Williams Racing has been left frustrated over the penalty handed to driver Sergey Sirotkin in Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix, as he received the harshest possible driver penalty for a mistake made by the team.
Sirotkin didn’t have his race tyres fitted three minutes before the start of Sunday’s race, yet he received a 10-second stop-go penalty; the same punishment that Sebastian Vettel got for dangerously driving into Lewis Hamilton during the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Having the tyres not fully fitted, which was caused by a faulty wheel gun, was deemed to be in breach of Article 36.4 of Formula 1’s Sporting Regulations by the stewards.
Regulations permitted the stewards to hand out one of four different penalties: a 5 or 10-second penalty served during a pitstop; a drive-through penalty; or the harshest of all, a ten-second stop-go penalty.
Sirotkin received the latter penalty, which Williams Chief Technical Officer Paddy Lowe thought “put him half a lap adrift of the pack”.
The penalty handed to Sirotkin directly compromised his performance in the Monaco Grand Prix, despite the tyre issue being completely out of his control.
“His race was ruined from that point on,” Lowe said.
The penalty that Sirotkin received was the exact same as what Sebastian Vettel was awarded in the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix when he deliberately made contact with Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes.
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“A bit of bad luck with the penalty following what went wrong on the grid,” Sirotkin said after the race.
The sporting regulations dictate that stewards must give out a driver penalty for an infringement of the three-minute tyre rule, despite the tyres being completely controlled by the team’s mechanics.
This type of penalty procedure differs from things such as pit-lane speeding, which is arguably a more common offence. In the Sporting Regulations, a pit-lane speeding penalty has a specific clause in the Article which defines a monetary fine, between 100 and 1000 Euros.
A similar clause, which could be appropriate for the three-minute tyre rule given that it’s outside the drivers’ control, is not currently present in the regulations.
Sirotkin finished the race in a lowly 16th position.
“He spent the afternoon in that situation suffering constant blue flags,” Lowe said.