Fabio Leimer has criticized the penalty that he received while leading the second GP2 race of the weekend in Bahrain on Sunday.
The Racing Engineering driver had worked his way into the lead of the sprint race in the early laps, and was managing a gap of just over two seconds back to the chasing pack when he was deemed to have gone too quickly under yellow flags through the first sector. The resulting drive-through penalty dropped Leimer out of the points, and the Swiss believes he was treated harshly by the stewards.
"I am obviously very disappointed with what has happened," he said. "I know I would have won. But I received a drive-through penalty, which I think is a harsh decision. Not only because it cost me a race win – it is the first penalty I have had in my entire career relating to yellow flags. I am generally not one of the drivers who are irresponsible when on track and causing dangerous situations."
Leimer added that he would have preferred the stewards to investigate his sector time under yellow flags after the race, so his team could have provided data that proved he had slowed down.
"The car felt good and I went faster and faster," he said of his stint in the lead of the race. "When there was a yellow flag in Turn 4, I knew about it and therefore pushed during the corners before to be able to lift off the throttle during the section with the yellow flags [without losing time overall], as, most probably, most of the drivers did as well.
"I personally would have preferred they let me finish the race and look at the data after, which would have made it clear that I went slower under yellow. I am 100 percent sure we would have taken the win."
Racing Engineering sporting director Thomas Couyotopoulo explained that Leimer appeared to have not slowed down on the timing screens because his car was getting quicker with every lap at that stage of the race.
"With the decreasing fuel load and running in the lead, Fabio continued to set faster and faster lap times," he said. "The stewards decided to religiously apply the rules and give a drive through penalty for ignoring yellow flags when Fabio was running all by himself and even lifted his foot off the throttle. This has cost us the first win of the season."