Mick Schumacher has kept his Formula 2 victory in the Russian Feature Race after being cleared for an alleged DRS breach but his Prema team has copped a bizarre penalty.
Schumacher passed Yuki Tsunoda to claim a win that enabled the Ferrari protégé to extend his championship advantage to 18 points.
His Prema team was summoned post-race to explain the use of a ‘superseded version of the DRS activation crank’.
An updated version of the DRS activation crank was issued to teams on safety grounds after the 2019 round at Baku but the older specification does not have a performance advantage whatsoever. All of the cars were then inspected after this year’s Austrian round and had the correct part installed.
Stewards deemed that the part had been put on Schumacher’s car after an incident at Monza but was not investigated until post-race at Sochi.
It was noted that “it would take an extremely experienced observer to tell the two parts apart if they were viewed individually, without direct reference to each other” and “it is not possible to determine with certainty where the superseded part” came from on Schumacher’s car.
It was also noted that the part identification issue with the DRS activation crank cannot be fully addressed by the promotor and supplier until the 2021 season and as it was a supplier-related problem, which did not affect Schumacher’s performance, no further action was taken.
Schumacher’s Prema team nonetheless picked up a €10,000 fine for the actions of Team Principal Rene Rosin during the race.
Robert Shwartzman was meant to pit first but instead Schumacher – ahead on-track – came in on the same lap to change tyres.
Rosin was seen on the TV broadcast “allegedly directing team personnel prior to the start of the mandatory pit stop procedure.”
Schumacher was then serviced first while the pursuing Shwartzman also took on new tyres but suffered a delay to his right-rear change.
Stewards summoned Prema post-race as Rosin is not listed as part of the team’s Operational Personnel – each Formula 2 squad is limited to 12 people who are permitted to work on the cars.
Team Principals, unless they also cover the role of Team Manager, as well as drivers and staff whose duties are solely connected with sponsors, marketing, public relations and security are not considered part of the 12 Operational Personnel.
It was determined, after analysing the TV footage and the pit lane camera footage, that the change in tyre strategy had already been initiated by Prema’s Team Manager, who is part of the Operational Personnel.
The pit crew were already in the process of organising the respective tyre sets before Rosin gestured towards the pit lane.
Stewards also noted that while Rosin had a radio headset on “at no point did he key the radio to transmit” and “consider it highly unlikely, given the ambient noise levels, that the mechanics in pit lane, with headsets on, could understand anything the Team Principal was saying without radio communications.”
It was therefore determined that Rosin’s actions had no impact on the operation of the team, the cars or the pit stop, and thus was not in breach of the ‘operational personnel limitations.’
However stewards determined that “his actions could be misconstrued under the circumstances by someone without access to the appropriate camera angles and footage, as giving the appearance of operational direction.”
They therefore concluded that he had “committed an act prejudicial to the competition” and was in breach of Article 12.1.1.c of the International Sporting Code.
Prema was consequently handed a €10,000 fine for Rosin’s conduct.