Japanese GP: penalty confusion

You don’t need to be a genius to guess the points of discussion in the paddock here. Choose any one of three incidents which drew the attention of the stewards. Whether they’re the sort of thing that the officials should be bothered about is arguably a more important question.

Two of these controversial decisions would not have been necessary if Lewis Hamilton had made a proper start and raised more questions about his ability to deal with pressure as the championship closes in. You could also argue that, having made a mess of his getaway, Hamilton should have tucked in behind Kimi Raikkonen instead of beginning his banzai dive down the inside.

But the question is not about Hamilton losing his cool or attempting to go racing at the wrong moment in terms of the championship. It is about whether the stewards were right to penalise him for the sort of thing that happens regularly. At the time, and in the light of suggestions that Hamilton is overly aggressive, I thought the stewards had a point. But now I’m not so sure.  Well, not when the same penalty is handed out to Massa for appearing to drive into Hamilton on lap 2.

The problem is that the stewards do not have a more flexible tariff of penalties. A drive-through is the least they could apply, much the same as a 25-second penalty was the least they could give Hamilton at Spa when, in the view of many, it did not fit the crime. Of course, Hamilton’s drive-through in Fuji was largely irrelevant because, by that stage, he had been spun to the back of the field by Massa and was already out of the equation.

What about Massa scoring an extra point thanks to Bourdais being landed with a 25-second penalty for causing the collision as the Toro Rosso left the pit lane? It looked, from the only television angle available, as if Massa had squeezed Bourdais as they reached the first corner.

But the stewards reasoned that Bourdais had been given the flashing blue light at the end of the pit lane, warning of the approach of a car at 190mph on the track. The onus was on Bourdais to avoid a collision, even though they were both racing for position and the Toro Rosso had left the pit lane. Apparently, Bourdais ‘did not back off enough’.

How much is ‘back off enough’? And what is this doing to cramp drivers’ style and kill off adventurous spirit in motor racing?

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fia-ferrari international assistance :)

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Lots of people on this post have said about Massa having two of his wheels within the white lines when into the chicane. I afraid to tell those people that they are wrong:

NB: It’s on youtube. Be quick before FOM!
NB 2: THE KERB IS NOT PART OF THE TRACK!!!

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F1Yankee said…
> the blue flag means gtfo of the way, end of story.

Shame! There were no blue flags. There was a set of blue flashing lights beside the green for go light at the end of the pit straight.

However, before the race Charlie W, the race director, told all the teams that “cars coming out of the pits have right of way” apparently because of the layout of the pit exit, so the stewards – once again – ignored Charlie as indeed did Massa who was either blind and didn’t see Bourdais or, chose to drive into him as well – after all, it worked so well with Lewis H.

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Additions:

– The incident is 11 seconds in
– Massa was at least a foot or two outside the track confines

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Nod (comment 129) is completely correct.

– The blue flags and light at the end of pit lane warns drivers that a car is coming out of the pits or racing on the track. It DOESN’T mean Bourdais has to yeild to Massa and only has to once a blue flag is shown after the end of pit lane (the horizontal white line). The first station after is on the exit of turn 1.
– Bourdais does have the racing line as he is exiting the pit lane (priority to the rejoining car ALWAYS).

Sorry F1Yankee…

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I think F1 has had its day. Its not a sport sanymore as it is full of bureacrats who don’t know a race from a knitting bee and are spoiling a competitive sport with petty rulings. It would be great if the teams went on their own, got the Canadian GP back and let the FIA die off.

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Shumacher spent years nerfing people off the track with no penalties. But he was driving a Ferrari. Hmmmm.

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BREAKING: See all the footage of the incidents on the following link showing all camera angles:

http://www.formula1.com/n ews/headlines/2008/10/853 0.html

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The White pit exit is only for exiting the pit lane to stop cars comming out directly onto the normal racing line and only applies to cars leaving the pit lane . Massa is allowed to use the whole width of the track

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Corno 85 Massa lost at least 25 seconds the pit lane has a speed limit

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James Allen mentioned to martin brundel is massa allowed to cross the pit lane exit line (never ever raced an f1 car) , Martin has and never replied about half the field crossed the line in the opening lap , if their was anything in the rules he would have commented on this

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hm.. informative )

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