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Grosjean penalised for qualifying block

Mat Coch

Sunday 31st March, 2019 - 9:43am

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Romain Grosjean

Romain Grosjean has been penalised following qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix after officials deemed he’d blocked McLaren’s Lando Norris early in the session.

Reviewed post-qualifying, which saw Grosjean qualify eighth, it was decided the Haas driver breached Article 31.5 of the sporting regulations and was therefore demoted three grid places.

It will see the Frenchman take the start from 11th as a result, with Daniel Ricciardo being promoted to 10th.

Though he was impeded, Norris suggested there was little Grosjean could have done given the scenario.

Moments prior to Norris’ arrival, Sebastian Vettel had passed the Haas as it was about to enter the final corner and start a flying lap.

Grosjean was then forced to back up further in an effort to prepare for his flying lap when Norris arrived.

“To be fair to him he only had three seconds for his team to tell him I was behind if they didn’t already,” Norris said.

“From what he said he didn’t know I was behind until I was pretty much about to crash into him.

“Vettel screwed him over, which is not a very nice thing to do in terms of us being racers, we try to respect each other.”

Vettel was mentioned in the stewards’ findings, though the penalty was still dished out which came with the added sting of a penalty point on Grosjean’s superlicense.

“The driver of car 8 stated that he was about to commence a push lap when he was overtaken by car 5 and thus slowed significantly to maintain a sufficient gap,” the report read.

“The Stewards accept that the driver of car 8 did not intentionally intend to impede, however it is the driver’s responsibility to be aware, when travelling abnormally slowly, that faster cars may be approaching.”

Following qualifying, Vettel was also summoned to the stewards office after he was found driving unnecessarily slowly on an in lap during the early stages of qualifying.

The German however was not penalised as it was found he’d locked up and heavily flat spotted his tyres into the opening corner, with the resulting vibrations too great for him to have driven faster than the minimum lap time.

Vettel will start second, alongside team-mate Charles Leclerc who claimed his maiden F1 pole position.

The Bahrain Grand Prix begins at 0210 AEDT on Monday morning.

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