Penalty cost Switzerland possible victory in Mexico Neel Jani still extended his lead to 15 points For the Swiss team, the A1GP series event in Mexico City ended with a disaster. Shortly before the end of the feature race, Neel Jani was...
Penalty cost Switzerland possible victory in Mexico
Neel Jani still extended his lead to 15 points
For the Swiss team, the A1GP series event in Mexico City ended with a disaster. Shortly before the end of the feature race, Neel Jani was given a drive-through penalty for allegedly having obstructed the eventual winner Ireland (Adam Carroll) during the second pit stop. The detour through the pitlane cost the team a certain second place - and possibly even victory.
With six laps to go, Jani was still second, but he eventually was classified 19th. The decision by the clerk of the course deprived Switzerland of a comfortable margin in the nations' Cup of motorsport. In spite of all the setbacks, third place in the sprint race, which was won by New Zealand's Johnny Reid from Briton Oliver Jarvis, allowed Jani to extend his lead in the points' standings. With the two races in Shanghai next, the Swiss team is leading with 128 points from New Zealand (113) and France (108), the latter team remaining without any points in Mexico.
"The clerk of the course has made two decisions that are hard to understand", said an upset team principal Max Welti. "Anyone who knows something about racing, knows that Neel complied with the rules one hundred percent." Welti admitted to finding it difficult to accept the situation: "Already the decision to deploy the safety car on lap 26 after a minor driving error by New Zealander Johnny Reid amazed me. As a result, Neel was deprived of an advantage of almost seven seconds that he had already established at that point."
On lap 7, Jani overtook Canadian, Robert Wickens, who had started from pole position, in a convincing way. Problems occurred on lap 34 of 37, as Neel Jani and second-placed Carroll (IRL) came in for their second mandatory pit stop. For the Swiss team, the tyre change took a little bit longer than for the Irish, so that Jani and Carroll got back into the race almost at the same time. While leaving his position in the pit lane, the Swiss allegedly had remained too long on the acceleration line, as the stewards explained the subsequent drive-through penalty.
Neel Jani was more outspoken than his boss: "During the weekend, four disputable decisions have been made, and all of them against us. Had everything run fine, I could have secured the title already in Shanghai. But never mind. What doesn't kill us can only make us stronger."
The sprint race had to be stopped after one lap because of some collisions and debris on the track. The chaos was sparked by the poor start of pole-sitter Adrian Zaugg. The South-African slowed down and accelerated several times and thus started off a harmonica-effect at the back of the field.
When Zaugg got a puncture on lap 3, New Zealand took the lead with Johnny Reid. After that, a spin of Czech driver, Filip Salaquarda, in the chicane brought the safety car out for three laps. In the closing stages, Jani tried to get past Great Britain using the "powerboost" at the end of the main straight, but to no avail. Jani: "Third place is okay for me. The ten points that I got for this result may turn out to be very valuable at the end of the season."