MP Motorsport driver Mahaveer Raghunathan has been handed a race ban for the next round of the FIA Formula 2 Championship, after reaching 12 penalty points on his superlicence.
The Indian-Dutch driver finished the Feature race at Circuit Paul Ricard in twelfth place, and last of the classified finishers. But during the race, Raghunathan had breached VSC procedures three times.
The race stewards investigated the latter and handed Raghunathan a 15 second time penalty added to his race time, and handed three penalty points for each infringement, collecting nine points in total from race one at the south of France.
Raghunathan’s total number of penalty points has reached 12 on his superlicence, meaning that the driver has been suspended for the next round at the Red Bull Ring in Austria, which will take place in a weeks time. Raghunathan will have his 12 points removed after the next round in Austria and will be eligible to return at Silverstone, but the penalty points will stay on his record until the end of the season.
The rookie has been involved in several incidents over the course of his F2 career; including passing the chequered flag twice in the opening round at Bahrain, and tagging Jack Aitken out of the race in the Monaco Feature race.
This is the first time Formula 2 has handed a race ban to a driver in the series since Santino Ferrucci last year after his actions during the Silverstone weekend. He was shortly released by Trident after the banned was handed. It is unclear who will replace Raghunathan for the Austria round, with MP having less than a week to seek a replacement driver.
F2 veteran Artem Markelov could be a potential favourite after driving for MP Motorsport at Monaco as a substitute driver for Jordan King, Raghunathan’s team-mate, whilst he contested at the Indianapolis 500. Markelov currently races in the Japanese Super Formula series, but admitted that he would like to do more guest appearances in F2 in the near future.
Markelov could be a potential driver to call up for Austria as a stand-in replacement for Raghunathan as the Russian’s next scheduled race in Japan doesn’t arrive until 13-14th July, the same weekend F2 races at Silverstone and when Raghunathan’s ban expires.
Additional penalties were handed after the Feature race. Tatiana Calderón in the Arden was found to have breached two VSC procedures, handing her a ten second time penalty to her race time. The Colombian finished the race in eleventh place, one place away from a points finish.
Sean Gelael was found guilty in causing the opening lap collision with Prema Racing team-mate Mick Schumacher, which saw both drivers retire as a result.
Gelael will start the Sprint race from the pit lane after the stewards found the Indonesian driver went off track at Turn 3 and when rejoining, was not in full control of his vehicle, breaching of Appendix L Chapter IV, Article 2 (d) of the 2019 FIA International Sporting Code.