Team Ireland boss Mark Gallagher believes the penalty that cost Adam Carroll second place in the A1GP feature race at the Algarve circuit on Sunday could decide the championship.
Carroll received a 25-second penalty for passing the Team Australia car under safety car conditions. That dropped him to fifth place and cost the team five points, meaning it is now two points adrift of race winner Switzerland in the championship with two rounds remaining.
The penalty was doubly frustrating for Ireland as Carroll had already recovered from 15th place following a drive-through penalty for jumping the start.
Ireland still leads the title race with the new dropped score system taken into account, but team boss Mark Gallagher says the penalty could yet be significant.
"Adam drove brilliantly, it was possibly one of the most perfect drives anyone has seen to recover from the initial drive through penalty," said Gallagher. "The safety car restart was a mess and we were penalized. The stewards have a hard job to do, so we accept their verdict even if we find the outcome extremely frustrating.
"We aim to win this title. If we don't I suspect we will look back at today's outcome as being pivotal."
Carroll added: "After we got the drive-through penalty I just put my head down and we climbed back to second – so I am very disappointed we got a 25-second penalty.
"What happened at the safety car restart was that everyone in front started to brake, slow and fan out. Australia pulled across suddenly and slowed. I did the safest thing which was to keep going. If we'd all hit the brakes there'd have been a big accident, so there was not much of a choice."