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Charles Pic handed pre-race drive-through penalty

Oct 12, 2013, 7:15 AM EDT

F1 Grand Prix of Japan - Practice Getty Images

After ignoring a red light during qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix, Caterham’s Charles Pic has been handed a new and unprecedented penalty: a drive-through before the race has even started.

The Frenchman ignored a red light during qualifying at Suzuka today after Jean-Eric Vergne’s brake fire caused the first session to be red flagged. Despite the red light showing, Pic exited the pits five seconds after the pit lane closed, warranting the penalty.

According to the stewards: “Car 20 crossed the pit exit line at 14:17:10. The red light was at 14:17:05. It is noted this is the second consecutive event in which the driver has driven through a red light.”

Pic had ignored the red light call to visit the weighbridge in Korea, for which he received a reprimand that saw him receive a ten-place grid penalty for this weekend’s race in Japan.

However, due to penalties given to Jules Bianchi and Adrian Sutil, the Caterham driver only dropped one place on the grid to P20 after qualifying.

It would appear that the stewards believe another grid penalty would have little impact on Pic, with the stressing of the fact that this is a repeat offence suggesting that this is the biggest factor in the decision.

Therefore, Pic will have to take the drive-through within the first five laps of tomorrow’s race, with the best strategic decision appearing to be to take it on the opening lap of the race to minimize the time lost.

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