Kimi Raikkonen has been added to the list of drivers set to start the Azerbaijan Grand Prix from the pit lane after the Finn’s Alfa Romeo was found to be in breach of the technical regulations after qualifying.
Raikkonen had his car scrutinized at the end of Q3 after qualifying ninth, but FIA technical delegate reported back that “the front wing flap deflected more than 5 mm under a load of 60 N,” and was therefore not in compliance with article 3.9.8 of the technical regulations.
The matter was referred to the stewards for consideration, and after a Sunday afternoon hearing just three hours before the race, Raikkonen’s car was disqualified. The Finn will now join Pierre Gasly and Robert Kubica starting the race from the pit lane.
Gasly was penalized a pit-lane start after missing a call to the weighbridge during FP2 on Friday afternoon. The Frenchman missed the lights signaling for him to report to the FIA garage as he entered pit lane at the end of the session, instead returning to his own pit box, where the team executed a practice pit stop.
Had the team and driver realized the error sooner and pushed Gasly’s car back to the weighbridge, he likely would have escaped with a reprimand.
Gasly competed in qualifying nonetheless and progressed through to Q2 before retiring from the session, but he subsequently had his time disqualified for breaching fuel-flow limits.
The team reportedly explained that the breach was a result of a powerful tow he picked up on his fastest Q1 lap, which helped reached a speed of approximately 210 mph but disrupted the fuel flow, leading to an incidental breach.
A change has been made to his ECU to address the problem, which also carries with it the penalty of a pit-lane start.
Kubica will also start from pit lane after Williams elected to withdraw him from parc fermé. The Pole set a time in Q1 on his way to 20th in the session, but a crash at Turn 8 required substantial repair work, and although this is allowed according to regulations, setup changes beyond fixing broken parts of the car are not, forcing him to start from the pit lane.
The principal beneficiary of the three pit-lane starts is Charles Leclerc, who qualified 10th after his crash but makes up two places, one from Raikkonen’s disqualification and another from Antonio Giovinazzi’s 10-place grid penalty for an unscheduled power unit change ahead of the weekend.