McLaren's Fernando Alonso has been given a five place grid demotion penalty at the Hungarian Grand Prix after stewards investigated a pit stop incident in qualifying in which he apparently deliberately held up Lewis Hamilton. It was judged that he...
McLaren's Fernando Alonso has been given a five place grid demotion penalty at the Hungarian Grand Prix after stewards investigated a pit stop incident in qualifying in which he apparently deliberately held up Lewis Hamilton. It was judged that he had impeded his teammate and therefore he loses pole position and will start from sixth and Hamilton will start from pole.
It was nearly midnight in Hungary before the stewards announced the decision. McLaren was also informed that it will not be allowed to keep any constructors' points it might score with either car on Sunday. The team has appealed so the constructors' standings, in the event that McLaren scores, will remain provisional until the case is heard at the International Court of Appeal.
After qualifying McLaren held a press briefing in which team principal Ron Dennis gave an explanation of events in the run up to Alonso's pit stop. It had been decided that Alonso should be ahead of Hamilton in the fuel burning phase of the last session but as it happened it was Hamilton that was at the front of the pit exit queue with Alonso behind. McLaren asked Hamilton to let Alonso past on the first lap but he refused.
This meant, according to Dennis, that the drivers were out of sequence, which subsequently had an effect on the pit stops. During his second stop Alonso was in his box with Hamilton waiting behind; the lollipop was raised for Alonso to exit but he was stationary for a further 10 seconds before leaving. The delay meant that Hamilton did not reach the line to start another flying lap before the chequered flag.
The stewards asked the team why they informed Alonso while still on track that during his stop on the next lap he would be held for 20 seconds, but also told Hamilton to pit on the next lap. McLaren said that it was not unusual to give an estimated time for a pit stop and that the car was held for 20 seconds in order that it could be released at a convenient moment in regard to other cars on track.
Alonso was questioned as to why he waited a further 10 seconds before leaving the pit box and he said he was asking if the correct tyres had been put on the car -- apparently this discussion did not take place during the 20 second holding period because he could not use the radio while the countdown to leave was being given to him.
The stewards did not accept either the team's or Alonso's explanations and deemed that he had "unnecessarily impeded" Hamilton. Therefore he was awarded a five place grid demotion penalty. McLaren's actions were judged to be "prejudicial to the interests of the competition and to the interests of motor sport generally" and the team will not be allowed to keep any points it might score in the race.
A date has not yet been confirmed for the appeal hearing.
See also: Alonso on pole for Hungarian GP