TEAM ROBBED OF PODIUM
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 25 November 2008
A1 Team Malaysia has been investigating the circumstances that led to Fairuz Fauzy making an extra pit stop in the Feature race at the A1GP Sepang event last weekend and this report outlines the findings. In addition, A1GP and its radio systems supplier are making a full investigation and the team is awaiting the outcome of this.
As the Feature race headed towards half distance A1 Team Malaysia was comfortably in third place, just four seconds behind the Portuguese car lying second and around 11 seconds ahead of A1 Team USA. It was on lap 17 that a series of radio communications resulted in an unnecessary pit stop for Malaysia, which left Fairuz rejoining the race in 14th place and making it impossible for the podium finish that the team had expected to celebrate.
Following the race, investigations were carried out to ascertain the sequence of events which led to this unfortunate situation and the following has been confirmed:
1. The team started to have radio transmission interference from around the start of the Sprint race at 11.05 am. During the time the cars were repositioned for the Sprint race restart after the accident between Teams USA, India and Brazil, nearly all transmission from and to the team's Technical Director and one other team member, on the one hand, and the rest of the team, on the other, failed. Action was immediately taken with these two team members' headsets being changed. When communications were resumed, as the team moved their locations beside the track, for the restart there were no further problems. However, it is believed that it was the change of location and not the replacement equipment that brought restored communication. There were no further communication problems during the Sprint race.
2. During the Feature race all communications between the driver and team, to and from the car, were poor. Transmissions between the team members were reported to be 'satisfactory -- normal'.
3. After the first pit stop Fauzy was experiencing too much over steer and attempted to communicate this to the team so that tyre pressures could be adjusted at the next pit stop. Transmissions to and from the car by the Chief Engineer and Fauzy were poor, with several attempts made to clarify the driver's request.
4. During this exchange, without any warning to the team, the Malaysian car drove into the pit lane, stopping in front of the garage momentarily. The team immediately signalled to Fauzy to continue through the pits and return to the race, resulting in a loss of around 40 seconds.
5. No further communications with the driver were required except for instructions to carry out a final pit stop, which was completed without problem. Fairuz completed the race in 10th position, scoring one World Cup of Motorsport point.
After the race the team debriefed with Fauzy, who reported that he had received a communication to make a pit stop. He followed the Team GBR car into the pit lane. The evidence that the team has gathered so far points to a "bleeding" of a radio transmission issued by Team GBR to their car in the previous lap. This was clearly heard by Fairuz, who followed what he thought was an instruction from the Malaysian team's Chief Engineer. Such communications are given in wide-spread racing terminology. We now know that Team GBR uses identical terms. Further enquiries are now taking place by the Series and the radio communications system provider.
Jack Cunningham, Chief Executive, said "As you can imagine, the team are hugely disappointed by this, knowing that our sponsors and fans had hoped for the kind of result that was clearly within our grasp. We had tremendous support at the track and can only imagine how confused the fans must be, but I hope we have now clarified the events of the Feature race and that they can now understand this now. In essence, we feel we have been robbed of a third place as we could have expected to have completed the second pit stop under normal conditions without incident and run at pace to the end of the race.
"We will be assisting the service providers with their investigation into this, as we believe will the Circuit, Team GBR and the Series. I think it is fair to consider that a podium place was taken from us."