Mads Østberg has received a suspended deduction of 25 WRC2 championship points and fined €1000 [$1216] for “abusive language” during a live TV interview.
Østberg finished second in WRC2 on Rally Italy, just 7.5 seconds behind class winner Jari Huttunen and in sixth place overall.
But the reigning champion had been leading and had the pace to win before problems beset his rally.
The first issue occurred on Saturday morning where he broke a brake pipe and had to reduce his pace, but it got worse on the road section back to service as a wheel issue meant he checked into service six minutes late and incurred a one-minute penalty.
That dropped Østberg back to second, 34.9s behind Huttunen but an inspired fightback allowed the Citroën driver to assume the lead again on Sunday morning’s first stage, SS17.
However the Norwegian then picked up a puncture on the following test, SS18, and certainly didn’t hide his frustration when he pulled up at the stop-line of the stage that was being broadcast live around the world on television as well as WRC Promoter’s All Live service.
“I’m so f****** annoyed, all the things happening all the time,” Østberg said, having already raged profanities prior to opening his door for the interview.
“These f****** s*** tires, I touched absolutely nothing, straightaway I have a puncture. F****** hell, I’m so f****** tired.”
Østberg is understood to have apologized for those remarks afterwards but event stewards penalized him as it was a breach of Article 12.2.1.f of the 2021 FIA International Sporting Code which revolves around “any words, deeds or writings that have caused moral injury or loss to the FIA, its bodies, its members or its executive officers, and more generally on the interest of motor sport and on the values defended by the FIA.”
He was also in breach of Article 34.1.1 which states: “Crews must always behave in a sporting manner.”
A stewards document read: “While the stewards understand that in the heat of the moment, especially after having suffered problems during a special stage it can be difficult to control emotions, drivers should always have a decent level of control of their words in a live TV interview.
“The use of swear words is considered unsporting behavior,” it added. “It damages the image of motorsport in general and contravenes the values defended by the FIA.
“All drivers in an FIA world championship should be aware that they are setting an example.”
Østberg’s points deduction and fine is suspended for the rest of the season, but will be imposed should Østberg commit a breach of a similar nature at any further point throughout the 2021 WRC season.
He is currently second in the WRC2 points table, two points adrift of Andreas Mikkelsen who crashed in Sardinia.
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