Matsushita to sit out Red Bull Ring weekend after Baku penalty

Nobuharu Matsushita - Credit: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service

Nobuharu Matsushita will be forced to sit out the Red Bull Ring round of the GP2 Series championship after being found guilty of causing the chaos at the restarts after safety car periods at the Baku Street Circuit on Sunday.

The Japanese racer and Honda protégé was leading at the end of three separate safety car periods at the Baku circuit, but was deemed to have driven in an ‘erratic manner’ that caused ‘danger to other drivers’.

Matsushita was found to have passed the safety car before the line allowing him to do so, and when slowing to try and prevent this, drove in that erratic manner that caused chaos and collisions behind.

Despite attempting a different way of taking the restart after the second safety car, Matsushita was found guilty again of being erratic, with his acceleration and braking bunching up the field unnecessarily that again caused more incidents behind the ART Grand Prix driver.

Although the final restart he was found to have done in a far more safer way, stewards deemed the offences warranted a race ban for the Austrian weekend of the championship, meaning ART will need to seek a replacement driver to partner Sergey Sirotkin at the Red Bull Ring.

Several drivers had criticised the safety car restarts, with Mitch Evans and Sean Gelael seen to be celebrating when Matsushita was hit by Raffaele Marciello during the final restart that cost the Japanese racer not only the lead but a race finish.