Championship Contender Rowland critical of ‘silly’ Baku Penalty

by Paul Hensby

Oliver Rowland has criticised the decision to penalise him during the Feature race around the Baku City Circuit, which relegated him from fourth to seventh in the final results.

The DAMS driver was handed a ten-second time penalty post-race for setting a personal best time through a yellow flag zone, even though he did slow down for the section when Nabil Jeffri crashed out at turn seven.

Rowland was disappointed that a penalty was handed to him, especially as he had not set a representative sector time in that area before, so it was bound to be quicker, but after stewards handed out time penalties in-race to Sean Gelael, Robert Visoiu and Sergio Sette Câmara, they felt they had no choice to penalise the Briton, even though other drivers were quicker and remained unpunished.

“I backed off like six-seven tenths on the data, so more than enough,” said Rowland. “But the fact that I’d not done a [personal best] sector before that meant that I went green in that sector, which is like a 50-second sector. 

“So it’s a bit silly, the penalty, and they agreed with me, [plus] in F1 they have mini-sectors. They just said that because they’d penalised the others they had to penalise me as well.

“The ironic thing was that I think Leclerc was three tenths quicker than me in that sector but didn’t go green.  The people around me did the same sector but because they didn’t go green they didn’t get penalised.

“It’s absolutely ridiculous and to be fair to the stewards they said ‘look we understand it’s not really that fair and that at this sort of level we need something a bit better’ and they’re going to look into that.

“I understand from their side they have to give equal treatment to everybody, so I get that but it’s a bit wrong in some ways.  But that’s the way it goes sometimes so I can’t really dwell on it too much.” 

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