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Worst of 2016: Matsushita puts a bang in Baku with GP2 chaos

When F1 and GP2 made its debut visit to Baku concerns on safety arose about the tight and thin parts of the street track but nobody anticipated Nobuharu Matsushita to cause the biggest headache...
As we close in on the end of 2016, it's time to look back at the biggest moments across the motorsport world – for better or for worse – over the last 12 months.

Matsushita puts a bang in Baku with GP2 sprint race chaos

When F1 and feeder series GP2 made its debut visit to Baku concerns on safety arose about the tight and thin parts of the temporary street track but nobody anticipated Honda factory driver Nobuharu Matsushita to cause the biggest headache.

Fresh off the back of his win in the Monaco sprint race, the Japanese driver was leading the Baku sprint race when a first safety car occurred. Upon the restart, Matsushita misjudged his closing speed and overtook the safety car as it pitted. Aiming to decelerate to avoid a penalty he caused Daniel de Jong and Oliver Rowland to inadvertently overtake him before the safety car line, while there was a concertina effect further back.

After a second safety car restart, Matsushita rather over-compensated by braking and weaving after an initial acceleration which had a worse effect and saw multiple collisions and a number of drivers taken out of the race.

But if karma was in effect in Baku, a couple of laps later Raffaelle Marciello clipped Matsushita which took the Japanese driver out of the race. Worse was to follow when he was banned from the next round in Austria as punishment for his Baku exploits.

First published: 19th June 2016

Matsusita handed ban for 'causing danger' in GP2 sprint

Nobuharu Matsushita has been given a one-race ban as punishment for 'driving in an erratic manner' during the GP2 Series sprint race.

The Japanese driver, a winner last time out in Monaco, was leading in the Baku sprint race when he twice misjudged safety car restarts, causing carnage behind him as the field reacted.

Having very nearly been caught out by accelerating too early and catching the safety car on the first restart, it was the restart after a second safety period that landed Matsushita in trouble.

With Matsushita dictating the pace and seemingly keen to avoid a repeat of his first safety car misdemeanour, he slowed right down, only to apparently speed up before unexpectedly braking whilst weaving again.

With the drivers behind taking the cue to speed up as his final move, the field surged forward only to have to react to the Japanese driver's unfathomable deceleration. With cars scattering behind him, causing plenty of contact, the disparate speeds on the run to turn one would prompt a pile up that would eliminate Evans, Sean Gelael and Gustav Malja, while Rowland was tipped into a spin.

Reprimanded for 'causing danger to other drivers', the ART Grand Prix driver will not be allowed to compete at the next GP2 race in Austria.

“Following today's Sprint Race at Baku, Nobuharu Matsushita was found guilty of driving in an erratic manner, causing danger to other drivers during the Safety Car period,” read an official statement.

“At the end of the first period, it was found that the Japanese driver overtook the SC before the Safety Car line and drove in an erratic manner, causing danger to other competitors.

“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.”


Related Pictures

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Norbert Matsushita - ART Grand Prix

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