Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham, Melbourne, 2012

Kovalainen handed grid penalty for safety car passes

2012 Australian Grand PrixPosted on Author Keith Collantine

Heikki Kovalainen has been handed a five-place penalty on the grid for next week’s Malaysian Grand Prix.

The stewards of the race found Kovalainen broke the rules on overtaking cars during a safety car period.

Kovalainen passed two cars before passing the first safety car line when the safety car returned to the pits.

The Caterham driver retired from the race after a problem-filled start to his season: “I lost DRS until about lap six, and had to switch off KERS right at the start, so the sort of times we were doing were clearly competitive.

“Both stops went well but then I felt the car starting to pull left under braking so we brought the car in to take a look and it seems like a front left suspension problem was causing the handling imbalance I’d felt for a few laps before we had to retire.”

After receiving his penalty he added on Twitter: “Tough day today, never mind, one of those races that happen sometimes, bit harsh penalty from stewards for the next race but that’s life too!”

2012 Australian Grand Prix

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25 comments on “Kovalainen handed grid penalty for safety car passes”

  1. Just for clarification, exactly which rule did he break? :intrigued:

    1. @scuderiavincero – He passed two cars before the first safety car control line.

      1. when going into the pits to retire …

      2. That cleared it up, thanks @prisoner-monkeys

        That said, as @bascb has pointed out, he was going in to retire anyway, that did put Kovalainen in a tight spot, didn’t it?

        1. Yeah, but t just makes it all the more dafter from him. If there was no safety car line then no-one would have thought of giving him a penalty, but these rules have to be defined and it turns out that that it was defined by a white line on the track. I guess he’ll just have to not think “Oh it’ll be fine if I overtake a little early” next time there’s a safey car. Oh, Heikki!

  2. LOL….this is interesting. Kovy retired while the safety car was still out! He retired around 2 laps before the SC pulled in.

    Kovalainen passed two cars before passing the first safety car line when the safety car returned to the pits. What’s that supposed to mean?

    1. @himmats -That’s the official reason given:

      The rules say no driver can overtake another car until he passes the first safety car line for the first time when the safety car is returning to the pits.

      Kovalainen overtook two cars before that and will therefore lose five places on the grid at Sepang.

      See for yourself.

      1. Mind relinking that PM? You seem to have forgot the URL and I wanna see it :(

      2. @prisoner-monkeys Kovy was a lap down. I believe he would have been to unlap ‘overtake’ other cars. I am sure he was one lap down in the train, so if anything he was unlapping and not overtaking.

        1. This was before the instruction to unlap. Heikki pitted on L38 (and got the penalty), then unlapped cars were told to overtake, then he retired on L40.

  3. maybe he overtake car during his pit entry, while he on the pit lane?

    1. @sesku Article 40.8 of the sporting regulations:

      40.8 With the exceptions of the cases listed under a) to h) below, no driver may overtake another car on the track, including the safety car, until he passes the first safety car line for the first time when the safety car is returning to the pits. However, if the safety car is still deployed at the beginning of the last lap, or is deployed during the last lap, Article 40.15 will apply.

      The exceptions are:
      a) If a driver is signalled to do so from the safety car.
      b) Under 40.13 or 40.16 below.
      c) When entering the pits a driver may pass another car remaining on the track, including the safety car, after he has reached the first safety car line.
      d) When leaving the pits a driver may overtake, or be overtaken by, another car on the track before he reaches the second safety car line.
      e) When the safety car is returning to the pits it may be overtaken by cars on the track once it has reached the first safety car line.
      f) Whilst in the pit entry, pit lane or pit exit a driver may overtake another car which is also in one of these three areas.
      g) Any car stopping in its designated garage area whilst the safety car is using the pit lane (see 40.11 below) may be overtaken.
      h) If any car slows with an obvious problem.

      1. So exception c) comes into play here, if I undersand it corecctly? Because he overtook the cars before the first SC Line?

        1. Err, rather exception c) doesn’t come into play because he overtook the cars before the first SC Line.

  4. Looks like a clean cut violation to me. He was probably too focused on the problems he was having.

    Penalty is fair.

    1. Guess they will have to think about the strategy a bit then for Malaysia based on starting dead last. I guess that at that moment he had his hands full from what I saw he was dealing with (steering pulling to the side, intermittant DRS, KERS malfunctioning …)

      1. Would there be any point in him even going out to qualify? Maybe just sit in the garage and save tyres

        1. @welshtom Probably. I want him to go out, just to see where they are in the pecking order. See if it’s any improvement from Australia.

  5. Nice to see him being philosophical about it, and drawing positives out of a difficult day. Top man Kovvy, there are some that could take a leaf out of his book!!!

    1. @bigbadderboom Like Lewis Hamilton

      1. Oh, you mean the driver that said ‘today just wasnt my day, the good thing is we have a good car and a handful of points isnt bad since its the longest season yet’ (im paraphrasing)

  6. Welp, as always, Formula 1 being Formula 1

  7. Given the Caterhams pace, I’ll be watching Kovi do 1 timed lap in Q1 next weekend. 1 lap just to put a marker on the board. Then anyone else with a penalty will shuffle behind him. Save the tyres for the race.

  8. *facepalms* Oh, F1…
    Heikki IS right about one thing: these races happen once in a while. It just happens sometimes; and, hey, at least he admitted to it.

  9. I kinda agree with Martin Brundle that this rule is stupid, it means there’s one less lap of racing and surely the whole point is the drivers at the front should be able to overtake the back runners? Some of these new race rules I don’t particularly like…

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