Red Bull Racing’s Pierre Gasly will start the Azerbaijan Grand Prix from the pit lane after failing to stop for a mandatory weight check during practice.
The Frenchman was called to the weighbridge as he returned to his garage at the end of FP2, but instead drove past the scrutineers and back to his pit box, where mechanics proceeded to undertake work on the car.
Drivers can be called to the weighbridge at the end of any practice session or during qualifying as part of ordinary regulatory checks throughout a grand prix weekend, and the race stewards found no mitigating circumstances for Gasly’s flouting of the call to be weighed.
“The stewards reviewed video evidence and heard from the driver of car 10 (Pierre Gasly) and the team representative and determined that the driver failed to stop for weighing when required to do so,” the race stewards said in their ruling.
“Instead, he drove on and proceeded to do a pit stop where the car was worked on by lifting the car and all four wheels were changed, in breach of article 29.1 a).
“Under article 29.1 a) the penalty for this infringement is specified to be for the car to start from the pitlane and we so order.”
The ruling is a major setback for Gasly, who has endured a difficult transition into the Red Bull Racing team after a single-season apprenticeship with junior squad Toro Rosso.
Gasly has been roundly beaten by teammate Max Verstappen in all three qualifying sessions and races so far this season, citing difficulties adapting his driving style to the particular RB15 machine.
There were signs of improvement at the Chinese Grand Prix, where he qualified and finished sixth and claimed the bonus point for fastest lap, but his Azerbaijan penalty seems likely to halt any momentum he may have built without even having a chance to qualify.
Gasly set the ninth-fastest time of FP2 on Friday, 0.4s off Verstappen’s pace and behind both Toro Rosso drivers.