CONTROVERSIAL PENALTY RUINS BRATT'S ALBACETE PODIUM BID FIAT Spanish Formula 3 Championship title contender Will Bratt saw hopes of challenging for his second podium finish of the season dealt a bitter blow during the fifth round of the campaign...
CONTROVERSIAL PENALTY RUINS BRATT'S ALBACETE PODIUM BID
FIAT Spanish Formula 3 Championship title contender Will Bratt saw hopes of challenging for his second podium finish of the season dealt a bitter blow during the fifth round of the campaign at Albacete this afternoon, Saturday, 28th June, when he was served with a controversial drive-through penalty.
Qualifying fourth on the grid for the first of the weekend's races with a time of 1m 24.251 seconds (151.220 km/h), less than two 10ths of a second shy of pole position, the Banbury sensation looked well on course to fight for podium honours at least and, potentially, his maiden Spanish F3 race victory.
However, event officials acted to serve a drive-through penalty on the EmiliodeVillota.com Motorsport racer during round five in response to an accident involving Will in the pit-lane during the earlier qualifying session.
Called into the weight-check area midway through the session, 20-year-old Will correctly complied with the request but an unfortunate incident transpired when a race official had his foot caught under one of the car's wheels. Resulting in a highly unfortunate and regretful injury, the incident was nonetheless a simple accident.
Several hours later, a retrospective decision was taken to impose a drive-through penalty on Will during the race which totally compromised his bid to challenge for a podium and consolidate third position in the championship standings.
Falling to the tail of the field following the penalty, the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) Rising Star showed great speed, tenacity and determination to climb from 21st position to 13th place at the chequered flag on a track known for its overtaking difficulty. He also posted the third fastest lap of the race with a time of 1m 25.791 seconds (148.506 km/h).
Will commented: "We're all a bit confused really with the drive-through penalty. What happened during qualifying wasn't intentional at all, it was purely an unfortunate and regretful accident but the officials decided before the race to hand out a punishment to us.
"It's frustrating as we had a great chance to be on the podium from fourth on the grid. I did everything I could to regain as many places as possible after the drive-through and while I was pleased with our pace and performance, especially on a track which is as difficult to overtake on as Brands Hatch Indy, I'm really disappointed with the outcome."
He added: "Tomorrow we start from 13th on the grid. The aim will obviously be to try and score some points but it will be tough. As always, we'll do the best we possibly can and hopefully climb back up the championship table."
Round six of the 2008 FIAT Spanish Formula 3 Championship is timetabled to commence at approximately 12.00 (local time) tomorrow, Sunday, 29th June, at Albacete.