Tag Archives: stewards

Disgraceful Schumacher deserves ban after lethal move

I have stated countless times that Michael Schumacher’s “comeback” has consisted of nothing but cheap defensive shots, and driving his opponents into the wall/gravel/grandstand. However, today’s performance takes the cake, as he shoves, into a concrete wall at 300km/h, a former team-mate which held the door open for him for 5 years.

Two different views from the Schumacher move that has sparked huge controversy already

Two different views from the Schumacher move that has sparked huge controversy already

The stewards have since served Schumacher a 10-place grid penalty for the next race in Belgium, butthis is nowhere near enough. Barrichello was inches away from a crash that could have easily been fatal, and it would have been completely Michael’s fault. He tried to justify his move by saying afterwards: “I think I left him too much room because he passed.” This single-handedly explains why I think that he should just walk away today from F1, as he has become nothing more than a pathetically arrogant, and dangerous, disgrace to the sport.

There has always been a group of supporters that have hated Schumacher for his illicit moves, such as taking out Damon Hill in Adelade to win the title in 1994, the failed championship-stealing move on Villeneuve in 1997, shoving Frentzen into the gravel in Canada 1998… do I even need to go on?

Even worse, he seems to practically endorse his moves. He stated afterwards that: “I think I left him too much room because he passed.” Clearly he has forgotten one of the most important rules in motorsport, and it’s called sportsmanship. The worst thing is, a similar accident happened today in Superleague Formula, where Chris van der Drift’s car split in half after a huge crash (although it is designed to do so):

As you heard in that video, it was a communications error that caused that crash, but it is a clear sign of what could have happened today. The main difference in this situaion was that there was no gap between the car and the wall, which meant that, in the event of a crash, Barrichello’s car would have speared sideways into Schumacher’s car (not 100% a bad thing) and ending in the cars smashing into the wall at Turn 1, with no guarantee that they would be the right way up.

Our last huge crash was only in Valencia, and it is far too soon to see how close the drivers can cheat injury again. In my view, rather than a penalty, Schumacher should just admit he has contributed absolutely nothing useful to Formula 1 this year, and is putting all of his fellow drivers at risk, and hang up his helmet for good. My favourite underdog Nick Heidfeld will be waiting to take his seat.

Here is the video again, if you didn’t see it live:

Kobayashi hit with 5-place grid penalty

Kamui Kobayashi has suffered another setback to his Hungarian Grand Prix drive, with the news that he has received a 5-place grid penalty for ignoring a red light at the end of the pit lane. The red light was for the FIA scrutineering garage, but Kamui went straight on into the Sauber garage.

This means that the Japanese driver will drop from 18th to 23rd on the grid, in between the two Hispania drivers. This means that the back row will be both Japanese drivers, with Sakon Yamamoto in 24th place (again).

Meanwhile, Pedro de la Rosa, fellow Sauber driver, will start from 9th on the grid, with a chance at his first points of the year.

Ferrari fined $100,000 and WMSC to investigate further

Ferrari have been fined $100,000 after they broke the Sporting Regulations of Formula 1 twice, regarding the team order to Felipe Massa to allow Fernando Alonso through, during the German Grand Prix. Also, the World Motor Sport Council have been referred to, meaning that they will investigate this matter further.

Felipe Massa is ordered to allow Fernando Alonso through

Felipe Massa is ordered to allow Fernando Alonso through

After the race, the team claimed that they had not ordered Massa to let Alonso through, and only “provided him with information”, even though radio transmissions proved otherwise. Also, Massa said that he allowed Alonso through,albeit of his own choosing.

The stewards decided that this incident broke article 39.1 of the Sporting Regulations, which states: “Team orders which interfere with a race result are prohibited.” Also, it was decided that the infamous article 151c of the International Sporting Code was broken , which involves bringing the sport into disrepute.

They decided on a fine of $100,000, even though they fined Ferrari $1,000,000 after Austria, when Rubens Barrichello allowed Michael Schumacher through at the very last second on the final lap, after being shouted at for many laps by the Ferrari boss, Jean Todt.

While the opportunity of further punishment is appealing, the fact of the matter is that the next World Motor Sport Council meeting is in September, by which time the excuse will be “it’s too late for another penalty”. In my opinion, a big loss of constructor’s points would do, as they would lose plenty more money by finishing further down the order. However, the drivers’ points should remain unchanged, as they weren’t the ones who orchestrated this incident, although you could argue that Felipe was a bit spineless letting Alonso through.

Ferrari were not given immediate order to allow Kubica through

In a complete contrast to Charlie Whiting’s evidence given a few days ago, it has emerged that Ferrari were not immediately ordered to instruct Fernando Alonso to allow Robert Kubica through at the British Grand Prix. Gazzetta Dello Sport has published the transcript of pit wall communications during the incident, which show that there was a long delay between the incident and Whiting advising Ferrari to let Kubica through.

Fernando Alonso battles with Robert Kubica, and cuts the next corner

Fernando Alonso battles with Robert Kubica, and cuts the next corner

According to Charlie Whiting, he immediately told Ferrari to let Kubica through. However, the radio transcript tells a different story:

13:31:05 The overtaking move takes place at Club and after one second Rivola calls Whiting, who replies after 11 seconds. Rivola asks: ‘Have you seen the pass? In our opinion there was no room to overtake.’

26 secs after the pass, Whiting asks to be given time to watch the TV footage.

13:33 Ferrari makes a second radio call – 1m55s after the pass. Alonso has completed another lap plus one sector, and is behind Nico Rosberg and Jaime Alguersuari, while Kubica drops further back.

Whiting tells Ferrari that the stewards think Alonso could give the position back. Rivola asks: ‘Is this the decision?’

Whiting replies: ‘No, but that’s how we see it.’

Rivola informs the team while Rosberg overtakes Alguersuari. On the GPS screen that shows the position of the cars, Ferrari sees Kubica dropping further back. Meanwhile, Alonso overtakes Alguersuari at Turn 2.

13:33:22 Ferrari makes a third radio call.

Rivola tells Whiting: ‘Alonso doesn’t have only Kubica behind. He would have to concede two positions now.’

While they discuss the matter Kubica is overtaken by Barrichello so Alonso would have to now give up three positions.

Whiting replies: ‘We have given you the chance to do it or not. Things being this way, the stewards will hear the drivers at the end of the race, but I understand your position.’

13:35:30 Kubica stops so Alonso can no longer give the position back.

13:45:31 The stewards investigate the Alonso/Kubica incident. The monitors then display ‘car number 8 under investigation’, 14m26s after the pass.

13:46:26 Just 55 seconds later the stewards decide that Alonso should have a drive-through penalty.

This shows that Whiting had a delay of two minutes of telling Ferrari to let Kubica through, not instantly like he had previously stated. Also, this would prove Ferrari’s claim that Kubica was dropping down the field too quickly to allow through, and it would have unfairly disadvantaged Alonso.

After a look at this evidence, I would have to question the drive-through penalty a little bit more. For sure, Fernando should have allowed Kubica through instantly, without his team telling him to, but it does seem strange that Charlie Whiting would have told the story incorrectly.

At the end of the day, while a drive-through penalty is still justifiable, the stewards’ time spent deliberating incidents must be looked at, as it had affected so many races this season.

Liuzzi given 5-place penalty for impeding Hulkenberg

Force India’s Vitantonio Liuzzi has recieved a 5-place penalty for the British Grand Prix, after being deemed by the stewards to have held up Nico Hulkenberg in Q2 in qualifying. At the Becketts corner, Liuzzi was too slow ahead of Nico, and also moved across slightly just before the corner.

This means that Liuzzi will drop 5 places, from 15th to 20th on the grid. The penalty was issued because blue flags were waving as Liuzzi exited the pits, into the path of Hulkenberg.

Alonso furious, Ferrari calls race a “scandal”

Fernando Alonso dropped to 9th after the safety car

Fernando Alonso dropped to 9th after the safety car

Fernando Alonso blasted the result of the European Grand Prix, calling it “unreal and unfair” after the safety car incident where he dropped from 3rd to 9th place, while Lewis Hamilton overtook the safety car and managed to keep his position, after a delayed drive-through penalty decision.

After the race, Fernando said:

"I think it was unreal this result and unfair as well.

We respected the rules, we don’t overtake under the yellows and we
finish ninth. That is something to think about.

It completely destroyed the race. Hopefully we can move forward
because after the victory of Vettel and podium for McLaren ninth
place is very little points for us.

We need to apologise to the 60 to 70 thousand people who came to
see this kind of race.

They gave a penalty already to Hamilton but it was too late – 30
laps to investigate one overtake."

Ferrari were similarly furious, describing the race as a scandal. Felipe Massa, Alonso’s team-mate, fell to 15th place and never recovered after the safety car. A team statement on their website read:

"A scandal, that’s the opinion of so many fans and employees who are
all in agreement: there is no other way to describe what happened 
during the European Grand Prix. The way the race and the incidents 
during it were managed raise doubts that could see Formula 1 lose 
some credibility again, as it was seen around the world."

First of all, they are both certainly correct in being furious at Lewis Hamilton, who managed to get away with overtaking the safety car, whether it was intentional or not. Meanwhile Alonso, who never broke the rules once, fell to 9th. The reason Hamilton didn’t lose any positions because of his drive-through is because the stewards took far too long to issue the penalty, by which time Lewis was able to create a large gap to stay ahead of Kobayashi after his penalty.

However, I must say that they are completely over-reacting when it comes to being annoyed about the safety car itself. Sometimes, drivers and teams lose out or benefit from the safety car deployment, and this cannot be avoided. I mean, look at Mercedes. Michael Schumacher fell to the back of the grid, and do you hear him whinging as loud as Ferrari? It is true that Schumacher wasn’t even in a points-scoring position, but it’s just an example.

Also, if Ferrari were to gain massively from the safety car, I doubt the other teams would complain as loudly as they would (Barrichello’s win in Germany 2000 springs to mind). In this case, when they lose out, they should just start thinking about how to get back up the field, but Fernando couldn’t even get past Sebastien Buemi.

While Ferrari are in the right, they need to learn that whining and over-reacting like this isn’t going to get them anywhere.

FIA to change safety car rules

Because of a lack of clarity on safety car rules, Michael Schumacher lost his points-scoring position

Because of a lack of clarity on safety car rules, Michael Schumacher lost his points-scoring position

The FIA has admitted a “lack of clarity” regarding safety car rules, and has promised to change the regulations accordingly. Following Michael Schumacher’s penalty for overtaking on the last lap as the safety car had already pitted, much critisism has been aimed at the rules for not being clear enough.

However, since then, the FIA have issued a statement, saying that the rules were not clear enough, and would consider changes at the next World Motor Sport Council meeting on June 23rd. They said:

The problems identified during the final lap of the Monaco Grand 
Prix, counting for the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship, 
showed a lack of clarity in the application of the rule prohibiting 
overtaking behind the Safety Car.

Adjustments to the regulations are necessary to clarify the procedure 
that cars must meet when the last lap is controlled by the Safety Car 
whilst also ensuring that the signaling for teams and drivers is made 
more clear.

These adjustments will help to avoid the problem which occurred during 
the Monaco Grand Prix from happening in the future.

The Formula One Commission, upon a proposal of the F1 Sporting Working 
Group will submit an amendment to the Sporting Regulations to address 
this issue. These amendments will be considered by the World Motor Sport 
Council at its next meeting in Geneva on June 23.

To be honest, I’m not sure what rule they can actually change. In the regulations, it is clearly stated that overtaking is not permitted when the safety car pits at the end of the race. Having said that, providing clarity on the issue works just as well.

Regarding the initial penalty, opinion is split. In the poll I put up yesterday, 50% believed that the penalty was wrong as it was under racing conditons, 21% wanted a smaller punishment, and 29% thought the penalty was fair.

Mercedes to ditch Schumacher appeal

Schumacher passes Alonso on the final corner, because of confusion over racing and safety car conditions

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
appeal.

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.

Here is the incident again:

Schumacher given 20-second penalty, Mercedes to appeal

Michael Schumacher has been handed a 20-second penalty for his opportunistic move on Fernando Alonso at the end of the Monaco Grand Prix. On the last corner, when the safety car pitted, Schumacher dived down the inside of Fernando Alonso, believing that racing conditions had resumed.

However, the stewards brought Article 40.13 of the Sporting Regulations into the equation:

If the race ends whilst the safety car is deployed it will enter the
pit lane at the end of the last lap and the cars will take the
chequered flag as normal without overtaking.

However, this year, the FIA opted to bring in the “safety car line”. This is a white line that, if you pass it when the safety car pits, you may then drive under racing conditions, which means overtaking is allowed. When Schumacher dived past Alonso, he had already passed the safety car line, which meant that, under the specific rule of the safety car line, the move was legal. In case you’re looking for the safety car line in the replay I have provided, it it below the green electronic flag on the left of the screen.

But, Article 40.13 won the argument, and Damon Hill, the former F1 driver of the stewards in Monaco this weekend (this year, there is 1 F1 driver in the stewards panel every race), decided that a penalty was necessary, and handed Schumacher a 20-second penalty.

This means that Michael drops out of the points to 12th place. Fernando Alonso is elevated to 6th place, and Sebastien Buemi now enters the points. Mercedes have announced their intention to appeal, and a date will be set soon.

Personally, I think it was a stupid decicion. The safety car line was put in this year for a reason, and Schumacher made excellent use of it. It was very sneaky, but an inspired move at the end of a boring second half of the race. Fernando, as you can see in the replay, was still pushing hard, which caused the mistake, which meant that he beleived he was racing under normal conditions as well.

My main argument for this is that Michael only passed Fernando at the start of the Anthon Noghes corner, which is well beyond the safety car line.

What do you think? Is it the fault of Michael to try and bend the rules too much, or was it just very clever and within the regulations? I’ll put a poll up in a few minutes. For the while, have a look at the replay and have a look for yourself (it’s Dailymotion because there’s no chance of it being taken down :) )


Ferrari fined, while Petrov, Di Grassi, Chandhok and Glock receive penalties

The FIA has handed out punishments to different drivers and teams, most of which were for gearbox-related incidents.

First of all, both Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi were given 5-place penalties, for Virgin failing to notify the FIA of the gearbox ratios they would be using within 2 hours of the end of Friday Practice. This means that Glock and Di Grassi will start 22nd and 23rd.

Next, Karun Chandhok and Vitaly Petrov also received 5-place grid penalties, this time for unscheduled gearbox changes. Vitaly Petrov changed his gearbox after his crash in Saturday morning practice, but it is unknown when Chandhok had his gearbox replaced. Either way, their gearboxes were supposed to last 4 races, so a 5-place grid penalty was inevitable.

Finally, Ferrari were fined $20,000 after qualifying, after Fernando Alonso was released unsafely into the path of Nico Rosberg. Nico was forced to brake sharply to avoid a collision, and nearly his his back left wheel against the pit wall in the process. The FIA concluded that the Ferrari mechanics failed to ensure that the coast was clear before releasing Alonso out of the garage.

You can view the FIA’s report on the two Virgin drivers here.

You can view the FIA’s report on the Alonso-Rosberg incident here.

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