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Gianni Morbidelli loses first-ever pole

Gianni Morbidelli has lost his first-ever pole position in the World Touring Car Championship, taken at the Salzburgring, for having improved his time under yellow flags.

The Italian has been adjudged to have driven too fast under waved yellow flags during the Q1 session and as a result has been handed a five-place grid penalty for the first race, losing out on his maiden pole position in the series.

The result hands pole position to Yvan Muller and ensures that a Citroën driver will have started from pole position for all of the first races during a weekend this season. It is the second time that Muller has inherited a pole this year, after he benefited from his team-mate José María López’s exclusion in France.

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“This penalty looks a bit harsh, taking into account that during today Q1 Filippi’s car was resting in in a safe place in the straight line, it could be spotted very easily,” explained the Italian of the incident which cost him his pole position. “I had already chalked up another lap good enough to enter Q2, therefore I have not robbed anybody of a deserved spot in Q2.

“Being docked five spots tomorrow may well belong to the letter of the book but looks a tad removed from sportsmanship. Moreover, the measure would have made more sense if it had been taken on the spot: let’s not forget that I gave my all in Q2 and Q3 on a day when three red flags were waved and a good amount of debris were left on track by drivers who like me gave their best.

“I rate my self a sportsman and I do not maintain that a yellow flag wasn’t there in Q1,” admitted Morbidelli. “Nevertheless this penalty may delete my spot but doesn’t delete a day of great effort. That you can not hear a sound in the Münnich Motorsport garage tells you more than any words could.”

Morbidelli will start race one from sixth on the grid, behind Tom Chilton. The reverse grid for race two remains unchanged and means that Morbidelli will have to start from tenth on the grid, as the penalty does not change the qualifying classification.

In addition the Italian has been fined €3,000 by the FIA for the incident.

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  1. Once again, the rules seems very wrong regarding yellow flags in qualifying. If it was a safety issue, surely the session should be red-flagged…as only the one driver on a qualifying lap is penalised.
    Someone please explain how you are EXPECTED to do a slow qualifying lap?


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