Williams back-marker Kubica declared ‘driver of the day’ in error

Polish driver was incorrectly allocated a number of fan votes after Austrian Grand Prix

Poland’s Robert Kubica during qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix in Spielberg. He finished last and three laps behind Red Bull driver Max Verstappen. Photograph: Charles Coates/Getty Images

Poland’s Robert Kubica during qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix in Spielberg. He finished last and three laps behind Red Bull driver Max Verstappen. Photograph: Charles Coates/Getty Images

 

A technical error led to Williams back-marker Robert Kubica being declared “driver of the day” at the Austrian Grand Prix instead of race winner Max Verstappen, Formula One said on Tuesday.

Polish veteran Kubica, who has a big fan following but has yet to score a point in his comeback season, finished last and three laps behind the 21-year-old Red Bull driver in Sunday’s race at Spielberg. Despite that he was declared winner of the fan vote.

The official Formula One website said Kubica had been incorrectly allocated a number of votes, and Verstappen had really won 74 per cent of the total. The Dutch youngster started on the front row, made a poor getaway and then fought back from eighth to win his team’s home race for the second year in a row and in front of thousands of his travelling fans.

Verstappen’s wheel-banging overtake of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc for the lead with two laps to go led to a stewards’ inquiry before the race result was upheld.

Leclerc received 11 per cent of the vote, and McLaren’s Carlos Sainz 7 per cent after the Spaniard went from 19th on the grid to eighth.

Formula One introduced the “driver of the day” award in 2016 to increase fan engagement, with the winner announced immediately after the race finish.

Fears that voting would reflect drivers’ popularity on social media more than race-day performances were countered with an assurance that multiple votes from the same source would be weeded out.

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