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Drivers unhappy Miyata escaped yellow flag penalty at Sugo

Super Formula drivers have registered their unhappiness that Ritomo Miyata escaped a penalty for an alleged yellow flag infringement in qualifying at Sugo.

Ritomo Miyata, VANTELIN TEAM TOM’S

TOM’S driver Miyata scored his second victory of the season at the Miyagi Prefecture track last month in a major boost to his title aspirations, moving 12 points of Team Mugen’s Liam Lawson in the standings with four races remaining this season.

However, during a drivers’ briefing that took place at the subsequent in-season test at Fuji, the subject of whether Miyata should have been stripped of his best lap in Q1 was discussed, with most of the field understood to be unhappy about the situation.

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The controversy arose when Cem Bolukbasi crashed his TGM Grand Prix machine exiting Rainbow corner with just a few seconds left on the clock in the first segment of Q1.

Team Impul’s Ryo Hirakawa and Miyata were the first two cars to pass the scene of the accident, which prompted yellow flags to be waved at the marshal’s post on the outside of the Rainbow right-hander.

After much deliberation by the stewards, it was determined that both Hirakawa and Miyata could keep their laps, allowing them to progress to Q2, while the next driver in line, Kondo Racing’s Kazuto Kotaka, lost his best time, costing him a place in the pole shootout.

All those running behind Kotaka were unable to improve their best laps, condemning some to back-of-the-grid starts as they were credited with times outside the 107% cut-off.

While Hirakawa passed Bolukbasi’s stricken car before any flags were waved, Miyata was allowed to keep his best time of 1m05.926s despite the section from Rainbow to halfway down the following straight, beyond the scene of the crash, being under yellow.

 

Had Miyata lost that lap, he too would have started from the back of the grid, but instead he went on to qualify second to Toshiki Oyu.

One driver present at the meeting at Fuji told Motorsport.com that “basically everyone” was upset that Miyata did not have his best lap taken away, and that the officials present “essentially admitted” that the wrong call was made.

It’s understood the reasoning given for not penalising Miyata was that he was already at the point of turning in at Rainbow when the yellows were first waved, and therefore couldn’t have been expected to see the flags.

However, officials have pledged from now on to apply the yellow flag rule without taking into account where the driver would be looking.

Questions were also raised in the meeting about why the session was not red-flagged after Bolukbasi’s crash and the clock reset to allow all drivers the chance of a single flying lap, as is common practice following accidents in qualifying.

Officials admitted that they simply ran out of time to make a judgement call before the clock hit zero, with the accident taking place with fewer than 10 seconds left in the session.

Super Formula returns to Fuji for the sixth round of the season next week.

Motorsport.tv is showing all Super Formula qualifying sessions and races live in 2023. Click here for further information and to sign up today.

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