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McLaren’s Piastri protest into F1 track limits rejected as “inadmissible”

McLaren’s protest against Oscar Piastri’s penalty for an alleged track limits infringement during Austrian Grand Prix qualifying has been rejected by the FIA stewards because it was inadmissible.

The Woking-based team had lodged a formal complaint against the results of qualifying because it was unhappy that Piastri had been penalised and lost his third place on the grid.

Having sought clarification from the FIA regarding how clear the evidence was against Piastri, it said that what are alleged to be blurry images from a trackside camera and helicopter, which were also impacted by shadows, had not made things crystal clear.

Team boss Andrea Stella said: “Our approach to racing is we don’t want what we don’t deserve.

“But when the penalty is so harsh, then in the interest of sport – it’s not in the interest of McLaren – there needs to be clear evidence.”

Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL38

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

But following a stewards’ hearing on Saturday evening, and before the FIA stewards even considered the evidence against Piastri, the protest was rejected on procedural grounds.

Firstly, the FIA said that, as stated in the FIA’s International Sporting Code, decisions taken by the stewards are not open to protest.

Furthermore, the FIA also said that some aspects of the protest document submitted meant it had to be rejected.

These included the fact that it was addressed to the Clerk of the Course and not to the Chairperson of the Stewards, that it did not specify any relevant regulations it was protesting about, did not specify against whom the protest was lodged and did not identify the concerns of the protesting party.

Andrea Stella, Team Principal, McLaren F1 Team

Andrea Stella, Team Principal, McLaren F1 Team

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Stella had been clear that McLaren wanted to be sure that Piastri had actually gone outside the white lines that define the edge of the track – but had not seen any evidence to suggest that was proven.

“We wanted to look at the evidence whereby the car was beyond the track limits beyond any reasonable doubt,” he said. “I cannot say that the beyond reasonable doubt is satisfied.”

He added: “In this case, it’s just everything blurred and affected by the shadow.

“It’s quite a lot to come here, compete, put together qualifying laps, and when the penalty is so severe, like having the lap deleted, then we need to make sure that the penalty is enforced beyond any reasonable doubt.”

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