“Communication problem” with front jack operator caused double penalty for Zhou

2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Alfa Romeo has explained the pit stop mix-up which led to Zhou Guanyu being penalised twice.

The rookie was given a five-second time penalty for an incident with Alexander Albon early in the race, which he attempted to serve during a pit stop.

However the stewards ruled that the team did not follow the correct procedure for serving the penalty, an infringement which can lead to disqualification. The stewards decided instead to require Zhou to serve a drive-through penalty.

“The stewards reviewed the video evidence and determined that car 24 came into the pit lane and stopped,” they explained. “But thereafter, it was jacked up by the team. Article 54.4(c) requires that ‘whilst a car is stationary in the pit lane as a result of a penalty in accordance with Articles 54.3(a)… it may not be worked on until the car has been stationary for the duration of the penalty’,” the stewards continued.

Zhou cut the track to pass Albon
“Although the team did not work on the car for five seconds after jacking the car up, the jacking up of the car itself would be ‘working’ on the car, which is prohibited by 54.4(c).

“Article 54.4(e) gives the stewards the discretion to disqualify a car for failure to comply with Article 54.4(c). However, given that no work was done while the car was jacked up, we considered that disqualification would be too harsh and outcome. We therefore imposed a drive-through penalty.”

Alfa Romeo’s head of trackside engineering Xevi Pujolar explained the error occurred when both drivers pitted together during the Safety Car period. Zhou followed team mate Valtteri Bottas into the pits, and the front jack operator was unaware the second car had to be left untouched while the penalty was served.

“The guy was not aware, the front jack was not aware that it was a five-second penalty, that’s why he touched the car,” said Pujolar.

Zhou was originally penalised for passing Albon off-track and failing to relinquish the position.

“The stewards reviewed the video evidence and determined that car 24 (Zhou) attempted an overtake on car 23 (Albon) by braking very late. In doing so, he locked up and was not able to remain on the track and he left the track to maintain his position. In doing so, he gained a lasting advantage and remained ahead of car 23.

“The advantage was not negated by giving the position back at the earliest available opportunity or at all.”

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2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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    10 comments on ““Communication problem” with front jack operator caused double penalty for Zhou”

    1. Poor front jackman dude. Must be a terrible feeling being completely responsable for something like that. Specially something so innocuous.

      But kudos to Zhou for his first 2 races. He’s been consistent, and points were on the table again without that double penalty.

      1. @fer-no65 I agree, but Zhou himself caused the original penalty.
        Consequently, without that, nothing would’ve happened at the pit stop either.
        The drive-through was, of course, the front jackman’s fault for failing with a small technicality.

        1. The penalty wouldn’t have been issued if he had given the position back, and the team could/should have instructed him to do so. Even the best drivers lock up and go off track at times, and that will sometimes mean the driver gains or fails to lose a position. As a rookie, this can be expected more often. Generally, the team would tell the driver they need to give it back, and a driver would normally not do so unless his team was in agreement that he must… Therefore I put a reasonable portion of the blame for the initial penalty on the team as well as Zhou himself.

          1. Fair point. He could’ve voluntarily let Albon repass immediately or his race engineer could’ve instructed.

            1. Zhou asked whether to give the position back in radio and instructed not to do so.

      2. Still he did a better job than FIA’s new race director.

        1. I think I can hear the Sauber mechanics screaming jack off.

    2. Mercedes is looking to hire Zhou’s pit crew as it would be a step up from their circus.

    3. correct me if i am wrong, but that was also under the safety car, so unless the rules have changed, it would have been incorect of him to serve his 5 second penalty at this time.

      it used to be (and i assume still is the case) that drive though and stop/go penalties had to be served during periods of open racing

    4. I was surprised that the SkyF1 announcers didn’t notice this during the pitstop. It was quite obvious that the jackman had lifted the car and the wheel guys waited for the penalty. When the signal was given to change the wheels, the jackman dropped the car and couldn’t get it back up, so the second jackman came in.

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