Penalty for Hazelwood over unusual breach
Saturday 29th October, 2022 - 4:24pm
Todd Hazelwood has been slapped with a five-place grid penalty ahead of Saturday’s Supercars race at the Boost Mobile Gold Coast 500.
According to a Stewards report, the #35 Matt Stone Racing entry was in breach of technical regulations relating to recording data.
In addition to the five-place grid drop, Hazelwood was also disqualified from both of Friday’s practice sessions, while MSR was docked 50 Teams’ Championship points.
Hazelwood will start from last place on the grid, having also hit the barrier in qualifying.
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“It was a technical oversight by an inexperienced crew member,” team owner, Matt Stone explained.
“We lower the logging rates of some of the sensors for Bathurst to ensure they log the full distance of the race.
“Then in transferring them back to the standard rates for this weekend the wrong channel was adjusted, hence meaning we breached a technical rule.
“Supercars picked up on it, informed us and we accepted fault.
Asked about the severity of the penalty, Stone said: “We went to the stewards to discuss that.
“We had a robust discussion with them, to which they then made it slightly more lenient than it originally was.
“The severity of it, being disqualified for practice, is absolutely fair.
“Their worry was that someone could write off a practice session in order to gain a technical advantage, so the penalty needed to be more severe, hence the grid penalties and the teams points as well.
“Obviously, 50 teams’ points is a lot. But we respect the due process of the stewards and their decision.”
Full Stewards report:
Competitor: Car 35 Matt Stone Racing Pty Ltd
Car and Driver: Car 35 Todd Hazelwood
Date: Friday, 28 October 2022
Session: Practice 1 and Practice 2
Fact: Following Practice 2, the DRD received a report from Supercars Technical that Car 35 was logging the damper position at 50Hz during Practice Sessions 1 and 2.
Rule: C15.7.13 – Logging rates are free except for those channels listed in the table – Suspension or Damper Position – 25Hz.
The Stewards impose the following penalties:
(a) Car 35 is disqualified from Practice 1 and Practice 2.
(b) The data recorded from Car 35 in breach of the Rule is to be deleted from the
Competitor’s computer systems.
(c) The loss of 5 Grid Spots for Car 35 in Race 31; and
(d) The loss of 50 Teams Championship Points on the Competitor.
The Stewards heard from the DRDs (David Mori and James Delzoppo) and the Competitor’s Authorised Representatives (Matt Stone and Peter Vale).
The Authorised Representatives admitted the facts alleged and accepted that it amounted to a breach of the Rule but wished to make submissions on the Penalty to be applied. The Hearing proceeded on that basis.
The DRDs submitted the Penalty to be applied should be disqualification of Car 35 from both Practice Sessions and further that Car 35 start from rear of grid for Race 31.
The Authorised Representatives accepted that disqualification of Car 35 from the two Practice sessions was appropriate and that an additional penalty is warranted but submitted the penalty of starting from rear of grid put forward by the DRDs would be too harsh and submitted that the Stewards should take the following factors into account when determining what further Penalties to apply:
a) The Competitor has engaged junior engineers to staff their Team. It was one of these engineers who was responsible for resetting the parameters for the data logging on Car 35 from the prior Event. The engineers are still undertaking their studies and so are inexperienced. The engineer made an error in the setting of the damper logging rate.
b) The Competitor was unaware until contacted by Supercars Technical that the data was being logged at a rate greater than is permitted by the Rules. They assured the Stewards that the data had not yet been analysed by their engineering team.
Stewards Decision – Page 2
c) The Competitor undertook to the Stewards to allow Supercars Technical to supervise and/or undertake the deletion of the relevant data from its systems.
d) This was an unintentional error on their part. There was no direction from the Competitor to log the data at that rate, but it is accepted that the Competitor is responsible for the error.
e) The Competitor is aware that Supercars Technical receive and monitor all telemetry data being logged and transmitted from the Cars and so it is inconceivable for them to think that Supercars would not discover any breach of the logging Rules.
f) Starting from the rear of grid is too harsh because of all of the above factors and there is no incentive for Car 35 to compete in Qualifying (and the flow on impact of that, plus the penalty, will have on its reputation in relation to commercial sponsorships etc).
Despite the above, a penalty of disqualification from the Practice Sessions only is an insufficient penalty. A greater penalty for the breach (as above) is still warranted. The Stewards consider the penalties applied in this situation fits the breach.
It is important for the Stewards to record that their decision about the penalties applied in this instance is based on their acceptance as to the truth of the Competitor’s representations as to the above matters and this amounted to an oversight on their part by a junior, inexperienced team member and not any deliberate attempt to record data in breach of the prescribed rate and that the
data had not been analysed.
It is also important to record that this decision should not be taken as a precedent by any Competitor as to the likely penalty that would be applied by the Stewards for any breach of this Rule in the
future. It is important that the penalty be appropriate for the extent of the breach in the accepted circumstances. Should there be evidence that the data had been analysed, a greater penalty would have been applied.
The Competitor is reminded that Decisions and Penalties that may be subject to Appeal are set out in B7.7.2 and the Rights to and process for an Appeal are set out in B5.