Pierre Gasly started the Turkish Grand Prix from fourth position and saw two cars drive next to him before the first corner. The Frenchman entered Turn 1 with Sergio Perez on the inside and Fernando Alonso on the outside. There was not enough space for three drivers and Gasly hit Alonso, causing the Spaniard to spin off the track.
The AlphaTauri driver thought he was being sandwiched, but the stewards disagreed. Gasly was given a five-second time penalty for the incident. Race director Michael Masi explains why that penalty was handed out to the Frenchman. “At the beginning of the year we had to scale back the ‘let them race’ principle a bit, after discussions with the drivers and the teams. Something that was talked about was incidents on the opening lap in general,” Masi told.
“We decided that if a driver was fully responsible for an incident, he would probably receive a penalty for it. The stewards determined that Pierre was fully responsible for the incident and as a result a five-second penalty was imposed.” explains the race director after the Turkish Grand Prix.
The original statement released said Gasly was “primarily to blame” for the collision with Alonso. However, a few hours later a ‘corrected’ document was released by the stewards. In it, the Frenchman is designated as ‘completely guilty’. And that translated into the time penalty.
Masi reiterates that this is the normal course of business. “If someone is fully responsible for an incident on the opening lap, that will result in a penalty. If both drivers are at fault, or if more than two cars are involved and someone is predominantly at fault, then it probably won’t result in a penalty. But if two cars are involved and it is clear that one did it, he will be punished.”
Gasly felt he could not avoid Alonso because Perez was on the inside, but the stewards did not share that view. Masi explains that this has indeed been looked into. “That’s why I think it took a little longer before we went to look at it. Of course you have Sergio on the inside, but after looking at all the images it was quite clear and that’s why the stewards decided to hand out a five-second time penalty.”