The American racer experienced a heavy crash during the qualifying round on Saturday, resulting in extensive damage to his car and necessitating a chassis replacement.
An unexpected finding by the FIA observed that the team had exceeded the accepted preparation limit for the spare vehicle – amounting to practically a third vehicle beyond the usual protocol.
Williams faced the stewards early Sunday morning and elucidated the issue, which originated from the early commencement of work on the spare chassis by mechanics as the need for it became imminent. This work began in theory prior to the time when such activities are usually permitted according to official rules.
Given that the penalty for changing a damaged chassis was an automatic pitlane start for Sargeant, the stewards determined that an additional penalty of 10 seconds would be imposed on him.
The FIA released a statement declaring their awareness of the potential adversity under the existing rules that could prevent a team from making it to the race start if the mechanics did not get to work until the parc ferme session had concluded.
In the FIA‘s words: “It should be noted that the available working time during Parc Fermé for assembly of a complete car is limited, and hence in case of severe accident like this, the Stewards may jeopardise the participation of a car in the race.”
Robson said: “Obviously, we’re not allowed to do very much overnight. So it’s been sat there with the covers on. We got the spare chassis out and did as much as we could for that. The team is just getting on with a build now. It’ll be tight, but it’ll be fine. No problem.”
When queried about what needed to be replaced in the car, Robson revealed: “Almost everything. It will have spare chassis, spare power unit. A previously used one, so no additional penalty. Spare gearbox. Same thing, a previously used one. Floor, rear wing, front wing.”