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
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.