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Penalty for start crash costs Hadjar Australian F2 victory

Isack Hadjar has lost his Formula 2 sprint race victory at the Australian Grand Prix after being handed a penalty for causing a start-line crash.

Isack Hadjar, Campos Racing

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

The Campos driver found himself in potential hot water mere moments after the lights went out on Saturday in Albert Park.

As he pulled to the right to pass polesitter Roman Stanek, he failed to notice his fast-starting team-mate Pepe Marti and caused the Spaniard to collide with Gabriel Bortoleto.

The latter pair made heavy contact with the wall and retired on the spot, while Hadjar continued to take the top spot on the podium.

But a post-race investigation resulted in the stewards imposing a 10-second penalty on the Frenchman, dropping him to sixth and awarding Stanek his first F2 victory.

Feature race polesitter Dennis Hauger is therefore promoted to second, while Kush Maini completes the top three.

Speaking before facing the stewards, Hadjar said: “It [the start] was quite stressful. I had a good launch and then I tried to go for the move on Roman.

“I didn’t see what was going on on my right-hand side and I just had contact. That was it really.”

Asked by Autosport if his push to secure a 6.8s margin at the front had been to negate any damage inflicted by a potential penalty, he added: “I didn’t think about the penalty at all during the race, I just drove my pace and we will see what the stewards say.

“As I said, in the car, I didn’t see what happened. I was just focused on taking the lead, so we’ll see.”

As well as being handed the penalty, two points were also placed on Hadjar’s licence.

Isack Hadjar, Campos Racing

Isack Hadjar, Campos Racing

Explaining the sanction, the FIA stewards document read: “The driver of car 10 explained that both cars 20 and 21 had a better start than him and admitted seeing car 21 moving to the left to try to overtake him.

“He also explained that he kept steering straight to leave enough room for car 21, when he suddenly felt a heavy hit on the left-hand side of his car.

“The driver of car 21 explained that he had a good launch, saw a gap between cars 10 and 20 and started the overtaking manoeuvre between both cars.

“He also explained that his front axle was alongside car 10, when the gap disappeared and he felt a big hit. 

“The driver of car 20 explained that he barely moved from the left-hand side of the track when he made contact with car 21. He also admitted not seeing his team-mate alongside him.

“Video evidence showed that a few seconds after the start of the race car 20 moved significantly to the right to get a run on the car in front of him [car 23] without realising that car 21 had a significant portion of his car alongside him.

“This move caused car 21 to move slightly to the right to take avoiding action. As a result, car 21 made contact with car 10. A second contact occurred between car 20 and 21. 

“The stewards determined that car 20 was predominantly to blame for the collision and decided to impose a 10-second penalty plus two penalty points.”

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