Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc has seized his third pole position in a row ahead of Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix, but Renault’s Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo has been demoted to the back of the field after a technical breach.
The 21-year-old Leclerc, who started the last two races in Belgium and Italy from the front and went on to win both races, lit up the timing screens with a time of one minute, 36.217 seconds on Saturday.
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Mercedes’ world champion Lewis Hamilton was 0.191 seconds slower, with Monegasque Leclerc’s Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel qualifying third after aborting his final lap and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen fourth.
But Ricciardo, who had qualified in eighth place, one place ahead of teammate Nico Hulkenberg, later saw his results erased after stewards ruled his car’s energy recovery system had deployed too much power in the Q1 segment of qualifying.
Renault argued that the excess was very small and offered no measurable benefit but stewards said that was no defence under the rules.
The demotion meant Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi, who qualified 12th, will line up 10th since 11th-placed Sergio Perez has a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change to his Racing Point.
Ferrari, who have struggled around twisty circuits, had not been the favourites going into the weekend but Leclerc marked them out as contenders after setting the pace in the final practice session.
“We came here knowing that it would be a difficult track for us, but the team has done an amazing job to bring the package we needed,” he added once out of the car,” Leclerc said.
The race has been won from pole eight times out of 11 editions.
Hamilton, last year’s race winner and the runaway championship leader with a 63-point advantage over teammate Valtteri Bottas, said he was happy to be on the front row.
Vettel, who came into the weekend eclipsed by Leclerc, appeared to have pulled out some of the old magic with provisional pole but pulled into the pits after errors on his final lap.
Saturday was the seventh successive time the four-times world champion, without a win for more than a year, had been outqualified by Leclerc.
Dutch 21-year-old Verstappen will still fancy his chances with Red Bull finishing second in Singapore for the last five years.
Bottas, who has never started the race in the top three, qualified fifth.
Thai rookie Alexander Albon, in only his third start for Red Bull after moving up from Toro Rosso, lines up sixth in what is almost a home race.
Aussie F1 star Daniel Ricciardo may be on the older side of the grid having turned 30, but he’s definitely young at heart as he’s shown with his latest prank on Charles Leclerc.
The current grid is the youngest ever to have started the season but the 30-year-old Aussie has been at home with 19-year-old McLaren rookie Lando Norris and now 21-year-old Ferrari wunderkind Leclerc.
The pair got up to some social media hijinks in a hilarious Instagram Story battle.
Ricciardo also had a bizarre and hilarious chat with 22-year-old Red Bull star Max Verstappen in Singapore as the former teammates reconnected.
He has countless moments like that every season but one he’s yet to taste with Renault could be his favourite.
The Aussie star admitted he would love to pull out the shoey again when he gets back on the podium.
“I’m craving it,” he told Channel 4 when asked for a prediction of when his next shoey may be. “Let’s be conservative and also realistic and say first half of next year. Let’s get the shoe off.”
Pushed further on how he’s been dealing with the season so far.
“It’s been tough,” he revealed. “That is where the hate comes in for the sport. It’s a love/hate a lot of the time. It’s hard and it’s frustrating.
“You can prepare as well as you can, come into a weekend and say you feel amazing and the headspace is good then something happens.
“That’s the part that can really take the wind out of your sails, but fortunately I’m able to sleep it off and wake up the next day and go again.
“I know moping around doesn’t really help so after punching a few walls I feel pretty good.”
It also comes after the controversial Japanese Grand Prix where Leclerc was penalised 15 seconds post race after he was judged to have been to blame for the turn two incident with Verstappen and then drop three laps with a damaged front wing.
Leclerc agreed it was his fault.
“I had a poor start. I got a little bit distracted, I saw Seb moving a little bit and then my reaction time was very poor,” he said. “The start was not so bad but the reaction was very poor.
“And with Max I just did a mistake, clearly. I was on the inside and being behind Seb and Lewis I lost the front a little bit.
“Normally you need to anticipate those things and I didn’t. Yep, I’m the one to blame.”
Scott McLaughlin’s maiden Bathurst victory hangs in the balance after officials slapped a team orders rule breach charge against DJR/Team Penske.
The charge was handed down after an inquiry into the “disgraceful” actions taken by Supercars driver Fabian Coulthard during a late safety car period at the Bathurst 1000.
Officials originally hit Coulthard with a drive-through penalty during the race for breach of safety car procedures which saw him bunch and hold up the field as McLaughlin pitted for fuel for the final laps.
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Coulthard’s actions saw McLaughlin’s lead increase from one second out to 47 after the yellow flags where first waved.
Heavy backlash flowed with Coulthard hitting back as he was just doing what he was told.
“It was a directive from the team,” Coulthard told Supercars.com.
“The team said to me ‘take extreme caution, the engine is hot’.
“I’m actually reading my phone now and I’m getting smashed for something I’ve been told to do.
“I’m a little bit pissed off. I did what I was told and I’m getting murdered for it.”
The result will continue to remain provisional until a further hearing takes place at the Gold Coast 600 in late October.
A lengthy review took place on Sunday night where footage, radio transmissions and data from the cars was examined before the charge was laid.
“Following the Race the Stewards summonsed the Authorised Representative of Racing Team (Aust) Pty Ltd, the Driver of Car #12 and Car #12’s engineer to a Hearing and requested that the DRD obtain a recording of the radio communications between Car #12 and Car #12’s engineer during the SC deployment,’’ said CAMS in a statement.
“After interviewing Mr Story, the Driver of Car #12 and Car #12’s engineer, and reviewing Hawk Eye footage of the incident, including in-Car footage from Car #12, the interview of Mr Story and Supercars telemetry data for Car #12, the Stewards, while making no findings, determined that the evidence was sufficient to call upon Racing Team (Aust) Pty Ltd to answer whether it breached Rule D24.1 and recommended to the DRD that he consider laying a charge of a breach of that Rule.
“The DRD having determined to lay such a charge, and the Authorised Representative of Racing Team (Aust) Pty Ltd having explained that he required an opportunity gather and present evidence in defence of that charge and the DRD having sought an opportunity to secure further evidence, the Stewards closed the Inquiry at 2210hrs.”
The rule in question, D24.1, states that “Team Orders 24.1.1 Means an instruction to a Driver or Team member, either verbal or otherwise the effect of which may interfere with a race result.”
Team boss Ryan Story immediately requested the chance to build a case against the charge and clear the team from any wrongdoing. That defence will come during a hearing at the Gold Coast 600.
SUPERCARS LEGEND LABELS MOVE ‘DISGRACEFUL’
Larry Perkins branded Coulthard’s actions as “disgraceful” on Sunday night but his team, DJR Team Penske, dismissed the incident on Sunday night.
“Look I am not sure if that made the difference to who won the race,” said American motorsport great Roger Penske, the majority owner of Coulthard’s team DJR Team Penske.
“We can look at it and talk about it but it is secondary as far I am concerned when you think about it.
“Everyone had a chance, and the two top duelled it out in the end and the outcome was what we wanted.”
Coulthard’s team boss Ryan Story insisted there was a problem with overheating in the car at the time of the controversy.
Coulthard said he took it slow because he was unaware of the location of the incident which had caused the safety car. “I just got told they didn’t know where the incident was and to take extreme caution,” Coulthard said.
Van Gisbergen clearly wasn’t happy about the incident. “We certainly did get knocked down a few times today,” Van Gisbergen said. “In the pits and then working back through the pack and got held up during the safety car by someone.
“It’s pretty obvious what happened but we still would have had to fight it out with Jamie and Scott which would have been awesome and possibly closer but we were stuck behind traffic and more cars, but it is what it is.”
“That car (Coulthard) has been the sacrificial lamb all year (for DJR Team Penske),” he added.
Supercars legend Mark Skaife said after the race that DJR Team Penske had used “gamesmanship” to keep McLaughlin ahead of van Gisbergen during his final pit stop.
“If you want to be glass half empty, you say they purposely slowed the whole field down to create the gap they needed to create to give the buffer they needed versus van Gisbergen,” Skaife said.
“But also to give them a buffer to ensure they don’t have to double stack. So if you want to play it all out, clearly there is a five car-length rule that you’re supposed to observe. Clearly that was outside the rules. It was massive gamesmanship and I’m sure the was plenty of controversy from the Red Bull garage next door. There was a bit more gamesmanship than what we first thought.”
FULL CAMS STATEMENT ON BATHURST INCIDENT
“After the race the stewards determined to conduct an inquiry into the incident on Laps 134-135 during the Safety Car deployment when the gap between cars #17 (McLaughlin) and #12 (Coulthard) increased significantly to the disadvantage of all cars behind car #12 because they were concerned that the incident may have been the result of Racing Team (Aust) Pty Ltd having issued an instruction to the driver of car #12 to slow and create an unwarranted large gap between cars #17 and car #12 for tactical reasons.
“Rule D24.1 prohibits team orders and provides that an instruction to a driver or team member, either verbal or otherwise the effect of which may interfere with a race result is a team order.
“After the race director announced the pit-lane drive-through penalty on car #12, the stewards noted on broadcast footage an interview by a Supercars Media commentator of the authorised representative of Racing Team (Aust) Pty Ltd, Mr (Ryan) Story, during which Mr Story was invited to explain the reason why the gap between cars #17 and #12 had been so large and whether it was the result of a ‘plan’.
“While denying that suggestion, the response of Mr Story and the extraordinary increase in the gap between cars #17 and #12 during the SC deployment caused the stewards to hold concerns that Rule D24.1 may have been breached.
“Following the race the stewards summonsed the authorised representative of Racing Team (Aust) Pty Ltd, the Driver of Car #12 and Car #12’s engineer to a Hearing and requested that the DRD obtain a recording of the radio communications between car #12 and car #12’s engineer during the SC deployment.
“That hearing commenced at 2000hrs on Sunday 13 October. After interviewing Mr Story, the driver of car #12 and car #12’s engineer, and reviewing Hawk Eye footage of the incident, including in-car footage from car #12, the interview of Mr Story and Supercars telemetry data for car #12, the Stewards, while making no findings, determined that the evidence was sufficient to call upon Racing Team (Aust) Pty Ltd to answer whether it breached Rule D24.1 and recommended to the DRD that he consider laying a charge of a breach of that rule.
“The DRD having determined to lay such a charge, and the authorised representative of Racing Team (Aust) Pty Ltd having explained that he required an opportunity gather and present evidence in defence of that charge and the DRD having sought an opportunity to secure further evidence, the Stewards closed the inquiry at 2210hrs.
“The charge will be heard by a panel of stewards prior to the commencement of track activities at the forthcoming Gold Coast 600.
“In the circumstances, the classifications for Race 25 remain provisional.”
Here are the key figures from a truly massive — and brilliant — weekend at Mount Panorama.
FOX SMASHES RECORDS
The 2019 event broke a FOX SPORTS record, with an average of 502,000 viewers watching the coverage — which was ad-break free.
It was 21 percent up on the 2018 race day broadcast, which brought in 413,000 viewers.
It makes the 2019 race the number one Supercars race of all time on FOX SPORTS.
FOX SPORTS channel 506, dubbed The Bathurst Channel for the week, averaged 195,000 viewers across Sunday (2am to 2am). This is now the highest rating day on any channel in subscription television history.
EYES GLUED TO THE ACTION
The highest rating moment of Sunday was the podium presentation — across Network Ten and FOX SPORTS, the presentation had a combined average national audience of 2.357 million viewers.
This was the highest rating program in its timeslot across Australia on Sunday.
As for the race itself, the average audience across Ten and FOX was 1.815 million, up 10.1 percent on 2018.
The 2019 crowd didn’t quite break the record for the highest ever attendance for a Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.
But it came mightily close.
The 2019 event saw 201,975 attend Mount Panorama. It is the fifth year in a row that over 200,000 fans have attended the Bathurst weekend.
It was slightly down on the 2018 event — the second highest all-time — which brought in 206,755.
The record remains 207,205, which was set in 2012 in the 50th anniversary of the race.
Supercars CEO Sean Seamer praised the results from another bumper weekend.
“Free-to-air coverage of yesterday’s race on Ten was up 6.6 percent on last year, while on FOX our national average rose 21.5 percent,” Seamer said.
“We’re thrilled to have had over 200,000 fans from right around Australia and abroad here at Mount Panorama this weekend.
“Over a million fans have walked through the gates since 2015 — that’s a fantastic achievement for Supercars and Bathurst.
“A big thank you to the people of Bathurst who allow us to host the biggest event in New South Wales and one of the largest in the country every year.
“The wider community here has battled through significant drought conditions recently, so to be welcomed back the way we have this year has really been appreciated.”