Williams Appeal Against Sergey Sirotkin Grid Demotion Rejected by FIA

Ross Gibson


Williams have now made their appeal against decisions made by stewards in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, but the FIA rejected their arguments in a teleconference that took place on Tuesday morning, 8th May.

They reached a unanimous conclusion that no new evidence was given to justify a change to any of the outcomes or a review of the incidents in question.

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix was an eventful one. Ricciardo was expected to perform well before the event. He crashed out in a collision with teammate Verstappen, leaving Lewis Hamilton to take an unlikely victory from the grasp of his own teammate Bottas, who suffered a puncture just a couple of laps from the finish. Raikkonen took second place and Perez third. Williams failed to make decent standings.

The F1 Williams team were concerned about the decision for Sergey Sirotkin to face a three-place grid drop penalty for the coming race in Spain following his collision in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. They felt the penalty was harsh and out of line with penalties, or lack of penalties, dished out by stewards to other drivers at the same event. Williams referenced the FIA’s decision to take no further action with respect to the first lap crash that occurred shortly thereafter, which involved Sirotkin, Alonso and Hulkenberg (an incident that forced Sirotkin into retirement). Their case also mentioned that Alonso had driven his damaged vehicle back to the pits to recover and that no further action was taken against him.

Also in question was the incident involving Esteban Ocan and Kimi Raikkonen (for which neither driver was given a penalty), as well as the incident towards the end of the race involving Kevin Magnussen. Magnussen had driven quite dangerously, forcing Gasly towards the pit wall, and he was given a 10-second penalty as a result—a penalty that Williams described as ‘inconsequential’.

The original four stewards in question, as well as FIA race director Charlie Whiting, met with the Williams’ legal team via teleconference. In the end, it was decided that Williams hadn’t really presented anything new to justify any changes or reviews of the incidents in question. They also outlined a detailed 10-reason response for the public and media’s benefit, as well as for Williams.

Where the Sirotkin collision is concerned, the FIA say that the Williams’ driver rear-ended Perez, resulting in the three-grid penalty for the next race. They also point to the fact that this collision was dissimilar from the other first lap incidents that the Williams’ legal team had raised in comparison. The other collisions, such as the one among Sirotkin, Alonso and Hulkenberg, were side-by-side, therefore resulting in no further actions. The FIA also pointed out that Alonso had followed safety precautions during his recovery from the accident.

In answering Williams’ claims that the stewards had acted inconsistently, the FIA highlighted statistics showing that out of the 87 recorded incidents, 55 lead to no further action, 14 lead to 10-second punishments, and 9 lead to three-place grid drops; as such, the FIA contends that the way the incidents were dealt with during the race was ‘entirely consistent’ with what is usual.

Williams’ appeal has been outright rejected by the FIA, and all the drama of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix has finally been wrapped up. The Spanish Grand Prix is the next major F1 event and takes place on 11-13th May. Will Lewis Hamilton win his second of the season on the circuit de Catalunya?