Both MP Motorsport drivers of Jordan King and Mahaveer Raghunathan have been handed three-place grid drops for the FIA Formula 2 feature race at Spa-Francorchamps after the two drivers were found to have set their fastest sector times in a yellow flag zone.
Both King and Raghunathan were were found to have failed to slow down under yellow flag conditions during Qualifying at the Belgian circuit. King initially ended the session with the eighth-best time, whilst Raghunathan ended the session in eighteenth place.
The race stewards investigated the incident with the two MP drivers, taking statements from both drivers and a member of the team. The two drivers have been handed three-place grid drops as a result for the feature race on Saturday.
Jack Aitken, who ended the session with the third-best time, was also investigated but escapes punishment when he was in the area when the yellow flags first came out. The stewards found that the driver had no chance of slowing down more than he did.
The penalty also sees both MP drivers handed two penalty points to their license as King will start Saturday’s race from eleventh with Raghunathan in nineteenth place – ahead of Callum Ilott, who didn’t produce a lap time in Qualifying.
“MP Motorsport pair Jordan King and Mahaveer Raghunathan have both been handed three-place grid drop penalties, following an infringement in today’s FIA Formula 2 Qualifying, at Spa-Francorchamps,” said in a statement.
“Having examined video evidence and summed and heard the driver and the team representative, the stewards determined that neither King, nor Raghunathan, slowed down sufficiently under yellow flag conditions.
“King – who had qualified 8th – will now start from 11th, and Raghunathan – who had qualified 18th – will now start from 19th, in tomorrow’s Feature Race.
“Meanwhile, Callum Ilott has been given permission to start the Feature Race from the back of the grid, having failed to set a time during today’s Qualification, due to a mechanical failure.“
The penalty to Raghunathan means the Indian-Dutch driver has eight penalty points to his license – a total of 20 accumulated over the 2019 season. Raghunathan has already been handed a one-race ban after collecting 12 points in total, the amount needed to earn a ban.
Raghunathan has caused several incidents and trips to the race stewards in his rookie season. In his debut weekend at Bahrain, he passed the chequered flag twice during the sprint race. Other incidents include failing to stop at the weighbridge in Azerbaijan and causing an incident with Aitken at Monaco.
His biggest punishment came during the feature race at Paul Ricard, where he exceeded Virtual Safety Car rules three times, handing him three penalty points for each lap – a total of nine.
He was issued a ban for the next round at the Red Bull Ring, returning to the series at Silverstone. Raghunathan told The Checkered Flag after his ban that he had learned his lesson and understood what he did wrong.