Japanese ART driver and Honda development driver Nobuharu Matsushita has been banned from the next GP2 Series meeting in Spielberg after he was found guilty on two counts of dangerous driving behind the Safety Car during the series’ crash-hit Sprint Race in Baku last weekend.

Matsushita, who was in the lead at all three restarts, had caught the Safety Car at the first restart before reaching the Safety Car line where drivers are permitted to go racing again. He thus had to slow down to make sure he didn’t overtake, this caused confusion behind him and triggering a number to make contact on the start/finish straight and into Turn 1, immediately redeploying the Safety Car.

“At the end of the first period, it was found that the Japanese driver overtook the Safety Car before the Safety Car line and drove in an erratic manner, causing danger to other competitors,” read a statement issued by organisers.

At the second restart, Matsushita slowed down for most of the straight in order to make sure a repeat wouldn’t happen, controlling the pace after effectively taking the Safety Car’s role when it pulled in. By the time he put the hammer down near the pit lane entry – and then suddenly braked – the field had bottled up so much that several drivers overtook each other before the second Safety Car line where the race is actually restarted. That triggered more crashes at Turn 1, again bringing out the Safety Car. The organizers found this to be Matsushita’s fault for accelerating and braking repeatedly before the restart, handing him a suspension from the Austrian Grand Prix support races.

“At the end of the second period, Matsushita was found guilty of driving in an erratic manner, accelerating and braking, again causing danger to other competitors and causing several collisions to cars following him.

“As a consequence, the ART Grand Prix driver will be suspended for the next round at Spielberg.”

At the next restart the Honda protégé was taken out by Raffaele Marciello into Turn 1, putting an end to his difficult day in the car.

The ART team will be allowed to field a replacement driver in Matsushita’s enforced absence.

Despite a crash-ridden race, only two penalties were handed out post-race; the other was a three place grid drop handed out to Arden’s Jimmy Eriksson for the Austrian Feature Race for his Turn 1 crash with Jordan King.

Image via GP2 Series Media

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Ahmad Shallouf

Contributing Writer at MotorsportM8

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