McLaren star Oscar Piastri hit with grid penalty for Emilia Romagna GP

The Australian driver will start the race at Imola from fifth on the grid after the qualifying incident

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McLaren driver Oscar Piastri has been handed a three-place grid drop by the FIA stewards for the Formula 1 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on Sunday.

The Australian was summoned by the stewards after he was adjudged to have impeded Haas driver Kevin Magnussen while he was on a hot lap during the Q1 session of qualifying. He was forced to abandon the lap and consequently missed the cut for Q2, qualifying 19th.

After speaking with both drivers about the incident, the FIA have decided to punish Piastri by demoting him three places from his qualifying position. The 23-year-old qualified P2 but will now start from fifth on the grid.

An official FIA document released on Saturday evening stated Piastri was found to have “unnecessarily impeded” Magnussen in breach of Article 37.5 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations.

The McLaren star had been one of the quickest drivers at Imola on Saturday as he put his MCL44 car on the front row alongside polesitter Max Verstappen, with less than a tenth of a second between him and the Red Bull driver.

As a result of Piastri’s penalty, his team-mate Lando Norris has been promoted to P2. Ferrari duo Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz will also move onto the second row ahead of him in third and fourth respectively.

Stewards explain Piastri decision

The incident occurred while Piastri was exiting the pits and Magnussen had started his fast lap as he closed up behind him at Turns 2 and 3.

Onboard footage appeared to show Piastri inadvertently blocked the racing line when Magnussen approached from behind, forcing the Dane to abort his lap and he held his hands up in visible frustration.

Oscar Piastri during practice for the 2024 Emilia Romagna GP | McLaren
Oscar Piastri during practice for the 2024 Emilia Romagna GP | McLaren

The stewards accepted Piastri’s explanation that because of the layout of the circuit, he could not see Magnussen until it was too late, at which time he tried to accelerate away in order to get clear of the Haas man as quickly as possible.

However, the stewards reviewed McLaren‘s radio communications and placed the blame on Piastri’s engineers for failing to warn him about Magnussen’s car until it was too late, adding he was “too close for Piastri to do anything to safely avoid impeding”.

McLaren have the right to appeal the decision as per Article 15 of the FIA International Sporting Code, although this appears to be an unlikely outcome due to the evidence contained in the onboard footage.

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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