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Goethe gets Imola F3 win back after stewards rule penalty invalid

by Peter Allen

Photo: Red Bull

Oliver Goethe has been awarded victory after all in the Imola Formula 3 sprint race after having a penalty rescinded by FIA stewards.

Goethe won the race on the road after snatching the lead from Noel Leon at a virtual safety car restart just a few corners from the finish. However, he was handed a five-second penalty for an infringement at the last of the four previous safety car restarts, which allowed Leon to stand on the top step of the podium.

Campos Racing driver Goethe explained what happened from his side in the press conference afterwards.

“Once I had caught Noel and the safety car, I was following them and the safety car was driving quicker than the delta and I was just following them because once you’re with them, you should stay within 10 car lengths,” he said. “And that’s what I did, but I was, of course, a little bit below the delta because they were going quicker in front.

“So, yeah, I don’t believe it’s completely fair. I think they’re investigating it now. Yeah, we’ll see what happens, but of course I want to win really badly.”

Stewards did look again at Goethe’s penalty and determined it was invalid, explaining that the requirement to stay above the delta time only applies until the ‘safety car in this lap’ message is communicated – which happened when cars were passing marshalling sector 6 earlier in the lap.

In their decision, stewards said “the automatic system did not reflect the changes” made to the relevant part of the sporting regulations concerning delta times at the start of this season.

Goethe’s fellow Red Bull junior Tim Tramnitz was also given a five-second penalty when the race ended, although this did not affect his original finishing position of third such was the gap that opened up behind him at the restart in question. This has also now been ruled invalid.

“The rule is to follow the safety car and stay within 10 cars-lengths, so that’s just what I did, stayed with the others in the 10 cars lengths,” the MP Motorsport driver said. “So I think it will be investigated again and then you’ll see.”

When he took victory, Leon though was already under investigation for his conduct on a previous restart, and was later summoned to see the stewards for weaving after Turn 17, the entry to Rivazza.

In his pre-event instructions, race director Rui Marques stated that: “to reduce the risk of an incident at the restart, weaving is not permitted from the entrance of Turn 17 until the driver passes the line”.

Stewards determined that Leon weaved between the two Rivazza bends, and although they said this presented no risk of an incident, they ruled he did gain an advantage by warming his tyres in this way and awarded a five-second time penalty. This demotes him to third behind Tramnitz in the results.