They say that it never rains but it pours and for Danish GP2 racer Christian Bakkerud this certainly applies to today's race in Malaysia and to his GP2 Asia championship to date. Having qualified just outside the top ten on his first visit to ...
They say that it never rains but it pours and for Danish GP2 racer Christian Bakkerud this certainly applies to today's race in Malaysia and to his GP2 Asia championship to date.
Having qualified just outside the top ten on his first visit to the energy sapping Sepang circuit the Dane looked set to achieve his target of a top eight finish when disaster struck. Christian takes up the story - "I got a good start and decent opening corners which put me up to seventh but when we all arrived at turn four the rain descended in monsoon style and suddenly cars were spinning everywhere. Although I didn't go off myself I had to avoid others returning to the track after having off course excursions and this dropped me down to 20th by the time we made it back to the pits for a change to wet tyres. At this point the race was stopped and a restart ordered in wet but drying conditions. "
"On the restart I was making good progress and we had climbed back up to the fringes of the top ten when the circuit really dried out and it became obvious that slick tyres were required. My stop went okay and I didn't lose any ground but I struggled to bring the tyres up to temperature and as a result I made mistake and spun off."
"The marshals initially pushed me to a safer position and it was then that I asked one of them to see if they could bump start me as the engine had died when I spun off. It was difficult for them and they couldn't get enough speed to enable me to get the engine going again so I had to park my car. And that was that or so I thought..."
After the race was over Christian was summoned to appear before the Stewards who had raised a report in relation to the spin and bump start incident. Rather surprisingly the marshals claimed that Christian had disobeyed their orders and as a result the stewards have imposed a penalty to exclude Christian from tomorrow's race. The incredulous Dane commented - "I'm flabbergasted because when you spin off and the engine has died you are clearly being controlled by the marshals and all I have done is to request that once I was in a safer position that they would try to give me a push so that I could rejoin the race. Unfortunately there seems to have been a communication problem and it's their word against mine but the result is a massive blow for me and the Super Nova team. As drivers we need to know where we stand when our cars go off the circuit and we require assistance from the marshals. You see this in Formula One, the classic example being Lewis Hamilton who was craned out of the gravel trap and back into the race at last year's Grand Prix of Europe and this was accepted. Other drivers in the same gravel trap who asked for assistance were told to get out of their cars. Since then there has been an attempt to clarify the rules but I think it's clear from what happened to me today that there is still uncertainty and a great degree of unfairness. "
"We all work so hard to try to achieve results and it clearly costs a lot of money to compete at this level and sure if a driver makes a mistake and transgresses a sporting regulation then an appropriate penalty should be applied. But to exclude a driver from taking part in the next race for requesting a bump-start is that really fair and appropriate?"
Christian's Super Nova racing team were advised that any appeal would be unlikely to succeed and the cost of making an appeal would be a further Euro 25,000. Therefore unless the stewards review their decision Christian Bakkerud will not be racing in tomorrow's sprint race.