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Second curfew joker played by Ferrari

3 November 2012

Ferrari have broken the official curfew at the Yas Marina Circuit for the second time in a little over 24 hours, as the team does everything possible to upgrade Fernando Alonso's F2012 ahead of Sunday's F1 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

F1 technical delegate Jo Bauer released a statement at 11am local time stating: "This morning team personnel of the Ferrari team, who are associated with the operation of the car, were within the confines of the circuit during the six hour period which commenced at 5:00am on 3 November, nine hours before the scheduled start time of P3 and ends three hours before the scheduled start time of P3 at 11:00 on 3 November."

The statement noted that this was the second time that the team had broken the curfew - the first being overnight on Thursday before Friday's qualifying session, the only previous time all season that Ferrari have felt the need to work out of hours.

Ferrari won't face any sanctions for breaking the curfew. Each team is allowed four exceptions to the curfew to use over the course of the season. As Ferrari have not broken the curfew prior to this weekend, they still have two further 'get out of jail free' jokers to use for the remainder of the season.

However, BBC Sport reported a Ferrari source as saying that the latest curfew was broken by one individual team member who came in early by mistake, but who did not actually engage in any work on the car once he arrived. Even so, that's enough to be a breach of the curfew regulations and enough to lose the team their second joker.

Ferrari were certainly hard at work the previous night fitting new upgrades to Alonso's car that had just been flown in to Abu Dhabi.

The team has said there there will also be significant upgrades for the next race in Austin, Texas - and the possibly accidental loss of a second joker this weekend could have repercussions for their development drive to keep Alonso in the hint for the 2012 world championship title.

The penalty for a fifth curfew breach would be to have both the team's car start from the pit lane, although the sporting regulations give the race stewards the discretion on whether or not the penalty would apply depending on the circumstances.

It's the first time that any team has broken the curfew twice at one Grand Prix event, exposing some ambiguity within the rules a to whether or not the this latest break of curfew constitutes a separate, individual breach or not. That was laid to rest by the explicit wording of the technical notice from Bauer.

"This was the second of the four individual exceptions permitted for the Ferrari team during the 2012 F1 Championship season and therefore no action should be taken," the statement said.

Other rivals on pit lane have even queried whether more than one curfew exception at a single event is legal, as the regulations agreed by the sport's working group contain no clause to cover such an eventuality.

The rules are likely to be tightened up in the 2013 regulations to ensure that there is no ambiguity in future.


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