Vandoorne penalised following yellow flag error

BK7vR57CIAEVYP-Stoffel Vandoorne has been handed a five-pace grid penalty for this weekend’s Formula Renault 3.5 race in Monaco. The Belgian crashed whilst under yellow flags conditions in a move that the Stewards deemed “dangerous”.

The McLaren Junior topped the sheets this morning, posting a fastest time of 1:24.711, until the incident saw the session red flagged two minutes before its scheduled end.

Vandoorne, who was negotiating the narrow streets of the Principality, spun at the Sainte Devote corner. The Fortec later collided with the stationary car of Zoel Amberg who in turn made great efforts to avoid Mathias Laine. The Marshals were positioned on the track, attempting to retrieve the Finn, and his car, safely.

It is understood that the rookie was not aware of the yellow flags which were positioned on the approach to the corner. Defending champions, Fortec Motorsports have simply stated that they will they review the evidence before making any statements.

It seems Vandoorne was alone in his view as the usually friendly paddock grew angry at what they believed was a ‘soft’ penalty. No driver could confirm whether the flags were waving at the entrance to the turning or not and CCTV and TV recordings have also failed to be conclusive on the matter.

The usually friendly paddock was in disarray following the incident, one that sparked an angry response from some drivers on the grid.

Pre season title favourite, Antonio Felix da Costa said: “If there were no yellow flags then his penalty should be nothing.

“If there were yellow flags then the penalty should be bigger. I get on with Stoffel, but I would feel this way if it happened to anyone on the grid. A five place penalty is a joke.”

Every driver seems adamant; the understanding of yellow flags in Monaco is of paramount importance. It has shaped much of the driver briefings since Pastor Maldonado’s crash in 2005.

stoffel2The Venezuelan received a stark warning from race officials and a ban when his GP2 race saw much incident. Unlike Maldonado’s crash, no marshals were injured. It may therefore be clear why his fellow drivers, who normally hold him in such high esteem, were angry at an apparent continuity error on the Stewards’ behalf. Normally, the World Series by Renault is thought to be fair in its penalty giving.

The drivers are often reminded of the 90 degree turning at Sainte Devote due to these previous incidents. It seems that nobody is really sure whether this particular penalty has even been correctly given, let alone poorly judged.

With no recorded evidence to support or criticise either case, the “soft” penalty was most likely given for his dangerous spin on the notoriously difficult circuit rather than the yellow flag impediment specifically.

This penalty may allow ‘stoodonthepodium’ columnist, and Vandoorne’s Fortec team mate, Oliver Webb, an opportunity to outperform the Belgian for the first time this season. The Brit, now experienced in street races following a year in Indy Lights, spoke of his delight to return to the Principality: “It felt amazing driving the streets of Monaco again, some time to find for Qualifying on Saturday after the red flag. Can’t wait for the challenge!”

All eyes will be on the Belgian has he attempts to reclaim his championship lead from the Dane, Kevin Magnussen. Can the rookie cope with the paddock fall out or will his youth and inexperience show?

Pos Driver               Team              Time      Gap       Laps
 1. Stoffel Vandoorne    Fortec            1m24.711            24
 2. Antonio F. da Costa  Arden Caterham    1m24.821  + 0.110s  25
 3. Norman Nato          DAMS              1m24.973  + 0.262s  24
 4. Carlos Sainz Jr      Zeta Corse        1m24.975  + 0.264s  24
 5. Mikhail Aleshin      Tech 1            1m24.984  + 0.273s  22
 6. Kevin Magnussen      DAMS              1m25.060  + 0.349s  23
 7. Jazeman Jaafar       Carlin            1m25.066  + 0.355s  24
 8. Nick Yelloly         Zeta Corse        1m25.292  + 0.581s  23
 9. Marco Sorensen       Lotus             1m25.321  + 0.610s  23
10. Nigel Melker         Tech 1            1m25.603  + 0.892s  23
11. Carlos Huertas       Carlin            1m25.859  + 1.148s  22
12. Nico Muller          Draco             1m26.016  + 1.305s  23
13. Zoel Amberg          Pons              1m26.107  + 1.396s  21
14. Christopher Zanella  ISR               1m26.255  + 1.544s  25
15. Arthur Pic           AV Formula        1m26.260  + 1.549s  24
16. M.Stockinger         Lotus             1m26.263  + 1.552s  23
17. Will Stevens         P1                1m26.388  + 1.677s  24
18. Daniil Move          Comtec            1m26.391  + 1.680s  23
19. N.Martsenko          Pons              1m26.419  + 1.708s  24
20. Matias Laine         P1                1m26.647  + 1.936s  22
21. Andre Negrao         Draco             1m26.700  + 1.989s  22
22. Oliver Webb          Fortec            1m26.744  + 2.033s  25
23. Sergey Sirotkin      ISR               1m26.970  + 2.259s  23
24. Yann Cunha           AV Formula        1m27.192  + 2.481s  25
25. Lucas Foresti        Comtec            1m27.875  + 3.164s  22
26. Pietro Fantin        Arden Caterham    1m28.292  + 3.581s  23

IMAGES COURTESY OF RENAULT SPORT

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