leave IMSA after the 2020 season because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.