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FIA explains rejection of Prema appeal into Jeddah F2 sprint result

The FIA has rejected Prema’s appeal into the FIA Formula 2 sprint race result in Saudi Arabia after a bizarre incident involving Dennis Hauger following the first safety car restart.

The Safety Car leads Dennis Hauger, Prema Racing

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Drivers were instructed to head through the pitlane following a crash involving Jack Doohan and Logan Sargeant exiting the final corner, but the call was reversed 22 seconds later with a second message from race control on the timing screens that said the pitlane was being closed.

But Prema driver Hauger - who had led the race from pole - followed the first instruction and fell down the field to 12th as the rest of the field stayed out. To add insult to injury, the reigning FIA F3 champion was then handed a 10-second stop-and-go penalty and ultimately finished last.

His team protested the race result and claimed that, in its radio discussion with race director Rui Marques after the messages had been posted, it had been told that the cars would go through pit lane so told Hauger to do so.

Prema argued that the move which dropped Hauger down the grid was “because they followed the directions of the Race Director” and asked that the classification be revised to reflect the on-track order before the safety car.

In its post-race press release, Prema said: “The early part of the race saw the safety-car on-track twice.

“During the second neutralisation, the race control monitor instructed the teams to go through the pit-lane. A few seconds later, a contradictory message reported that the pit-lane was closed.

“After the pit-lane closed message, the team asked the race director for clarification, and the race director reiterated that the cars had to go through the pit-lane.

“Hauger complied with the order, but he was the only driver to do so, which caused him to lose the lead. In addition to that, he was later penalised with a 10-second stop and go which demoted him to P18.”

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Dennis Hauger, Prema Racing

Dennis Hauger, Prema Racing

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

But the FIA rejected the protest, saying the issuance of two messages in quick succession “simply reflected the normal flow of information in a racing incident” and that the closing of the pit entry superseded Marques's conversation with Prema about the cars going through pit lane, "as it was an official communication to all teams".

It explained that the second message, informing cars not to go through the pitlane, came after video footage of the incident showed its position, which “did not necessitate taking the field through the pit lane and, in fact, required that the Pit Lane be closed due to blockage on the left side of the track prior to pit entry.”

In its report, the FIA said: “The race director, via the official forms of communication noted above, notified all teams of the status of the pit entry as he knew it, throughout the incident in question.

“For a full minute after Prema felt they had been told to have their cars go through the pit lane, timing page three (available to them) and the pit entry status boards at T27 and on the main straight (available to the driver when he arrived on the scene) showed the pit entry was closed, yet they took no action to clarify the situation further with the race director or communicate further with their driver.

“The driver of Car 1 [Hauger] admitted that he saw the pit entry signs showed closed and pitted anyway at the direction of the Team. He did not query the Team again when he saw the closed signs.

“No other cars in the field, including the other Prema car, followed Car 1 (the leader) into the pit entry. Car 1 was assessed a 10 second stop and go penalty for entering the pit lane when the pit entry was closed.

“This penalty by regulation is non-appealable. A protest of the classification, such as this, is not an appropriate means to attempt to reverse such a penalty.

“No regulations were breached by the race director or other race control personnel in their handling of the incident in question, as acknowledged by Prema.

“In the course of their actions they properly adjusted their methods of dealing with the incident on track in accordance with the conditions as they knew them and as they evolved.”

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