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On thin ice: Is Ferrucci's F1 career over after Formula Two ban?

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On thin ice: Is Ferrucci's F1 career over after Formula Two ban?
By:
Jul 18, 2018, 12:11 PM

There are variety of reasons why a driver fails to make the step up to Formula One; lack of results, running out of finances, bad luck, and sometim...

There are variety of reasons why a driver fails to make the step up to Formula One; lack of results, running out of finances, bad luck, and sometimes poor attitude.

After a difficult opening half of the season in Formula Two, could Santino Ferrucci’s career be over before he’s had the chance to recover?

The Haas development driver received a four-race ban after being judged to have broken several regulations whilst competing in the Formula Two Championship at Silverstone, including intentionally driving into his team-mate, who is fellow Haas development driver Arjun Maini.

The young American has had a lacklustre season in Formula Two; he’s only managed a couple of points finishes and is being out-scored by his slightly less experienced team-mate.

At Silverstone, Maini was the quicker driver. Qualifying almost a full second quicker than Ferrucci, the Indian was running as high as fifth in the Feature Race, but a problematic pit stop cost him around 20 seconds, which dropped him well out of the points and behind Ferrucci.

Challenging for fifteenth place, Maini attempted a pass around the outside of Brooklands, only for Ferrucci to bump him off the road and further down the order.

Ferrucci was found guilty by the stewards and given a five-second time penalty after the race.

In an equally as fiery Sprint Race on Sunday, the pair were duelling again, and Ferrucci was disqualified from the results after the race for forcing Maini off the road at turn four.

Maini eventually passed his team-mate back at turn four and returned the favour by running him wide on the exit of the corner.

On the cool-down lap, Ferrucci caught back up to his team-mate and clipped the front-left of his car on the right-rear of his team-mate’s, prompting Maini to claim on the team radio; “There’s something wrong with my teammate's brain, he needs to be banned."

In the aftermath, Ferrucci was summoned to the stewards, but failed to attend, and he was subsequently banned for the next two events (four races; two Feature Races & two Sprint Races) and given a €60,000 fine.

In a separate incident, he was also found to have breached the “Technical and Sporting Regulations for incorrect driver safety equipment and the prohibition of wireless transmission devices within the car” after being spotted driving from the support paddock to the race pit lane wearing just one glove and using a mobile phone.

Ferrucci apologises for "mental lapse", blames Italian American heritage

In a public message on Twitter, Ferrucci said he sent his “sincerest apologies” for his actions and that his actions were based on “extremely poor judgement”.

He denied that the collision was premeditated, but blamed the incident on “anger and frustration” and a “mental lapse”, adding:

“I have no excuse other than the fact that I am a twenty year old Italian American with a deep passion for motorsport, which is a very emotional sport.

“While there has been much provocation leading to my mental lapse, it is still not an excuse and I will make sure that this does not happen again.”

He apologised to everybody associated with him, including the Haas team, and offered up reasons for not being able to attend the hearing after the race.

“I was randomly selected for a drug test, as were others, and this delayed my return to the paddock by over an hour.

“At that point I very quickly packed and had to leave for the airport to catch an early afternoon flight back to the US to attend to an extremely urgent time sensitive medical issue.”

Trident show support to Maini

Moments after the race ban was announced, Trident confirmed that they would be supporting Maini and his family throughout the incident and conceded that “unsportsmanlike behaviour” from both Ferrucci and his father has been witnessed before the Silverstone weekend.

“Trident intends to show their solidarity and support to Arjun Maini and his family, for the unsportsmanlike and above all uncivilized behaviour that he was forced to endure not only during this last weekend by Santino Ferrucci and father, who accompanied him,” Trident confirmed on social media.

“The contractual implications of what has happened will be dealt with by our lawyers. Never in these 12 years of sporting activity has anything even close to this ever occurred. We apologize for the show that we have regretfully offered.”

This may be very welcomed news for those involved with Maini’s racing career. Only a couple of races prior to this, team radio clips emerged of an emotional Maini claiming, “you guys do not support me” and “I don’t want to race in this championship any more”.

What now for Ferrucci?

Ferrucci now appears to be building something of a confrontational reputation.

He and his family had reportedly requested to use US President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” on his Trident car, which was rejected due to political slogans and symbols being banned under the regulations.

His attempts to stand-in for the injured IndyCar driver Pietro Fittipaldi at Detroit included a spin when exiting the pits and ended with Spencer Pigot claiming that Ferrucci lacked “respect” after the pair collided at the start of the second race.

"It wasn't just a spin, I got hit from behind by Ferrucci," said the Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevrolet driver. "First, we banged wheels, then he just kind of punted me in Turn 5. It's very disappointing to end the race this way.

"It's unfortunate when drivers come into the series and do silly things like that because they don't respect that all of us are out here racing every weekend for the championship."

Trident have confirmed that they have terminated Ferrucci's contract, citing the events at Silverstone and failed sponsorship payments as the reasons for the termination.

"This decision was motivated by the events - which are now of public domain - occurred at Silverstone, as well as by the serious breach of Driver’s payment obligations," read a statement by Trident.

"Since the beginning of the championship, the Driver justified its payments’ default with alleged failure by his sponsors to fulfil their obligations.

"It seems weird that, despite such kind of issues, Santino Ferrucci had the resources needed to enter the Detroit INDY race from June 1st to 3rd while, at the same time, he was not honouring his agreement with Trident Motorsport."

As for what happens to Ferrucci’s role with Haas, that remains to be seen.

An assumed automated tweet that was published by Haas of a throwback to Ferrucci’s 2016 test debut at Silverstone was deleted within fifteen minutes, suggesting that they’re still yet to figure out his future with the team and, for now, are limiting their association with him.

Offering more clues through social media, Ferrucci’s Twitter account description now simply says “American race car driver”, whereas before he had included his role with Haas.

Whether or not this is merely a temporary measure until his ban is completed, it is not yet known, but as things stand, the incident remains under review.

Note: article updated 18/07/18 - 15:30

By: Luke Murphy

All images: Motorsport Images

What do you think of the incident? Do you think that Ferrucci should be given the benefit of the doubt by Haas? Leave your comments in the section below.
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Series Formula 1
Author Luke Murphy
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