Esteban Gutierrez has blamed miscommunication with his Haas engineers as the reason for his obstruction of Pascal Wehrlein in Free Practice 3.
Early in the session, Wehrlein had to take to the inside grass on the exit of Raidillion (Turn 4) to avoid Gutierrez who was on a slow down lap.
Wehrlein would take to the radio to vent his frustrations, saying: “What and idiot, what is he doing?”
The stewards deemed that Gutierrez was in breach of Article 31.5 of the Formula One Sporting Regulations and handed him a 5 place grid penalty. Gutierrez had qualified P13 but will be forced to start from P18.
The stewards also gave Gutierrez three penalty points for his super license, taking his total over the past year to 7 points. If a driver accumulates 12 points over a 12 month period they will be suspended for the following race weekend.
Following qualifying, Gutierrez would say: “there was a miscommunication that cost us a five-place grid penalty, which is obviously very painful, but we will try to put that aside.”
Guenther Steiner, the Team Principal of Haas also defended his driver saying the incident was caused by: “a communication issue with Esteban as he wasn’t made aware that Wehrlein was coming.”
Steiner also believes that the five-place grid penalty Gutierrez received because of the incident “is very unfair as there was no intention [to block] on his side.”
Gutierrez has been slammed on social media after he tweeted about the incident, saying: “Fun quali with good laps. Communication mistake in FP3 put us behind 5 places for the race, but we will fight back!”
@EstebanGtz communication mistake? They have these things called mirrors. You know that right?
— Winter (@Winter_Tactics) August 27, 2016
@EstebanGtz haha you call blocking a communication mistake what about all the other times you have done it, will cause a accident soon!!!!
— Danny Taylor (@DannyTaylor97x) August 27, 2016
@EstebanGtz you won’t be back in F1 again so enjoy this season all you can. Terrible terrible driver. Maldonado class
— Toon44No9 (@OldManTwix) August 27, 2016
These penalties are stacking up as Gutierrez is still yet to score points in 2016. Despite a P18 start, Gutierrez will need to bring home a string of good results to change the negative public opinion on him.