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Fines, penalties and pain: When driver racewear goes bad

NASCAR driver Joey Logano was recently fined $10,000 for wearing illegally-modified gloves to enhance his car’s performance, but he’s not the only driver to fall foul of his own racewear.

Joey Logano, Team Penske, Shell Pennzoil Ford Mustang

Photo by: Rusty Jarrett / NKP / Motorsport Images

Over the years, many drivers have struck trouble with their race garments and helmets, or been fined for using the wrong or unapproved type. Starting with Logano, here are five famous instances.

Logano weaves (illegal) webbing on his gloves

Joey Logano, Team Penske, Shell Pennzoil Ford Mustang

Joey Logano, Team Penske, Shell Pennzoil Ford Mustang

Photo by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / Motorsport Images

During pre-race inspection at Atlanta Motor Speedway’s NASCAR Cup round, Logano was discovered to have gloves that had been altered, potentially for a competitive advantage.

Black webbing had been added between the left glove’s thumb and index finger, and Logano could be seen placing his left hand against the window netting during his qualifying lap on Saturday.

Some video of Logano’s qualifying lap at Atlanta and discussion of the use of his gloves is included in the Fox Sports clip below.

 

The alterations that had been made meant he was utilising racing gloves that were not SFI certified. As a result, Logano – who had qualified second – had to start Sunday’s race from the rear of the field and had to serve a drive-through penalty on pit road once he took the green flag.

He was later fined $10,000 for contravening NASCAR’s safety code, under ‘Driver Responsibilities & Driver Protective Clothing/Equipment’.

Pants! Di Grassi fined for the wrong underwear

Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler

Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Formula E stalwart Lucas di Grassi was fined for wearing non-compliant fireproof underwear during the Punta del Este ePrix in 2018, in which he finished second to Jean-Eric Vergne.

Di Grassi was summoned to the see stewards after the race and it was determined that “after checking the clothes, helmet and FHR [frontal head restraint, or HANS device] of the drivers it was found that the driver [wore] short flame-resistant underwear pants which are not allowed by the ISC [international sporting code],” according to an FIA bulletin.

The then-reigning champion was fined €10,000 and give three penalty points on his license, but was allowed to keep his first podium finish of the season.

“The driver apologised,” continued the statement. “The Stewards consider that in this case a fine is sufficient. Penalty points [have] to be added because of the incident against safety regulations.”

Di Grassi explained that he wore the non-compliant clothing after running out of dry race-suit underwear in the hot conditions at the coastal Uruguayan circuit earlier in the day.

“It was a decision that I took today because of the extreme heat and I ran out of underwear,” he said. “I didn’t want to use a wet one – so I just put a new one [on].

“And I didn’t think this underwear issue would be any issue. But, of course, I must be aware that I should wear compliance during a race.”

Herta gets an unwelcome shock from his headsock

Colton Herta at Toronto

Colton Herta at Toronto

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

IndyCar ace Colton Herta got a surprise on the streets of Toronto in 2022, when his pursuit of race winner Scott Dixon, and defence of second place from Felix Rosenqvist, were hurt when his hair flopped into his face when the balaclava inside his helmet failed.

Herta admitted his job was made much more difficult in the closing stages of the race when his famously fulsome mane had flopped forward, limiting his vision through his visor.

“I couldn't really see much because my head sock broke,” he said. “All of my hair went in front of my face. I could see Felix when I went through Turn 3. I could kind of judge the gap… I was having to look out the sides of my visor instead of in front.

“It sounds like a lame excuse and I try not to make excuses. I really couldn't see much. This head sock that I have has to hold back a lot of hair so I can understand why it broke. It's the first time I've ever actually seen that or heard of that.”

When asked about using potential hair accessories in future, Herta replied: “I could cut my hair and get a toupee or something? I don't know!”

Not fogged off: How Coulthard begged a favour from Schumacher

David Coulthard, McLaren MP4/11B, wearing Michael Schumacher's spare helmet

David Coulthard, McLaren MP4/11B, wearing Michael Schumacher's spare helmet

Photo by: Sutton Images

Formula 1 stars David Coulthard and Michael Schumacher didn’t always get along. Their infamous bust-up after colliding at Spa in the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix springs to mind as evidence of that fact. But two years earlier, the German did the Scot a great favour.

After suffering from severe visor fogging in the wet warm-up session, McLaren’s Coulthard turned to Schumacher – who wore the same brand of helmet – and asked if he could borrow the Ferrari legend’s spare.

“I had a terrible problem in the warm-up with my helmet,” explained Coulthard. “The visor was completely steamed up and I couldn't see after one lap, and I didn't feel confident I could fix the problem.

“So, I asked if I could borrow one of Michael's helmets and he had no problem to lend me one and we just covered his personal sponsors over and off I went. It was a very unusual thing to do. He did not hesitate, he said ‘yes okay, no problem’ and I raced and finished second.”

Which was great for Coulthard, but not so good for Schumacher – who crashed out from pole position halfway around the opening lap! Team boss Ron Dennis wanted the helmet after the race as a memento, but Coulthard kept the original for himself and arranged for Dennis to receive a replica.

George Russell: Literally too big for his own boots!

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG F1, climbs into his cockpit

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG F1, climbs into his cockpit

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

When George Russell got his big break by joining the all-conquering Mercedes F1 team in place of a COVID-stricken Lewis Hamilton in the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix, he had one problem – he didn’t quite fit in the car.

During his seat fitting in the Mercedes W11 on the Wednesday before the race, Russell found that it was a tighter squeeze than his regular surroundings at Williams – at 6' 1", Russell is more than four inches taller than Hamilton.

To remedy this, Russell revealed he used UK size 10 race boots instead of his usual size 11s; Hamilton races with UK size 9 boots.

“It definitely was a tight squeeze,” Russell admitted. “My size 11 feet were a struggle, so I'm having to wear a size smaller shoe than would be ideal. So that's slightly uncomfortable.

“This is not the way I envisioned my first opportunity in a Mercedes race car! But I'm sure I can endure the pain to get this opportunity.”

After just missing pole position around the rarely-used ‘Outer Circuit’ at Bahrain International Circuit, Russell looked poised to win until a rear-left puncture handed the victory to Racing Point’s Sergio Perez.

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