Stoffel Vandoorne has been handed a three-place grid penalty at the upcoming Monaco Grand Prix for causing his race-ending collision with Felipe Massa’s Williams during Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix.
The Belgian rookie qualified second-slowest and started plum last after earning a notional 10-place grid penalty for fitting new control electronic and energy store elements to his Honda power unit.
The collision came on Lap 33, with Vandoorne defending from Massa, who had incidentally dropped to the rear of the field after the start when he suffered a puncture in an opening-lap incident with Vandoorne’s teammate Fernando Alonso.
The Brazilian veteran lunged up the inside of Vandoorne under braking for Turn 1, and an apparently unaware Vandoorne took the normal racing line as he turned towards the apex of the right-hander.
The pair made hard contact, with Vandoorne braking his right-front steering arm. While Massa was able to continue seemingly undamaged, Vandoorne slid into the gravel and instant retirement to bring out a Virtual Safety Car period.
The pair was summoned to the FIA Stewards’ office after the race, where the officials heard testimony from both drivers and respective officials from each team, as well as reviewed onboard footage and data telemetry.
Vandoorne was quickly found at fault and handed a three-place grid penalty for the upcoming Grand Prix at Monaco, on top of two penalty points to his FIA Super License. The latter brings his points’ penalty tally to three, following a one-point hit for unsafely rejoining the track at the Russian Grand Prix.
The grid penalty is a major blow for the former GP2 Series champion, particularly given the Monte Carlo circuit’s perceived suitability as one of the few Grands Prix in 2017 where it stands a remote chance of scoring points.
Image via McLaren Honda