Schumacher passes Alonso on the final corner, because of confusion over racing and safety car conditions
Mercedes GP have announced that they are not to appeal the decicion to hand Michael Schumacher a penalty at the end of the Monaco Grand Prix. This means that the provisional result, with Sebastien Buemi now entering the points, will now stand.
However, the team have still called Schumacher’s penalty “disproportionate”, and that they are to discuss the terms of Article 40.13 with the FIA, the rule which was used to penalise Schumacher after the incident. They also announced their approval of having a former F1 driver on the stewards panel. Damon Hill, who some criticised for being a former rival of Schumacher, and therefore maybe wouldn’t have been fair, received hate mail after their punishment was handed out.
Mercedes’ statement is as follows:
On the final lap of the 2010 Monaco Grand Prix, Mercedes instructed
our drivers, Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg, to race from
safety car line one until the finish line as permitted under
articles 40.7 and 40.11.
Mercedes were fully aware of article 40.13 which states that no
overtaking is permitted if the race finishes under safety car
conditions. However we believed that the combination of the race
control messages ‘Safety Car in this lap’ and ‘Track Clear’ and the
green flags and lights shown by the marshals after safety car line
one indicated that the race was not finishing under the safety car
and all drivers were free to race.
This opinion appears to have been shared by the majority of the
teams with cars in the top ten positions who also gave their drivers
instructions to race to the finish line.
It was clear from our discussions with the stewards after the race
that they understood the reasons for our interpretation and
acknowledged that this was a new and previously untested situation
but ultimately disagreed with our interpretation.
Mercedes would like to emphasise that we fully support the inclusion
of past drivers on the stewards panel and are completely satisfied
that the Monaco Grand Prix stewards acted professionally,
impartially and properly in this matter.
The FIA has agreed to include article 40.13 on the agenda of the next
Sporting Working Group for discussion and to consider the scale of
post race penalties. We believe that the 20 second penalty imposed
on Michael to be disproportionate in the circumstances.
Whilst we cannot be happy with the outcome, we are pleased that the
FIA has recognised the reasons for our interpretation. Therefore in
the best interests of the sport, Mercedes will not be submitting an
Seeing as how many appeals against these sort of penalties fail, I’m not surprised to see Mercedes give up. Still though, I’m not sure if they were in the right or not.
We have come to the conclusion that when the safety car pits on the final lap, the cars should go across the finish line with no overtaking. But, there were green flags being waved, and Fernando Alonso did seem to be quite aggressive exiting La Rascasse, whch showed that he was still racing (even if it was what cost him the place). Force India, Renault and Red Bull all instructed their cars to race until the finish line as well, so there’s still plenty of fuel for debate here.