Petty officialdom or deserved decisions? Five drivers stripped of wins in 2024

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Racing series are often at pains to avoid changing results after the chequered flag falls – especially when it comes to naming a new winner.

But although the 2024 motorsport season is still young, five drivers have already lost victories due to post-race stewards’ decisions.

Are over-zealous officials needlessly robbing drivers of deserved wins? Or are these five unconnected and justified decisions?

Josef Newgarden

IndyCar, Grand Prix of St Petersburg

Josef Newgarden, Penske, IndyCar, St Petersburg, 2024
Newgarden’s dominant drive at the start of the IndyCar season was a mirage

When Josef Newgarden stormed to victory in the opening race of the new IndyCar season, it looked like a declaration of intent by the two-times champion for the campaign ahead. Then came last week’s shocking news.

Over six weeks after the chequered flag dropped on the season-opener, IndyCar announced Newgarden and Penske team mate Scott McLaughlin (originally third) had been disqualified for using their push-to-pass systems when they were supposed to be disabled. The push-to-pass systems were unlawfully enabled on all three Penske cars, but Will Power escaped disqualification because he hadn’t activated his outside of the prescribed times.

Had this happened in F1, there’s a good chance all three would have had the same sanction. Non-compliance with the technical regulations in the world championship almost invariably leads to disqualification.

Even so, by IndyCar’s standards, the penalties were arguably stiff: Other drivers have failed technical inspections yet kept their wins, notably Justin Wilson at Texas in 2012 (non-compliant parts) and Sebastien Bourdais at Milwaukee in 2015 (underweight).

But there was arguably a political dimension to this case. Those past wins were rare triumphs by underdog teams. Had IndyCar been that lenient on Penske – not merely a powerhouse operation but the team of series owner Roger Penske – the uproar would have been greater still.

Richard Verschoor

Formula 2, Jeddah Corniche Circuit sprint race

Richard Verschoor
Both Trident’s cars, including the one which won, were disqualified in Jeddah

Penske’s error allegedly involved the use of software devised for testing the series’ forthcoming hybrid power units. A software error also cost Richard Verschoor victory in the third race for Formula 2’s new cars.

After his win, the stewards discovered the team had used an outdated 2023-specification throttle pedal progressivity map, which determines how much power is delivered as the driver presses the accelerator. Both Tridents were using the old map and therefore had to be disqualified. Dennis Hauger inherited victory from Verschoor.

While cars’ physical dimensions have been governed by the rules for years, restrictions on software specifications is a more recent addition to the regulations, and gives teams another challenge to master.

Other teams have also run into technical trouble with the new cars. Invicta’s Kush Maini lost pole position for the first feature race of the year when an undertray strake failed its inspection after qualifying.

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Doriane Pin

F1 Academy, Jeddah Corniche Circuit race two

Doriane Pin
Prema slipped up by failing to notice Pin had won

Verschoor wasn’t the only driver in one of the support categories to lose a win during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend. Doriane Pin dominated proceedings in the opening round of the F1 Academy championship, leading every single lap, but only got to keep one of her two wins.

Pin led Abbi Pulling to the line by just under two seconds in the second race. But while Pulling backed off and cruised in after taking the chequered flag, Pin remained flat out and completed another lap.

This was a failure by driver and team, and the latter deserved the majority of the blame. Pin didn’t see the flag, which was somewhat obscured by circuit furniture, and her experienced Prema team somehow failed to realise she was still driving flat-out for two minutes after she finished. The resulting time penalty, which cost her victory, looked inevitable well before she finally pulled up at the finishing line having belatedly realised her mistake.

Isack Hadjar

Formula 2, Melbourne sprint race

Isack Hadjar, Campos, Formula 2, Albert Park, Melbourne, 2024
Hadjar’s Melbourne penalty was highly debatable

Two drivers have lost wins in Formula 2 this year. While Verschoor’s was a straightforward technical infringement, Isack Hadjar’s penalty in Melbourne was more contentious.

He was one of three drivers involved in a collision which occured immediately after the race started, and resulted in Pepe Marti and Gabriel Bortoleto spinning into the barrier after the pit lane exit.

Stewards have in the past been more lenient on collisions which occur after standing starts, or even ignored them completely as in the case of the F1 race at the same circuit a year earlier. But on this occasion they came down hard on Hadjar, handing him a 10-second time penalty which dropped him to sixth.

He gained some recompense in the feature race the next day, however, which he won thanks to a conveniently-timed Virtual Safety Car.

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Antonio Felix da Costa

Formula E, Misano EPrix race one

Antonio Felix da Costa, Porsche, Misano, 2024
Porsche and Formula E are at loggerheads again

Antonio Felix da Costa’s disqualification from the first of Formula E’s two races at Misano earlier this month remains provisional, as his Porsche team has appealed against the decision.

He was stripped of his victory after the stewards ruled a throttle damper spring used in his car was not an approved part. Porsche claim the part in question had been used previously.

It’s the second major clash between Porsche and the FIA over the Formula E rules. Last year Porsche failed in its efforts to overturn a three-minute time penalty which cost Da Costa second place in the first race in London.

More to come?

Race organisers may not like changing the result after the crowd has begun to leave, but it’s an inevitable feature of motor sport and one which may become more likely as the rule book grows thicker and more complex.

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2019
Penalty cost Vettel victory to Hamilton
F1 last experienced the anger which accompanies a post-race change of winner when Sebastian Vettel lost victory in the 2019 Canadian Grand Prix due to a five-second time penalty for rejoining the track unsafely in front of Lewis Hamilton, who became the winner. But it’s seen other major post-race place changes since, not least Hamilton and Charles Leclerc’s disqualification from second and fourth respectively in last year’s United States Grand Prix, and the avalanche of penalties in the evening after the Austrian Grand Prix.

The Newgarden case highlighted another potential emerging feature of post-race penalties: Sanctions which are announced and imposed long after the race. The Cadillac which finished fifth in the opening round of the World Endurance Championship was disqualified 26 days later.

But those two examples would be utterly overshadowed if Felipe Massa succeeds in his attempt to reopen the book on the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix…

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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12 comments on “Petty officialdom or deserved decisions? Five drivers stripped of wins in 2024”

  1. notagrumpyfan
    1st May 2024, 7:41

    Felipe Massa succeeds in his attempt to reopen the book on the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix

    Does anybody know the status and possible timeline of this court case?

    Has it been judged admissible yet (with FIA being based in France)?

    1. I think the claim has been issued, but the backlogs affecting the English court system mean it could be months or even years before the case is heard.

  2. Stewards have in the past been more lenient on collisions which occur after standing starts, or even ignored them completely as in the case of the F1 race at the same circuit a year earlier.

    Except for Sainz, who had the least severe incident and was the only one penalized. That was among the worst bits of officiating in quite a while.

    I didn’t see Hadjar’s race, but Pin’s DSQ was rather unfair given that the finish flag was very poorly waved and not even all that visible. I suppose it’s technically a correct decision, but some leeway would have been appropriate.

    1. You’re basically asking Sainz to be excused because the order was reset to before the chaos (which he started) and because the lenient 5-second penalty had an outsize impact on his final position.

      1. In Indycar, during the race, penalised drivers can be ordered to drop a specific number of positions, so perhaps F1 could provide stewards the option to do that in unusual circumstances like Sainz’s, in order to make the penality proportionate. Then again, I’m not that keen on making the F1 rules more complicated than they are already.

  3. Newgarden – totally deserved. Intentionally cheated, then blatantly lied. The DSQ is maybe even too lenient in my eyes
    Verschoor – unfortunate mistake by the team. What can you do?
    Pin – huge mistake by both her and her team. A big shame after a dominant weekend.
    Hadjar – I don’t really like Hadjar and I like Stanek, but this was just bad from the stewards. I would call the collision a racing incident, but giving him 10 sec, when the usual 5 sec was still enough for a victory, does not look good
    Da Costa – Half of the field could have been DSQ for the same infridgement at any race. It’s just unfortunate it felt on Antonio.

  4. Had IndyCar been that lenient on Penske – not merely a powerhouse operation but the team of series owner Roger Penske

    How is this even remotely fair? It’s like if Domenicali had his own team competing in F1.

  5. Jonathan Parkin
    1st May 2024, 13:55

    On the Sebastian Vettel example, I’m on the fence with this.

    I don’t disagree with the penalty, in the old days around the 2000’s you could be given a penalty if you retained a place you would have lost because you skipped a corner just like what happened to Sebastian.

    However I do disagree with when it was issued. Again in the old days the only penalty to hand was a ten second stop-go which had to be served within three laps. Not only that the stewards had a time limit imposed on how long they needed to take before making a decision.

    I didn’t watch the GP in question, so someone will have to remind me when the incident occurred, but I believe there was plenty of time left in the race for the stewards to make their decision and issue the penalty

    1. Vettel actually got the penalty while the race was running and it was known he would lose the win if Hamilton was within 5 seconds.
      This was the occasion where he famously moved the No1 board in front of his car after getting out.
      Never understood the controversy around that one – it was a clear penalty and they applied the most lenient option available.

  6. I still think the Pin one was harsh. Not her fault. Especially with; as you say; “circuit furniture”. The track should be looking at themselves on this one too. Given that there were so many extenuating circumstances, I feel the win should not have been taken away, and a lighter punishment would have been more fitting.

    1. I don’t know how this is going down in history as described here rather than a complete failure by the race organisers.

      You can’t see a flag that can’t be seen (which was clear from onboard) not “partially obscured”. The guest flag-waver did not do their job, didn’t wave the flag, arm not extended out the box.

      The team messed up also, celebrating as they did, but they should have protested. A driver should not have to be told the race is over by the team due to an invisible checkered flag.

  7. IndyCar penalties were much too lenient. Cars were setup to cheat and the drivers all used the illegal setup.

Comments are closed.