Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi have been handed post-race penalties that drop them out of the points for the German Grand Prix, with Robert Kubica now promoted to 10th.
The Alfa Romeo drivers were penalised for an offence related to the way the clutch of their cars operated during the wet standing start at Hockenheim, which was deemed to have potentially mimicked traction control in the tricky conditions.
Raikkonen and Giovinazzi had finished seventh and eighth on the road, and they have now dropped down to 12th and 13th respectively as a result of 30 seconds being added to their race times.
Their places now go to Haas drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, while Lewis Hamilton and Kubica move into the top 10 – with the latter earning the first point for Williams in 2019, as well as his own first point since the 2010 Formula 1 season.
Alfa team boss Fred Vasseur has confirmed that the team will appeal the decision.
The Alfas were reported to the stewards by FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer soon after the chequered flag after their race start data was found to not be in compliance.
A later summons clarified that the cars were under investigation for “Alleged breach of Article 27.1, as related to clutch torque application during race starts, as defined in the informational Appendix to the 2019 Formula One Sporting Regulations related to Art 27.1 part C2.”
In the FIA document outlining the penalties, the stewards explained how the teams are allowed the option to tune some of the parameters for their clutches via the common ECU on all cars.
But the torque in the clutch must matches the torque demand as the driver releases the clutch at the start within specified limits and this must occur within 70milliseconds.
In the case of the Alfa drivers, Raikkonen’s car took 200milliseconds and Giovinazzi’s took 300milliseconds.
“This provided a more gradual application of the torque, which given the wet conditions was a potential advantage,” read the FIA bulletin.
“Regardless of whether there was an actual advantage, the stewards determined that this was a clear breach of the guidance given to the teams as to how this would be adjudicated.”
Alfa argued that the cause of the issue “was that they were caught out by the unusual weather conditions and the fact that they did not do any practice starts under these climatic conditions and set the parameters in a way that failed to meet the requirements”, per the FIA bulletin.
But the stewards declared: “The obligation to meet the requirements is irrespective of the climatic conditions.
Therefore, the stewards considered that a breach of Article 27.1 occurred.”
The stewards opted to give each Alfa driver a 10 second stop/go penalty, which was converted into a post-race time addition.
“The Stewards noted that this was a breach of the sporting regulations and as a guide compared this to a false start with a potential advantage which carries a normal penalty of a 10 second stop-and-go under the sporting regulations,” the FIA bulletin concluded.
In a statement released by Alfa, Vasseur said: “It is extremely disappointing to have both cars penalised and pushed out of the points in what had been such an exciting race.
“The situation arose during the laps we spent behind the safety car ahead of the standing start: we suffered a dysfunction of the clutch that was beyond our control and we will further investigate the issue.
“We respect the FIA’s process and the stewards’ work, but will appeal this decision as we believe we have the grounds and evidence to have it overturned.
“In this regard, we will be in touch with the FIA soon. Kimi and Antonio drove very well in challenging conditions and seventh and eighth place were the rightful reward for their performance.
“The team worked really hard to put both cars in the points and we showed once again that we have the pace to fight at the sharp end of the midfield.
“This race was a great showcase for Formula 1 and it’s a pity it ended this way.”