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Bortoleto penalised after intense F2 fight with Maini and loses podium

by Alejandro Alonso Lopez

Photo: Dutch Photo Agency

Gabriel Bortoleto has been penalised following the Formula 2 sprint race at Silverstone and loses his podium finish to team-mate Kush Maini.

Both Invicta drivers spent most of the race fighting for the last podium spot, which Maini held until the third to last corner. Bortoleto took the outside line entering the Club complex and overtook Maini, who tried to close the door squeezing his rival. Then the two drove almost alongside each other under the chequered flag with McLaren junior Bortoleto jumping over the outside kerb.

However, the stewards deemed Bortoleto’s pass illegal because he exceeded the track limits at turn 16. He was handed a five-second time penalty and demoted to fourth place, promoting Alpine junior Maini to third.

The stewards document explained that “Car 10 [Bortoleto]’s front tyre was alongside the rear tyre of Car 9 [Maini] at the apex of the corner”.  Given that the front axle of the Brazilian was not alongside the front axle of the Indian at the apex of the corner while overtaking around the outside, the former was not entitled to be given room.

Although he described it as “a nice fight”, Bortoleto was unhappy about how the battle with his team-mate unfolded when he spoke to media including Formula Scout after the race.

“I had been trying to overtake him the entire race, he was pushing me out basically every time I was already on the inside or the outside, trying to take my front wing out,” he said. “I would say it was a beautiful overtake around the outside of the chicane there. When he realises, because I didn’t think he expected it, he tried to push me out like he always did and I overtook him. He just needs to accept this.

“During this entire season I have been much more fair with him than he was actually with me. I have always been avoiding crashes even if it was my fault in Barcelona, immediately I apologised to him. I had some issues with my brakes and both my mirrors weren’t intact. At least when I did a mistake, I went to him and said sorry. In this situation, we thought we had agreed in everything between the team and between us.

“Obviously we are going to have a discussion now. I haven’t gone back to the team yet but hopefully we can understand everything and put things into place so we can flight cleanly like I do with all the other drivers and they do with me as well. I don’t know why team-mates need to be dirty to each other.”

Zak O’Sullivan was also penalised post-race for an incident with his team-mate Victor Martins. The Williams junior dived into the inside of his Martins at turn four and they made contact, which resulted in both ART Grand Prix drivers retiring from the race after running in the points. The Briton will have to serve a five-place grid penalty which puts him 19th on the grid for the feature race.