Published on May 24th, 2013 | by F_Zanier

Lesson 1: How Not to Start a Race

Have you ever been told that races aren’t  won at Turn 1? Well, probably some GP2 drivers still haven’t heard that story: in the video above you can see what happened today at the start of Race 1 in Monaco, at the Sainte Devote corner (indeed, Turn 1).

Probably quite angry for a bad start that neutralized a deserved pole position, Johnny Cecotto Jr. overshot the braking point and went straight into the wall, bringing with him a faultless Leimer. That started a chain reaction that saw Ceccon hit Bird and Leal punt Palmer sending him into a spin that blocked the track, forcing the whole group to stop and sparking a few more contacts. Race Control had no other options than red flag the race: 14 cars were involved in total, and 9 were too damaged to take part in the restart.

As a consequence, Cecotto was suspended from tomorrow’s sprint race, an unprecedented decision in the series’ history and a punishment that could seem a bit too harsh for something that in the end was just a driving mistake. Unluckily for him, Cecotto was already under the spotlight after his reckless move on Canamasas in Barcelona, and GP2 was heavily criticized for not taking any action against his unsporting behaviour at that time.

To sum it up, today’s penalty doesn’t seem to be a right call for what happened today, but more the result of two actions piling up on each other: fair enough, but then the official Stewards decision should have mentioned that. I agree that GP2 needs to take strong measures in order to preserve driving standards, and that Johnny has gone a bit wild lately, but writing that Cecotto is excluded from Race 2 because “he failed to negociate turn 1 and caused a collision at the start of this morning’s feature race” isn’t 100% true and sends out the wrong message, tells people that such a penalty can be issued for a driving mistake.

Cecotto isn’t really a colleagues’ favourite in the GP2 Paddock but despite that some drivers expressed their disappointment about the decision through Twitter.
Tom Dillmann posted a pretty polemic tweet after the race: “A ban for a driver mistake… But no actions on dangerous behaviour to other drivers? Once again they act on consequences and not acts. Wrong”. The tweet was removed one hour later, but his point still stands: are GP2 in control of the situation or is it slipping through their fingers?


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About the Author

In love with racing since I was a kid, from 2004 on I was lucky enough to make it my job. A motorsport reporter for Italian magazines (SportAutoMoto, Paddock) and websites, I’ve also experienced working on the other side of the fence, mainly as Series Coordinator and PR Manager for the Auto GP World Series (2010-2012) and as Event Coordinator for the Gulf 12 Hours in Yas Marina Circuit.

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