Lewis Hamilton and Robert Kubica promoted to points as Alfa Romeo penalised
Both Alfa Romeo drivers have been handed substantial time penalties at the German Grand Prix, boosting Lewis Hamilton’s title advantage, while giving Robert Kubica his and Williams’ first top 10 of 2019.
Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi classified seventh and eighth respectively in a chaotic rain-hit race at Hockenheim.
But post-race checks undertaken by FIA Technical Delegate Jo Bauer revealed that Alfa Romeo had been placed under investigation due to an alleged breach of the clutch torque application during the race start.
After a lengthy investigation stewards handed 30-second time penalties to both Raikkonen and Giovinazzi, in lieu of a drive-through penalty.
It means they drop to 12th and 13th respectively.
The sanctions promote Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen to seventh and eighth.
It means Alfa Romeo and Haas are now level on points in the Constructors’ Championship.
The demotion of the Alfa Romeo drivers also means Hamilton moves into ninth place, picking up two points, in turn extending his title lead over Valtteri Bottas to 41 points.
It also acts as good news for the beleaguered Williams outfit.
Robert Kubica moves into 10th place, meaning he and the team pick up their first point of a 2019 campaign that has been spent mired at the back of the field.
It is Kubica’s first point since the season-ending 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
George Russell, who followed Kubica home, now takes 11th spot.
The stewards stated that “the torque in the clutch at the start did not match the torque demand as the driver released the clutch within the specified 70 millisecond maximum period.”
For Raikkonen this time was measured at “approximately 200 milliseconds”, while for Giovinazzi the time was measured at “approximately 300 milliseconds".
The stewards explained that Article 27.1 of the Sporting Regulations specifies that “The Driver must drive the car alone and unaided.”
“The clutch is controlled electronically via the Common ECU. However, the teams have the option to tune some of the controlling parameters.
“In order to prevent the teams from using this tuning to affect the way in which the clutch engages at the start of the race in a way that could potentially mimic traction control or other advantageous schemes, the FIA requires that the torque in the clutch matches (within specified limits) the torque demand as the driver releases the clutch.
“This must occur within 70 milliseconds.
“In the case of both cars of Alfa Romeo Racing, the time that it took for the torque to align with the torque demand was close to 200 milliseconds and 300 milliseconds respectively.
“This provided a more gradual application of the torque, which given the wet conditions was a potential advantage.
“Regardless of whether there was an actual advantage, the Stewards determined that this was a clear breach of the guidance given to the teams as to how this would be adjudicated.
“The Stewards held a hearing and reviewed the data, with three members of the team present, including the engineers concerned, along with the FIA Technical Delegate and his assistants responsible for these checks.
“The team accepted that they were not within the required limits.
“The Stewards accepted the team’s explanation that the cause of this was that they were caught out by the unusual weather conditions and the fact that they did not do any practice starts under these climatic conditions and set the parameters in a way that failed to meet the requirements.
“However, the Stewards noted that the FIA Technical Delegates check this parameter on all cars, and that no other irregularities were found.
“The obligation to meet the requirements is irrespective of the climatic conditions.”
The stewards explained that a 10-second stop-and-go time penalty, converted post-race into a 30-second time drop, was in accordance with a sanction that would be issued for a false start.