Nico Hulkenberg has lost his front row starting position for the Canadian Grand Prix after being given a three-place grid penalty for failing to slow sufficiently for red flags.
The red flag was shown in response to Oscar Piastri’s crash early in Q3. Hulkenberg had just crossed the finishing line when it was shown and failed to bring his speed down quickly enough in response to it, the stewards decided.
“The driver had just finished his fastest lap and had started another push lap,” the stewards explained. “He was at [turn one] when the red flag was displayed, however at that point he was already 1.5 seconds over his delta time. He claimed this made it extremely difficult for him to come below the delta in the next sector.”
Hulkenberg’s radio revealed he thought he was not driving quickly enough at one point. “He also admitted to confusion about the beep signal in his headset, and therefore at one stage thought he was going too slow,” said the stewards.
However the stewards took in mitigation the fact Hulkenberg’s driving was other wise in line with another driver who obeyed the speed limit, Esteban Ocon, and therefore did not issue the full 10-place grid penalty which is normally used for this kind of infraction.
“Comparison of telemetry with that of car 31 [Ocon] showed that in general for the rest of the lap he was approximately the same speed as car 31 which complied with the delta times in each mini-sector,” the stewards noted. “We regard this as a mitigating circumstance.
“However, the regulation is very clear and whilst there is no question of the driver acting dangerously or driving unsafely, there was a breach and thus a penalty has to be imposed. The normal penalty for failure to slow under red flags is 10 grid positions however in view of the mitigating circumstance, a lower penalty is appropriate. We note the intention of the regulation is to ensure a car is not speeding during a red flag situation and there is no evidence that the speed was excessive in this case.
“We also note that the driver should make himself more familiar with the operational aspects of the delta signals.”
Hulkenberg’s penalty means he will start fifth instead of second.
This article will be updated
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