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Pourchaire keeps Austria podium after erroneous penalty message

by Ida Wood

Photo: Formula Motorsport Limited

Theo Pourchaire was surprised to be summoned to the stewards after Formula 2’s sprint race at the Red Bull Ring, and it turns out he was mistakenly called over violating track limits.

Pourchaire “was alleged to have exceeded track limits on more than three separate occasions”, with drivers getting three warnings before they are investigated under F2’s sporting regulations.

The ART Grand Prix driver finished second, and with the result being provisional at the time of the post-race press conference he was asked about his impending stewards trip.

“I don’t know why I’m under investigation to be honest,” he admitted. “They say track limits, but I have three warnings so I don’t know. We will talk with the stewards but I don’t know why I’m under investigation…”

Only three drivers went without qualifying laps being deleted over track limits, and Pourchaire had one lap deleted.

“It’s very, very difficult [to stay in the limits],” he said. “Yesterday, I only had only the one track limit for the whole day, I was too safe and today I wanted to push the limits a bit more and I had three. It’s tough because you need to push and the car is sliding and with tyre degradation, it’s not easy. But it’s a good challenge.”

Once Pourchaire’s feature race violations were taken to the stewards, it turned out his surprise was not misplaced.

“Having considered the matter extensively, the stewards determined that the third track limit violation of the driver was inadvertently displayed twice on the messaging screen, bringing the total count to four infringements, but in fact the driver had only left the track on three occasions,” read the stewards’ decision.

Pourchaire’s team-mate Frederik Vesti and Campos Racing’s Roberto Merhi and Olli Caldwell all got 5s penalties in-race for track limits violations, with Caldwell now one penalty point away from a race ban.

Amaury Cordeel also got a 5s penalty and one penalty point for exceeding track limits, and later “overtook in a double waved yellow flag zone at Turn 2 after the chequered flag was displayed” and was given a further 30-second penalty and three more penalty points.

That second penalty drops the Van Amersfoort Racing driver, who is returning this weekend from a race ban after picking up 12 penalty points in 2022, from 16th down to 18th place.

DAMS duo Roy Nissany and Ayumu Iwasa also got into trouble, with Nissany reprimanded over “driving unnecessarily slowly whilst exiting the pit lane on two reconnaissance laps prior to the start of the sprint race” and Iwasa dropping from eighth to 10th with a 5s penalty for forcing Carlin’s Logan Sargeant off on lap one.

Charouz Racing System’s Enzo Fittipaldi inherits the point for eighth place as a result.

In F3, Carlin’s Enzo Trulli got a 30s penalty post-race for pitlane speeding and Campos’s David Vidales was given a 10s penalty and two penalty points for colliding with Charouz’s Zdenek Chovanec, but Campos won its appeal against that decision as it turned out there had been no contact.