Rubens Barrichello has become Formula One’s second driver this year to receive a penalty for having their gear box changed early. Lewis Hamilton was the first as his box had to be changed after qualifying last weekend, and now Barrichello has been given the standard five grid slot penalty after Brawn decided to replace their’s. The full reason for this action is yet to be announced by the team, and the car seemed to be running well in the practice sessions. Gear boxes must last 4 races in 2009.
Rubens Barrichello finished the morning practice in fourth and sixth in the afternoon run. Those at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia say the Brawn BGP 001 appeared to be running fine and the Brazilian didn’t have any apparent problems with the gear box. It is possible though that the team have spotted an issue early and taken the decision to replace it now rather than risk retirement in Sunday’s race.
Barrichello is likely to qualify within the top ten, so this penalty will put him down in the lower-midfield. However, the penalty will not be applied until Barricello has completed qualifying, so the Brawn driver will be taking part in all sessions he manages to get into.
Sebastian Vettel’s penalty received for his actions during last weekend’s Australian Grand Prix stands, and the Red Bull driver, who is also likely to get into Q3, will be demoted ten places on the grid.
Vettel was ordered to the stewards office at Sepang yesterday, but it is thought that this was just so the stewards could fully explain the reasons behind his penalty; Vettel continued his race despite sustaining considerable damage to his car and running with only three wheels fully affixed. Although his pace was significantly reduced because of the safety car, Vettel still breached the regulations which say he must either stop or safely return to the pitlane.