sport

Rosberg escapes punishment

Nico Rosberg has avoided a penalty for overtaking during a red-flag period in Friday morning practice at Silverstone after the stewards ruled that he had driven in a safe manner.

The World Championship leader was summoned to face the stewards after passing the Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat as their two cars approached the scene of Felipe Massa's crash in the early stages of Practice One.Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo was also summoned to explain a similar incident when he overtook Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.

The rulebook expressly forbids overtaking in a red-flag situation, and Jenson Button was demoted three places in Austin in similar circumstances last year. However, the Silverstone stewards accepted Rosberg's explanation that he was surprised by the Toro Rosso suddenly slowing down, declaring that the German had 'taken reasonable action avoiding a car he thought was in difficulty'.

The stewards also ruled that Rosberg had driven in 'a safe and reasonable' manner throughout the lap in question, including when he had passed Kvyat.

'Over a minute after the red flag was displayed, car 6 overtook car 26 under red flags at Turn 15,' the stewards' ruling read.

'The stewards determined that: the driver of car 6 had driven the lap fully within the regulations and was traveling at a safe and reasonable speed throughout; that at the moment of the overtake, car 26 pulled fully off line and slowed to as low as 38kph in what appeared to be a very unusual manner, in an area of the track that was visibly completely clear; and that the driver of car 6 took reasonable avoiding action of a car, that the stewards accepted that he reasonably believed to be in difficulty.'

The statement then confirmed that Article 40.8(h) of the Sporting Regulations states that 'a pass is allowed in what has to be considered an acceptable circumstance' and that Rosberg slowed to 'as low as 39kph' after passing Kvyat and 'continued to proceed with extreme caution'.

Rosberg's escapes from official sanction have become a recurring theme during the 2014 season. The Mercedes driver was cleared by the race stewards in Monaco after his off-track excursion during qualifying effectively secured him pole position, while he also avoided a penalty for cutting the chicane in Canada when challenged for the lead of the race by team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

In the stewards' other red-flag investigation, meanwhile, Red Bull's Ricciardo was cleared of any wrongdoing after stewards found the Australian had overtaken Fernando Alonso 'within tenths of a second of the red flag signal'. Alonso was already travelling significantly slower prior to the red flag and 'therefore at the moment of the red flag the driver of car 3 was concerned with safely passing' the Ferrari.

No / Driver 6 Nico Rosberg

Competitor Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team

Time 10:28

Session Practice 1

Fact Car 6 overtook car 26 under red flags.

Offence Alleged breach of Article 30.1 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations.

Decision No further action warranted.

Reason Over a minute after the red flag was displayed, car 6 overtook car 26 under red flags at Turn 15. Having reviewed data from several cars in the same area of the track, several angles of video and having spoken to the driver concerned, the Stewards determined that: the driver of car 6 had dr iven the lap fully within the regulations and was traveling at a safe and reasonable speed throughout; that at the moment of the overtake, car 26 pulled fully off line and slowed to as low as 38kph in what appeared to be a very unusual manner, in an area of the track that was visibly completely clear; and that the driver of car 6 took reasonable avoiding action of a car, that the Stewards accept he reasonably believed to be in difficulty, consistent with Art. 40.8(h) of the Sporting Regulations relating to Safety Car periods, whereby a pass is allowed in what has to be considered an acceptable circumstance; that the driver of car 6 slowed down to as low as 39kph immediately having passed car 26, reasonably reacting to the situation and continued to proceed with extreme caution.

Watch the 2014 British GP live on Sky Sports F1. Extensive coverage of the Silverstone race weekend begins with Friday Practice from 9.45am on July 4.