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Five place grid drop for Button and others in Suzuka
Five place grid drop for Button and others in Suzuka
Posted By: James Allen  |  03 Oct 2009   |  11:33 am GMT  |  60 comments

The stewards have made a decision on the drivers who failed to observe the yellow flags during qualifying in Suzuka today.

We have just been told that there is to be a five place drop on the grid for Jenson Button, Rubens Barrichello, Fernando Alonso, Adrian Sutil and Sebastien Buemi.

In an unrelated matter, it seems that Heikki Kovalainen may have to move back five places also due to the need to change gearbox after an accident.

Button and Barrichello are due to speak shortly.

Ross Brawn confirmed that neither lifted for the yellow flags which were put out to warn drivers of debris on the track following Buemi’s accident with the wall on the back straight.

From Button’s point of view although it means Sebastian Vettel is likely to reduce his points gap to him tomorrow, his main title rival, Rubens Barrichello will still be only two places ahead on the grid.

Barrichello lies 15 points behind with tomorrow’s race and two others to go.

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Should Buemi be counting his lucky stars today? I was expecting him to be starting from the pitlane behind Webbs after causing the whole fracas in the first place


I have no sympathy for any of the drivers who didn’t lift, or lifted too late. As has been said, but I think needs repeating, at least in the hearing of drivers, the decision whether to slow is not theirs to make.

Double waved yellows requires more than just a perfunctory lift, it means be ready to stop if necessary. We’ve had enough marshalls injured and killed.

I have always thought that F1 is a sport and the stewards should consider the spectacle. But in this case there is no leeway. I think just five grid slots, the same as changing a gearbox I believe, is very light, especially as so many ignored them.

Alonso’s backing off late is not backing off at all.

Shame that it might affect the racing but it is a sacrifice I am prepared to make.


Have to agree with those saying that alonso appears to have bee harshly treated.

He did lift (albeit late), didnt complete the lap and therefore got no benefit from it.

Yet he gets the same penalty as Buemi who caused most of the chaos by driving his clearly far too battered torro rosso back to the pits.

He also gets the same penalty as the brawns who got their one and only time from driving straight through the yellow flags flat out with no lifting at all.

I feel this has something to do with his comments backing flav the other week…


If Jenson had lifted and set a slow time would he have been ahead of a penalised Barry despite not getting into Q3?


Does anyone know why Brawn kept leaving it so late to send their drivers out, when it was quite predictable that there’d be further incidents?


Because they only had one set of soft tyres, they were only good for one lap and the track was going to be at its best at the end of the session


James, do you think quali rules should again be revisited after an incident like today’s? I’m not too keen on the rules, but what happens if the 5 drivers had slowed down so much and weren’t able to get a flying lap in? I’d assume they won’t get through to quali 3, but that seems incredibly unfair and downright stupid. 2 red flags and a yellow…some drivers would not have been able to get a flying lap in due to no fault of their own. Should the rules be changed for contingencies like these?


How would you change them?


It is going to be interesting to see what Kimi and Lewis will be able to do with KERS at the start.


I don’t understand why Barrichello and Button took part in Q3? I was under the impression that the disqualification of their fastest time (in Q2) was the correct punishment for setting a faster time under yellows? This would have meant they – effectively – set no valid time in Q2 and should be starting something like 14th and 15th.

The implemented interpretation of the rules appears to have disproportionately punished Alonso, who had an existing valid time and backed-off (albeit late) and aborted the lap, against Barrichello and Button who – openly admitted – had no intention of obeying the flags.


BAR4ever :Ah, I was going to post exactly the same, so thanks for saving me time and effort.

Monktonnik, the revised grid is out. The penalties have been applied on the grid positions and not on the qualifying times itself. In any case, such a judgement would be hard unless the case was heard before Q3. Meaning if they penalised JB & RB by taking away their Q2 times, you cannot the restore the Q3 opportunity to the drivers who missed it , in this case, Rosberg & Kubica.


A really valid point. Perhaps this is why there is no grid as yet.

I think you are probably right.


I agree. While I believe that the purpose of the yellow flag is not “avoid making a great laptime” but “be careful in this sector”, and the Stewards have decided that Alonso did not lift enough (if anything) in the yellow flagged sector, I would have penalised Button and Barrichello a bit further.

Actually, what the Stewards (or the Reglament) are saying is: “we will punish you with 5 grid positions, but race like hell and perhaps you can even get into Q3”.

No lap time should be considered if the racer has to drive through a yellow flagged sector. Perhaps a rules change is in order. And it is for security!


Is there a rule that you have to lift your arm to show that you respect the yellows? Because Alonso talked quite a bit about him lifting off and expecting others to get penalised, but got penalised himself. On the other hand it seems Nick got off the hook because he lifted his arm?

Also the Brawn guys didnt improve, so it seems the rule about not gaining time is not consistent?

Ahmad Albashrawi

I think Alonso was found to slow down AFTER the yellow flag area. This was obtained by studying his telemetry data.

“… while Alonso only backed off only after passing the hazard …”.

Nice try Nando 😉


Good news for Rosberg and Kubica – they’ve been bumped up into top 8 grid positions with 20kg extra fuel than the others – they could be in for a good race tomorrow


James, I’m not sure if you’re going to make a separate post, but it would be great to see a corrected starting grid and fuel weights list.


Brawn really do have an issue with set up and qualifying at the moment. This trick of leaving late and having 1 timed run has cost Button a decent crack at a good starting position for the second race running. The Brawn isn’t strong here, but you have to question an approach that makes them this vulnerable to incidents. Surely from a risk management point of view it is clearly not paying off.

Still, as long as JB gets some points tomorrow, it is all good.


do you know how they are going to apply the penalties? if they do them sequentially, in order, you get a different result to if you do them all together…


Ah there we go again, I see the hands of you know all over this, trying to prolong Jensen agony? Not really my favorite driver on the grid, but I really hope he wins it tomorrow, you’ve got to admire the fact that when given the opportunity at the beginning of the season he took it, while the Red bulls were making all sorts of silly mistakes. I actually believe Jensen has been one of the most consistent driver through out the season bared the shunt with Lewis in Belgium. Good luck to him he deserves it.


Alonso gets a penalty? He didnt even complete that lap!


Suppose the next 2 races, Button scores no points and Vettel gets both wins. 5 points difference in last race.

Yes, please.


Hmmm, that was a nice, confusing end to what’s probably the messiest qualifying I’ve ever seen.

Perhaps they should add the amount of time for an out-lap back on to the session after a red flag, so those that are out on flying laps can at least get that shot back in.

I was miffed about how last weekend’s qualy ended in a red flag, with 28 secs or something on the clock and no chance to see if Vettel or Rosberg would clinch the top spot, but today was just a total joke


Not a big enough penalty for Buemi. He should have been black flagged and disqualified.


There should be a fairer procedure in place to counter the time lost when laps are abandoned in red flag scenarios. Last week at Singapore the final session was stopped after Barrichello crashed, and nobody could make use of the remaining 26 seconds. As we saw today, drivers felt compelled to take risks in order to set their only times.

Perhaps the clock could start ticking again only once the first of the runners starts a timed lap?


sounds like a good idea.

Perhaps they should add “stoppage time” to qualifying.


Why Fernando Alonso?

He said on interviews that he had slowed down on yellow flag and could not improve his lap time which is why he missed qualification to Q3.


Generally I expected Fisi to do better, maybe this puts Badoers “achievements” in a different perspective, the Ferrari seems to be difficult to drive, or is Kimi that good?


Ferrari is difficult to drive and we see now, how good just Kimi is.


Not too bad for Jenson as Ruby is really his main threat. Even if Seb wins this one as long as Ruby does not score big points Jenson is still sitting pretty for the title. On paper Rubens is the main loser here but who knows with an eventful race he can score some good points. It will be interesting to see what Nick and Kimi can do against Seb Lewis and Jarno.

James, thanks for answering my question re: Taku in one of the previous posts. He confirmed to Reuter that he was indeed hunting for a drive.

I spotted Ralf on another photo from Suzuka on

Is he too contemplating a come back? He is very experienced so would be a big help for one of the new teams so why not ?

Off topics question for you: Are folks from the paddock following your blog and if so what are they making of it?

And of course are they any famous guys among the followers (ie:David Coulthard or Martin Brundle)?

Finally you were wondering why so may finns are reading the blog. I guess it has to do with your surname, they think you are one of them 🙂


About Ralf: He´s only a stand in for Nikki Lauda at German Television.


Hi Dan,

After hearing Mike Gascoigne say he had been talking to drivers with a lot of experience Ralf came to mind. Personally, I hope not, but if I had a pound I’d put him at Lotus next year. Only thing stopping me is MG strikes me as a sensible person.


Is the decision on Alonso not strange? He came right after qualifying on Spanish TV to claim that he had lifted and others not and therefore he was waiting for an interesting stewards meeting.

And hearing him being interviewed..I believed him.

Or was this smart Alonso using the media to yell: catch the thief! catch the thief!


I guess that will be the same Alonso that knew nothing about crashgate?


I think some of the quote got missed, because a couple of other places seem to be reporting that he said something along the lines of ‘I lifted, but unfortunately not quickly enough’.

The whole session was such a mess that I can’t even decide whether I think the penalties are just or not. I have therefore given up!


Hi James,

y was Alonso given the penalty?

From Autosport:

“I’m sure tomorrow I’ll start a lot higher than 12th,”

“I avoided the front wing in the middle of the track and I lifted and I came into the pits and we didn’t make it to Q3. I think some people improved their laps but that’s the way it is.”



The stewards determined that Alonso did actually slow down, but not until after he had passed the incident.


The penalties were deserved by the Brawns but I thought I saw Alonso clearly slow down.

Regarding next year, Kova is toast!

I foresee a big win for Vettel with only a few, if any, points for the Brawns.

But for what it is worth…. Go Jenson!

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