Nico Hulkenberg has been handed a three-place grid drop for next weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix after causing a collision with Williams’ Felipe Massa in Singapore on Sunday.
As Massa was exiting the pit lane, Hulkenberg came into the first complex of corners at the Marina Bay Street Circuit, and failed to realize that the Brazilian was on the apex of turn three.
Hulkenberg bumped into the side of Massa, causing their wheels to touch and sending the Force India driver into the wall where his race immediately ended.
The stewards acted swiftly to sanction Hulkenberg, handing him a grid drop and adding two penalty points to his FIA super licence.
“The driver of car 27 [Hulkenberg] had an open line of vision to car 19 [Massa] leaving the pits,” the stewards wrote. “Car 19 should have been left racing room.”
Speaking after the race, Hulkenberg was far from impressed by the stewards’ call, claiming that he did not get a chance to explain his side of the story.
“The accident with Felipe was very unlucky and I don’t understand why I’ve been given a penalty before there has even been the chance to discuss the incident in the stewards’ room,” Hulkenberg said.
“I saw Felipe coming out of the pit exit as I went through turn one, but I was ahead in turn three, I was on the racing line and I took the corner as usual.
“Then I felt the contact with my left rear and my race was over. In my view it was my corner and I’m surprised Felipe backed out of it much too late, locking up just before he hit me.”
Massa blamed Hulkenberg for the incident, claiming that he left him nowhere to go. The Brazilian was ultimately forced to retire from the race due to a gearbox issue.
“It was a very unlucky race for me,” Massa said. “My problems started with the collision I had with Hulkenberg after my first stop. I was braking for the corner and he turned his car in on mine, leaving me with nowhere to go, so we hit.
“This caused a slow puncture on my front-right tire and the extra pitstop put me back many positions. I then had a gearbox problem. I was changing gears from second to third and was getting neutral.
“It seemed to resolve itself but it happened again and I had to retire the car. It was one of those races where things just weren’t going my way. We need to concentrate on recovering some of our lost points at the next race.”