The F1 team that ran a “third car” at the Japanese Grand Prix received double punishment from the FIA.

The F1 team that ran a “third car” at the Japanese Grand Prix received double punishment from the FIA.

Prior to the Suzuka race, Williams broke a complicated technical rule, ending Logan Sargeant’s already remote chance of earning his first Formula One point.

Prior to the start of the Japanese Grand Prix, Logan Sargeant was given a double penalty by the Formula 1 stewards.

Up until that point, the American’s weekend had been pretty miserable. He crashed at the start of qualifying, which dropped him to the back of the grid and left his Williams mechanics with a sizable repair job to get the car ready for the race.

However, it was the crash and the subsequent repairs that resulted in the sanction that was announced an hour before the start of the race on Sunday.
The reason for this was that the FIA disapproved of the amount of work the team had performed on Sargeant’s backup chassis.

The rules do not allow teams to build up a spare chassis to “more than an assembly comprising a survival cell” – the part of the car which protects the driver in the event of a hefty crash.
That is to stop teams from having a ‘third car’ on standby in case needed during a race weekend.

Jo Bauer, the FIA’s technical delegate, felt Williams had worked on the spare chassis too much before parc ferme was over.

The stewards concurred with Bauer’s view of the situation after he had referred the matter to them.
So the rules had been breached and they needed to hand down a penalty to Williams and, unfortunately, Sargeant.

A pit-lane start is the minimum punishment for such a breach.
But it was not going to be satisfactory in this case as the American was already going to be starting the race there, because the team had also made set-up changes under parc ferme conditions.

So, in the eyes of the stewards, an additional sanction was required.
That is what Sargeant was slapped with a 10-second time penalty before the race had even begun, further hampering his already very slim hopes of taking away something tangible at the end.

It wasn’t long before he picked up an in-race penalty to compound his frustration, an extra five seconds for locking up and smacking into the side of Valtteri Bottas’ Alfa Romeo.
And the damage he picked up in the process led to his team calling him in to the garage to retire the car.

Sargeant said afterwards: “The second I touched the brake in Turn 11, I was locked.
I thought [Bottas] would have seen it and gone inside, because I was never going to make the corner.
But once he went to the outside, there was nothing I could do to avoid it.
It’s my fault.
So, according to the rules, they technically had three cars available at once.


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