Franco Colapinto, MP Motorsport, Formula Regional Europe, Monaco, 2021

Another junior driver fails to qualify in Monaco – but his weekend is over

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Alessio Deledda was controversially allowed to participate in today’s Formula 2 support race in Monaco despite failing to qualify. But Formula Regional Europe driver Franco Colapinto was less fortunate.

The Formula Regional Europe field held their qualifying sessions this morning. Like F2, the field was split into two different groups.

MP Motorsport’s Colapinto set the fourth-quickest time in session B. This was a vital result as, due to the 33-car entry list, only the top 12 drivers in each session were guaranteed to start both of this weekend’s races.

However Colapinto’s weekend took an unfortunate turn when his car failed its technical inspection after qualifying. According to his team the stewards “checked the steering rack in parc ferme and found that the two small spacers which were both installed on the car, were the wrong way round”. MP insisted this gave “no performance advantage to Colapinto”.

Franco Colapinto, MP Motorsport, Formula Regional Europe, Monaco, 2021
Colapinto was also due to race in Gulf colours
Nonetheless his lap times were deleted, which is standard procedure when a car fails to conform with the technical regulations. The same happened to Lando Norris at the same event five years ago in the Formula Renault Eurocup – fore-runner to the current championship.

Instead of lining up in pole position, Norris started the support race from the back of the grid. Colapinto was less fortunate, however: Due to the revised structure of the race weekend, while he was permitted to start one race from the rear of the field, he was forbidden from taking part in the other at all.

Unhappy with what it called a “harsh penalty”, and unwilling to risk his car in the pursuit of points from 28th on the grid in a single race, MP have withdrawn the 17-year-old from the weekend.

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“What happened today is a disgrace,” said MP team manager Sander Dorsman. “We feel devastated for Franco because he has done a good job so far this weekend. He has been working well with the team and progressing forward with every session.

“To be excluded from not only one race, but also sent to the back of the grid for the other race, really is a tough pill to swallow. The scrutineers and stewards of the FRECA championship should feel awful from penalising a driver in such a way on one of the most important weekends of Franco´s career.

“The decision to withdraw has not been taken lightly but it is clear with no way of appealing the decision of the stewards, that we will not take the risk of starting one race from last with no options to overtake in Monaco and the opportunity for taking any points.”

Colapinto, who along with team mate Oliver Goethe is running the colours of Gulf Oil on his car in connection with ROFGO Racing, said he was “devastated” not to be racing this weekend.

“The car felt great over the entire weekend and we had a strong qualifying which gave us high hopes for the races, but unfortunately, I won’t get the chance to prove myself on this circuit and I feel really sorry for my backers from MP and ROFGO. This was a special weekend for ROFGO because of the livery of my car being in Gulf Oil International’s iconic colours.”

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Keith Collantine
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10 comments on “Another junior driver fails to qualify in Monaco – but his weekend is over”

  1. Special livery strikes again.

    1. @paulk Clever tactics by McLaren, outsource the curse.

  2. For a misdemeanor like that, FIA should have allowed the washers to be simply re-installed correctly.
    Yes, rules are rules, but should incorporate leniency for non-performance enhancing irregularities.
    They should have run the car to honour Gulf Oil & this livery looks better than the F1’s.

    1. And yet they allowed the mobile chicane Deledda who at no point of the weekend was fast enough to not be a mobile chicane and endanger himself and others to start the race. Mental stuff! I think in motorsport they choose the stewards by the least amount of common sense criteria

      1. RandomMallard (@)
        22nd May 2021, 6:10

        @ancient1 I think the FIA have to presume that anything against the technical regs, no matter how small, must be presumed as a performance-gaining advantage. It may not be, but it sets a dangerous precedent if they allow it.

        @montreal95 These are two completely separate cases. Colapinto’s falls under the technical regulations, while Deledda falls under the sporting regs. I think the FIA are trying to show some leniency where they can on the sporting regs, and whether or not you agree with the Deledda decision, you have to take into account that he’s never driven Monaco in an F2 car before and he only got 45 minutes of practice.

        1. Well said @randommallard, though during the race there was no indication at all that Deledda actually improved so in hindsight I think they gave him too much slack/credit; shouldn’t happen again.

          1. RandomMallard (@)
            22nd May 2021, 8:56

            Yeah that is a good point. I didn’t expect much from the race for him tbh. I think the FIA generally give you a bit of leniency for the first failure to get within 107%, but after that they will become stricter and stricter.

    2. How do you know it’s not performance enhancing? Or even a safety issue?

      Maybe fitting the spacers the wrong way gives a benefit to the steering geometry? Maybe it means the parts are not installed securely?

      Rules are there for a reason. You take the consequences of breaking them, intentionally or unintentionally, on the chin. If you can overturn a decision by crying about how it isn’t fair and “taking your ball home”, you may as well not bother with the rulebook.

    3. Yes but if you allow the washers, then maybe you can allow the teams to change some skid pads in parc ferme, why even stop there, change whole weels, suspension components, the crash structures, anything. You can argue about anything that “it’s not a performance gain” but every rule is there for a reason. What if the washers hadn’t been up to standard? Should he have been still allowed to race after simply changing them to ones up to standard? If you just want to “let it slide” when a car doesn’t pass technical inspection (something that’s very clearly defined in the rules, mind you), then why do we even bother with a rulebook?

  3. An unfortunate outcome for the kid, but no more so than having a technical DNF during the race.

    Autosport is after all a team sport in which all members need to perform at all times during the weekend. It’s not just down to the person driving the car, even if he gets an undue amount of attention in the coverage of the event.

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