Romain Grosjean will start the Bahrain Grand Prix from eleventh on the grid on Sunday after the stewards handed the Frenchman a three-place grid penalty for blocking Lando Norris during the opening phase of Qualifying on Saturday.
The Haas F1 Team racer initially set the eighth quickest time at the Sakhir International Circuit but was handed the grid penalty – and one penalty point on his Superlicence – for impeding McLaren F1 Team racer Norris at the final turn as the Briton was completing his first quick lap during the session.
Stewards noted that Grosjean was not told by his engineers that Norris was approaching at speed – the difference between them was in excess of 130 kilometres per hour – but the Frenchman pleaded his case that he was overtaken by Scuderia Ferrari‘s Sebastian Vettel just as he was about to start his own flying lap, which ultimately forced him to slow down ahead of Norris.
“The Stewards accept that the driver of car 8 did not intentionally intend to impede, however it is the driver’s responsibility to be aware, when travelling abnormally slowly, that faster cars may be approaching,” read the stewards statement.
Despite the grid drop, Grosjean was pleased with how the weekend has unfolded so far, with the pace of the Haas continuing to impress, which is reflected in the results for both the Frenchman and team-mate Kevin Magnussen, who will start up in sixth. He believes points for both drivers is a possibility on race day.
“I think we can be happy with qualifying both cars in the top 10, it’s very encouraging,” said Grosjean ahead of his penalty. “It looks like we’re the most stable, in terms of performance, in the top 10, which is good.
“You always hope for a bit more, but I was happy to take eighth.
“It should be a fun race tomorrow. It’s going to be long, it’s going to be hot, there’s going to be a lot of tyre degradation. I think it’s a cool track for racing, hopefully we’ll bring some good points back home.”