Formula 3 Driver Wrecks a Competitor Into a Wall, Doesn't Get Suspended

formula 3 nikola tsolov crash 2024
F3 Driver Swerves Into Competitor, Not SuspendedFormula 3 / Twitter

Formula 3 driver and Alpine academy signee Nikola Tsolov will not be suspended after causing a crash on a straightaway during F3 practice in Australia. Tsolov will instead lose just three spots on the grid, a surprisingly minor penalty for what looks like a major infraction.

Tsolov came up behind the slowed car of Alex Dunne on a straightaway during the session, impeding his lap. In response, Tsolov slammed into the side of Dunne's car, sending it off track and into the inside wall.

While that may look like a rare open and shut case of one driver in an open wheel racer intentionally wrecking another for causing a minor inconvenience, FIA stewards have determined that Tsolov committed a relatively minor infraction. The final report claims that "[Tsolov] deviated from his normal racing line to drive close to [Dunne] to highlight his presence. He unfortunately misjudged this action and collided with [Dunne]." That, apparently, is enough to scale the infraction down from a possible race suspension to a penalty of just three grid spots.

While Tsolov was assigned blame for the crash, the wording suggests that he did so unintentionally. The stewards also chose to reprimand Dunne for swerving, adding that the officials "also felt the actions of [Dunne] led to the following collision and retirement of his car." In other words, the group not only decided that the consequences of Tsolov's actions were "unintended" but chose to give some of the blame to the driver hip checked into a wall on a straightaway for being hip checked into a wall on a straightaway.

It is a surprising decision, one that seemingly encourages Formula 3 drivers to wreck one another if the person in front of them is being enough of a bother and the driver claims that a crash was not the goal afterward. Nevertheless, Tsolov will start in the top 10 after his grid penalty and Dunne will start 17th.

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