Formula 3 driver Nikola Tsolov’s penalty for colliding with a rival during a practice session was “too lenient”, the series’ CEO has said.

The Alpine academy driver was given a three-place grid penalty for swerving into Alex Dunne’s car after being held up in Melbourne.

Tsolov was on a flying lap in the closing minutes of the session when he caught Dunne’s car on the approach to turn 11 at the end of the back straight. Dunne appeared unaware of the car approaching and was weaving his car to warm his tyres, leading Tsolov to lift out of the throttle.

Seemingly frustrated at having to abandon his lap, Tsolov swerved towards the MP Motorsport car. The pair made contact which sent Dunne into the barriers on the right-hand side.

After investigating the incident, Tsolov was hit with a three-place grid penalty for the sprint race for making “unintended” contact. Dunne was reprimanded for impeding Tsolov.

Tsolov’s penalty prompted criticism from many fans who felt it was insufficient, particularly when compared to others issued during the weekend. Isack Hadjar lost victory in the F2 sprint race after a post-race penalty for contact with rivals shortly after the start.

F3 CEO Bruno Michel said the matter had been discussed since the race weekend and similar incidents in future will receive more severe penalties.

“It’s been a bit debated, this issue, as you probably know,” he said in response to a question from RaceFans. “Of course, it’s not my place to comment towards [stewards’] decisions. It’s never going to be my place. These guys are doing a very good job, and it’s not an easy one.

“Now I think, both them and the FIA recognise that the penalty was too lenient and was not consistent, probably, with what had been done before in other similar issues. So this decision, from what I understand, will not create a precedent and it’s not being accepted as such.”

Formula 3’s next round will take place at Imola alongside F1 and F2 as part of the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix weekend. An in-season test took place last week in Barcelona, in which Campos driver Mari Boya was quickest.

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