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iSport unhappy with Ericsson penalty

27 March 2012

The iSport International GP2 team has expressed puzzlement over the stewards' decision to penalise their driver Marcus Ericcson for a spectacular accident involving Davide Valsecchi during Sunday's sprint race at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia.

Valsecchi had run wide in turn 4 while trying to overtake Luiz Razia on lap 13, and Marcus Ericsson rapidly closed up on Valsecchi as he returned to the track. The right front wheel of the iSport made contact with the left rear of the DAMS, and Valsechhi's car was flipped up into the air and into a summersault through the gravel trap. Both cars were out on the spot.

"Fortunately nobody was hurt, which is the important thing," said iSport team principal Paul Jackson after the weekend. "Disappointingly, the stewards attached blame to Marcus and handed him a ten-place grid penalty for the next race."

The penalty was handed down after stewards found that Ericsson breached the GP2 sporting regulations after causing a collision. He will serve the penalty at the feature race in Bahrain, which will be held at the Sakhir International Circuit on April 21.

Jackson couldn't help but express his confusion and unhappiness with the penalty that Swede will now have to overcome for the second round of the 2012 GP2 season.

"We will now analyse this incident to try and understand such a strange judgement," he said. "Interestingly, there was no bad feeling with Davide and he was puzzled by the steward's decision."

In a press release, iSport merely added that "The team remain positive, lessons have been learnt - and, luckily, in the early stages of the season."

Ericsson himself refrained from commenting about the incident or the penalty on social media, merely pointing to news coverage of Jackson's comments and then tweeting: "Okay, this weekend is now history. Now I will look forward to the next race, and make sure I'm as prepared as ever so I can fight in the top!"

"My accident the second race is a real pity," was Valsecchi's only comment on his sprint race crash. It emerged after the weekend that Valsecchi had nearly been snapped up by current GP2 team champions Barwa Addax, with team owner owner Alejandro Agag commenting that "We were about to sign him ourselves but he was taken away from under our noses."

Ericsson's retirement and penalty at Sepang was a disappointing end to the first GP2 race weekend of the year, which had started brightly with Jolyon Palmer going fastest in practice on Friday and then qualifying in seventh position for Saturday's feature race.

However, a team decision to opt for two new tyres only during the mandatory pit stop ultimately backfired on their efforts with Palmer dropping to 17th place by the chequered flag, as Jackson admitted afterwards.

"During pit stops we changed only rear tyres on both cars, in the hope that we could jump some of the cars in front," he explained. "This proved to be the wrong decision as we suffered more degradation of the front tyres than expected, which meant that both cars were losing ground, with understeer right through the second phase.

"This was very disappointing after such an encouraging couple of tests, where we felt very confident of our race pace," he added. "However the solution was very obvious, so we know we can fix it!"


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