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Why Mercedes walked away from Schumacher appeal
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Why Mercedes walked away from Schumacher appeal
Posted By: James Allen  |  18 May 2010   |  7:52 pm GMT  |  205 comments

Mercedes has decided not to go through with the appeal into the stewards’ decision to punish Michael Schumacher for his opportunistic pass on Fernando Alonso in the final corner of the Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday.

Schumacher: Appeal withdrawn (Darren Heath)


In a statement this morning the team said it had instructed Schumacher to race in the final corner, as they believed that the track was green and therefore the race would not be finishing under the safety car.

“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, ” said the statement.

The problem here is that these signals are consistent with the end of a safety car period, not with a situation where the safety car is merely being pulled in for cosmetic reasons. Having viewed the videos again several times, it is clear that the debris from the Trulli/Chandhok accident had been cleared and that therefore the racing could start again.

In other words had there been another 10 laps in the race, it would have started again with what happened on lap 78.

However it appears that this was not the intention of Race Control. In their minds they were merely moving the Safety Car out of the way for the cosmetic appearance of the finish.

So what should have happened is that the SC boards and yellow flags should have stayed out, to indicate no overtaking, but the Safety Car itself comes into the pits.

Apparently in the stewards room everything was handled in an open minded and fair way, but the stewards’ hands were tied by the way the withdrawal of the Safety Car had been handled in conjunction with the way the rules are worded. There wasn’t much room for manoeuvre.

What is also tough is that, given there was some confusion over the way things were handled, Schumacher should be given a 20 second penalty as a result. To return the place to Alonso and drop Schumacher back to 7th place would seem a fairer punishment under the circumstances.

Mercedes have dropped the appeal because it would not change the outcome and the stewards appear to have accepted the reason for their interpretation of the rules. It’s going to lead to a clarification, almost certainly and is on the agenda for discussion,

“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.”

It’s unfortunate the way things have played out for both Schumacher and Hill. Schumacher is being painted as the bad boy again, even by his former Ferrari colleagues, while Hill was apparently very fair in his stance on the matter and yet has been landed with hate mail.

For what it’s worth the fans’ comments to this site seem to be largely supportive of Mercedes’ position. And in a poll of 2,700 people today on this site 60% said that the stewards made the wrong call.

I sense a different mood in the Jean Todt administration regarding the way the stewarding is done. It seems to be more about encouraging racing, as we have seen in previous races this season. And this has to be right.

But consistency is also vital. So it seems rather odd that Schumacher ends up demoted to 12th for this set of circumstances, while Hamilton and Vettel got only a warning for sparring in the pit lane at 100km/h.

And what of Rubens Barrichello, who threw his steering wheel into the path of another car as he leapt from his crashed Williams? This seems not to have attracted any ire from the stewards.

Apparently marshals picked up that steering wheel, or what was left of it, at the exit of the tunnel, so it had travelled quite some distance from where it started! The thing weighs over a kilogramme, not to mention that it costs around £40,000!

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205 Comments
  1. Anthony says:

    A kilo? That’s what that spring that almost killed Felipe Massa weighed wasn’t it?

    Funny thing. Ross Brawn says that most of the teams thought the race was on again, just like he did. Andrew Benson says every single team except M-B contacted Race Control straight away to say that MS broke the rules. Can’t both be telling the truth, can they?

    1. smellyden says:

      The truth in F1 is a very hard thing to find!

      1. Tim Lamkin says:

        Radio communications aren’t if the teams contact race control then it is on tape….so MB is wrong…why is that ..so tough for people to read.

    2. Paul says:

      Yes you raise an interesting question. Maybe James will provide us with some insight.

      From the outside looking in its difficult to understand how there can be such inconsistency in punishments? I wonder if the stewards just feel under pressure and end up making some wacky decisions from time to time.

    3. Craig March says:

      I was following the McLaren website at the end of the race and they seemed certain that there would be no overtaking, relaying that message to Hamilton.

      1. Phil C says:

        http://mclaren.com/home for those who want to review the messages relayed to Hamilton

        Hamilton also says to the team – “I thought you said no overtaking? Michael passed Alonso”

    4. Brace says:

      I think Brawn was aware of the rule but he decided to play ignorant and to see if they can get away with it.
      That’s why he didn’t contact race control.
      He is to smart not to do it, unless he stands to gain something by pretending he doesn’t know the rules.

      1. johnpierre rivera says:

        well said. seems to me that there is 3 separate points here.
        1. micheal is a racer through and through. no doubt that this has not changed in his time off.

        2. that alonso was asleep. not the case. i think it is just down to the fact that ferrari told him to hold station.

        3. ross’s interpretation of the 40.13. he is a very clever and sophisticated team principal. he has always pushed the limit when it comes to the grey area of the rule/s. sometimes you can get away with it (as he has on many occations), or rather his interpretation was accurate, and sometimes you can’t. which was the case this time.

        he tried, the steward review the incident and determined that what he tried was not allowed. this is why F1 has stewards in the first place.

        ross must have known that if he was on the wrong end of that decision there would be a penalty. he obviously considered this and felt it was worth the risk. however, i feel Brace has it right he, (ross) “understood it,” but felt he could get away with this move so, why not.

        anyway the rule will be re-written and made more clear. progress…

        until the next mistake :)

    5. Howard Hughes says:

      That’s gotta be nonsense. Why would most of the other teams even bother? Lotus? HRT? Toro Rosso? There’s no way that they’d be instantly complaining as their cars were crossing the finish line about a move that had no outcome to their results, particularly as every last car in the field stepped on the gas the moment the SC went back in..

    6. kenny says:

      I hope the outcome of this rule 40.13 review is not to just back up the stewards decision at Monaco.

      If there is even 1 corner & pit straight clear, 10′s of millions of people watching, and a seven times world champion willing and able to overtake— then let him overtake.

      –Even if the driver to be overtaken is susceptible to tantrums….

      1. johnpierre rivera says:

        seems to me i can remember many an occasion that a certain driver in a red car with the initials MS has had quite a few tantrums as well.

      2. Aussie Fan says:

        Really? I only remember him ever losing it once, at Spa..

  2. Stephen says:

    Was it not Chandhok who drove over it immediately after it? He made a comment about it after the race.

    1. Eje says:

      Both HRT drove over it. Apparently even after the beating it took it still worked.

      Spring weight half a kilo if I don’t recall entirely wrong so was far less weight but was also on a stretch where the cars drove far faster. But still regulations states the wheel has to be returned. Even in park ferme after a race the drivers MUST reattach the wheel. Just don’t see how this didn’t result in a penalty or punishment of any sort. Lame excuse by Rubens that he was in a hurry to get out of the car. Then just ditch it next to the car or throw it to the inside not out in open road away from the car like that.

      1. Stephen says:

        I think I remember him doing it before after a crash, could have been in Hungry when his suspension went,expensive habit to have in fairness.

      2. Ed H says:

        “…Lame excuse…” I don’t believe that you’re saying that! They do the run to Massenet at over 100MPH, and when you’re facing the wrong way, of course you’re going to panic and get out as quickly as possible. I for one don’t blame him at all, even if he did throw it out in anger. The one weekend the car is working and the team/car let him down again. I don’t see why he has to risk his life any longer than he has to just because of a stupid regulation. It was the regulations that showed Shumacher he shouldn’t bother to overtake, because he’d just get penalised. Same with Hamilton at Spa in ’08.

      3. Paul Kirk says:

        You got some good points Ed, when you think about it, “regulations, red tape, rules” etc., seems to be involved in everything we do to-day, weather in life, work, or play, and it’s stifeleing normal human existance and activities!!!!. What is this world comming to? Personally I think it’s pretty stuffed!!!! And they say we live in a “FREE” world, what a load of B/S.

      4. Yeah, Karun carried it to the tunnel and then Bruno ran over it but it still works!

      5. Frankie Allen says:

        As much as I think you are correct, there is no way you can definitively say what Rubens was intending, given those conditions. This could have been a reaction to the situation, so give him a severe reminder of his responsibilities and the fact nothing similar should happen again.

      6. MichaelC says:

        That is an interpretation Frankie Allen, if you watch the clip it is quite clear the steering wheel is thrown in frustration. It would have been just as easy to place it on the front of the bodywork. Also remember Rubens has a history of throwing his toys out of the pram.

        As regards keeping calm in such a situation, we are talking about an experienced F1 driver, it is part of their job to be calm in such situations. Or is it being suggested that Rubens can now act like a Rookie? His frustration is totally understandable, how he expressed it was not!

        If one of the new drivers had done this I wonder what punishment would have been handed out, maybe Rubens would have remarked about the danger of things being thrown onto the track.

        It is unbelievable in a sport where there is so much said about ‘safety’ that this kind of thing isn’t investigated by both the stewards and the FIA.

    2. Kenny Carwash says:

      To be fair to Rubens, I don’t think he meant to throw the wheel at all. If you watch the replay closely he practically drops it over the side of the car.

      I doubt he anticipated that it would land on the rim and roll away like it did, but he should really have placed it on the nose while he got out.

  3. Alan says:

    Seems that time after time the FIA makes these mistakes and creates grey areas in the rule book. I suggest that all proposed rule changes are posted on a blog like this by the FIA for the fans to pick apart prior to them becoming actual rules. I think a few thousand inputs will help iron out all the grey areas that seem to exist in the F1 rule book. Just a thought..

  4. Owen says:

    Given the “grey area” in understanding the regulation I agree that relegating Michael back to 7th would have been fairer to all concerned. Great though to see him returning to form and hoping this will give him the impetus to weave his magic all over again, though I’m not sure he’ll ever have the “edge” again …

    1. tom says:

      well it’s not really a grey area,

      “40.13 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.”

      http://www.formula1.com/inside_f1/rules_and_regulations/sporting_regulations/8687/fia.html

      1. Andy says:

        The “without overtaking” part is not the part that is in the grey area, it’s the “If the race ends whilst the safety car is deployed” part. There are rules which dictate what happens when the safety car will not be deployed anymore, and all those rules were followed; hence it is perfectly understandable to conclude that the race was, in fact, not ending whilst the SC was deployed, and thus 40.13 does not apply.

        The rule would be clear if it instead said “If the SC in on track during the last lap…”. Unfortunately, it doesn’t, and people have different interpretations on when the race is actually ending behind the SC. Therefore, there is a grey area in this particular rule.

      2. Michael Brown says:

        Here we go again. That rule is a huge grey area because it can very well be argued that it didn’t apply as the race ended WITHOUT the safety car deployed, as shown by the absence of SC boards, and yellow flags. The flags were green, the safety car was no longer deployed.

        The vast majority of people, even people who hate Schumacher generally, seem to share this view.

        If the rule was not a huge grey area then there would be no need for the FIA to revise it would there?

      3. The grey area is whether the race was ending under the safety car or not.

        Most supporters of M-B stance are saying that SC boards were in, no yellow flags, plenty of green ones and no debris on the track, so if it had not been the last lap, the SC would have been coming in and they were free to race after the SC line. This is the impression M-B had, and was the impression I had watching it, so everyone had the right to overtake for the last couple of hundred metres.

        If the race was to finish under SC conditions, then there should have been waved yellows, SC board and lights still on atop the SC itself.

        So the rule itself is very clear. What’s not clear is… were we or were we not finishing the race under SC conditions.

        In my view – no we were not!

        (and I’m neither a MSC fan nor a MB GP fan)

      4. Jeff Pappone says:

        I cannot believe that people are actually debating whether or not the race ended under a safety car condition. Clearly it did and it followed the exact procedure as laid out in the F1 rulebook.

        Read the rule: 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.”

        And what happened in Monaco? The safety car period extended to the conclusion of the race, so the safety car entered the pitlane at the end of the final lap and let the cars cross the line without it to give fans a cosmetic “racing finish.”

        Clearly, the intent of the rule is to not have the race end with the safety car leading the field across the line. And, when this circumstance arises, the rule is also crystal clear: The field is frozen to the finish.

        It is up to the teams to know the rules and race accordingly. And, seriously, there’s no room for interpretation here as the rule is clear about the procedure for a race ending under a safety car.

        So, no matter how hard anyone tries to create a grey area, there simply isn’t one here. End of story.

      5. michael loughran says:

        yes very true jeff! but the signals from the track indicated the race was goin ahead and not ending behind the safety car!green flags were waved instead of yellow. if they had waved yellow nobody would have been able to overtake. fia have made a blunder, so why should schumacher be penalised? he should get his points.

    2. Paul Kirk says:

      Hay, I don’t reckon he should be “relegated” at all, He should be patted on the back for his powers of anticipation and understanding of the rules, and of course the Team also advised him to do what he did. Can’t people understand that green means GO?!!! Personally I think the FIA are bending the rules to suit themselves!!! Green is GO anywhere else in the world, under any circumstances, that’s what green means! Millions of people around the world, irespective of what colour they are or what language they talk know that RED means stop, ORANGE means caution, and GREEN means GO!!!!
      PK. (NZ).

    3. Formula Zero says:

      He might not be the most popular driver among the drivers, he still has got what it takes to be a very entertaining driver. The inconsistency of the penalties are insane. It’s like different rules for different driver. I was expecting a fair race for everybody this year more than ever, doesn’t matter you are 7 time world champion or 1000 times last place finisher. But this year turned out to be the most unfair & inconsistent stewards decision season ever. So much for ex drivers as stewards!!!!! And having Damon Hill as steward is as bad it can get. I loved seeing Mark Webber winning in Monaco & he got only couple of thousands bucks for his pit lane speeding, no time penalty!!!!! The good thing is though no matter what Damon Hill does as a steward he is not gonna be able to take Schumacher’s 7 world championship back and put under his name. But it doesn’t mean that he has to take it out on the drivers that he failed to win against regularly when he was in the sport. FIA should be sued for crazy stewards decisions throughout the year.

      1. “Mark Webber … got only couple of thousands bucks for his pit lane speeding, no time penalty!!!!!”

        That wasn’t during the race so how can a time penalty be imposed?

      2. Tom says:

        Didn’t speeding in the pit lane used to result in a drive through?

  5. Marc says:

    Good write up James. So Mercedes and Schumacher take the fall for a mistake by the Marshals/Race Control.

    Oh well I’m still glad Schumacher did it. Added some Character back into the sport and certainly put a smile on my face.

    1. Tim Lamkin says:

      How is one team doing something different then ALL other teams adding character?

      1. James B says:

        Well, “ALL other teams” didn’t pull off an inspiring (and, unfortunately, illegal) overtake.

        So I have no idea why you are bringing up all other teams, this was a case of one driver pulling off a spectacular bit of opportunistic racing. It was the most interesting part of a processional race.

      2. Tim Lamkin says:

        Exactly ALL other teams understood the rules, so it seems MS move was not so spectacular.

      3. David Hamilton says:

        Well, you have to admit that an overtake for a points position was pretty unique in last weekend’s GP.

        I was all for them racing to the flag, and am bitterly disappointed to see that race control screwed it up and that the stewards incorrectly blamed a driver.

        That it is Schumacher that got the penalty makes it rather bitter-sweet, however!

    2. EST says:

      Just when Schumacher did it, I thought – karma. Some years back he took the sport into disrepute in almost the same place, parking his car. Now he’s not protected (driving a red car) anymore and he has the same rules like rest of the field and that put a smile on my face aswell.

      1. Antoine says:

        You’re NOT being fair here, in 2006 Schumacher was sent at the back of the grid when he was found guilty and you call that “protected (driving a red car)”?

      2. Formula Zero says:

        It’s not about any Karma or Rules. Not many people knows the rules 100% correctly anyway. Even if you do know the rules, it’s not clear enough for anybody to interpret. The problem is the inconsistency of the penalties handed out to the drivers so far. I believe the main reason for Mercedes pulling out of the appeal because they have figured out that they are not in the title race, neither is Schumacher. The great example about unfair decisions by the stewards explained perfectly in the last few paragraphs of James Allen article. One thing he forgot to mention was Webber getting hardly any penalty for pit lane speeding. There was no time penalty, no grid position penalty for the next race or anything that applies for speeding in the pit lane. The fine that he has to pay is worth less than his undergarments. So the consistency and fairness doesn’t exist this year by the race stewards. Didn’t expect anything different from Damon Hill anyway. He probably feels as good winning world championship by giving out crazy penalty.

    3. Alberto Dietz says:

      Spot on, Marc. Out of the absurd TV cosmetics excuses for withdrawing SC came the real Monaco highlight: Schumi’s class act passing in contrast to FA’s evident loss of traction and silly excuses. Naturally, Michael’s fanbase increased even further everywhere. Anyone who counts new it there and then.

  6. Rob says:

    Essentially, Race Control dropped the ball. When indicating to teams that the safetycar was coming in on the final lap, it should be indicated that it is being recalled under 40.13 Then there would be no confusion with flags, etc.

    1. David Hamilton says:

      Absolutely agree. It seems that F1 just has too many rules for its own good.

    2. Paul Kirk says:

      I agree, but you can’t check up on the wording of the rules in the 2.5 seconds you’ve got to make a decision! Just in case you’re not sure if green means GO just like it does every other sport, country, game, road regulation, etc. Absolute utter B/S.
      PK.

      1. Wasn’t the SC out for 4 or 5 laps? That is surely more than 2.5 seconds, no? Or was I watching a different race?

  7. f1jocker12 says:

    finally, they realized how they created more mess than clarification of the regulations.

    the 20 seconds penalty is also by the book… there’s no other way…

    so… technically… the race ended after 77 laps…

    1. Gary says:

      Why not use 16.3.c, and drop him ONE position on the grid for the next race? It’s fitting – and 20s was a massive penalty given the circumstances

      1. f1jocker12 says:

        16.3 is referring to an INCIDENT

        40′s are referring to SAFETY CAR conditions

  8. knoxploration says:

    “Apparently in the stewards room everything was handled in an open minded and fair way, but the stewards’ hands were tied by the way the withdrawal of the Safety Car had been handled in conjunction with the way the rules are worded. There wasn’t much room for manoeuvre.”

    Rubbish. The way the rules were worded was vague, and the stewards could easily have decided either way. All they had to do was say “The safety car was called in, hence the race didn’t end under safety car” — which was actually the case.

    What the stewards did was punish Mercedes and Schumacher for Charlie Whiting and his team’s error in not making it clear to the teams whether the race was ending under the safety car or not.

    “I sense a different mood in the Jean Todt administration regarding the way the stewarding is done. It seems to be more about encouraging racing, as we have seen in previous races this season. And this has to be right.

    But consistency is also vital. So it seems rather odd that Schumacher ends up demoted to 12th for this set of circumstances, while Hamilton and Vettel got only a warning for sparring in the pit lane at 100km/h.”

    It is even odder that Hamilton only got a warning for weaving, which is both forbidden by the rules, *and* doesn’t encourage racing, since its sole intent is to prevent the guy behind from being able to race.

    “And what of Rubens Barrichello, who threw his steering wheel into the path of another car as he leapt from his crashed Williams? This seems not to have attracted any ire from the stewards.”

    I’m surprised it hasn’t attracted any attention, however equally if one watches the video carefully, he throws the wheel on the ground directly next to the car. I don’t think he expected it to bounce as far across the track as it did, and I don’t think anybody reasonable would have expected it either. This doesn’t excuse him, but it does point out that he didn’t exactly throw it across the track — which is how it’s been portrayed in some of the media. At the very least, Rubens should’ve had a cash fine and a very stern talking to about his behaviour, because somebody could’ve been seriously hurt.

    1. So if the Stewards had turned a blind eye then you think all would have been well? Not so. Alonso would have lost a place through no fault of his own. Remember, he had enquired about attacking Hamilton at the restart and was told that it was not permitted and to hold station. Many people seem to think he was asleep but he was simply not expecting Schumacher to attack him and reacted instinctively, and belatedly, when Schumacher started his move.

      However, I do agree that it was unfortunate that the Stewards only had the 20 second penalty option open to them. In my mind there should be a way for the stewards to escalate something like this to Charlie Whiting or Jean Todt (or someone – not sure who) to permit a simple reversal of positions.

      Schumacher doesn’t deserve a 20 second penalty but Alonso doesn’t deserve to lose 6th either.

      1. knoxploration says:

        a) They wouldn’t have been turning a blind eye. Schumacher followed the rules as written.

        b) Please explain to me how one driver losing eight points when he didn’t break the rules is fairer than another driver losing two points when he failed to take note of the fact that the rules as written allowed another driver to overtake him?

        c) Frankly, I don’t believe the “he wasn’t expecting Schumacher to overtake him” story. That’s an invention by Ferrari after the fact, for PR purposes. We’ve not had any team radio produced to back it up, and the available evidence suggests it to be untrue. If Alonso didn’t believe Schumacher was allowed to pass him, why did he light the tires up and lose rear traction, which was the reason Schumacher was able to pass him in the first place?

      2. Taking your points in turn:
        a) BOTH Schumacher and Alonso followed the rules as written. Alonso also followed the intention behind those rules.

        b) As I said, Alonso followed the interpretation of the rules which coincided with the intention of the rules. The vagueness of the rules is to be corrected. Also, it was the teams who interpreted the rules, not the drivers themselves. Think of it this way – Schumacher took a gamble where he put 8 points on the table in an effort to gain 2. He lost! Get over it! The scale of the penalty is a result of the rules as currently written.

        c) Alonso has said that the team told him not to attack Hamilton because it was not allowed. They told Massa the same thing about Kubica. I had my iPhone beside me as Ferrari tweeted on twitter.com live that the race order would not change because the safety car was out at the start of the last lap. This was before the Schumacher-Alonso incident. However, Alonso has also said that he wasn’t surprised by Schumacher’s actions because he knows him well. If you watch the race closely you will see that it was Schumacher’s lurch up the inside that provoked Alonso to spin up his wheels, not the other way around.

        Time to get over this little bit of excitement and start looking forward to Turkey.

      3. Gary says:

        Why was 20s the only penalty available? They could have used 16.3.c, and dropped him a place on the grid at the next race … a much more fitting penalty

      4. More fitting penalty? Tell that to Fernando Alonso who would have been left 2 points down. It is highly unlikely that demoting Schumacher at the next race by one grid slot would redress the balance.

        If the race had carried on then a drive-through penalty would have been issued and the 20 second post-race time penalty is the closest equivalent. It is just tough for Schumacher that 20 seconds means 6 places due to the bunching up caused by the safety car – perhaps he will think twice in future…

      5. kenny says:

        gamble 8 points?
        Schumi is a real racer.

        remember a few years ago he passed massa on the
        last lap of Monaco – for 9th place =zero points.

    2. AlexBookoo says:

      I agree the stewards had plenty of room for manoeuvre. On one hand they had the rules, but on the other they had the fact that race control had shown the green flag. They had to make a judgement and got it totally wrong. Drivers can’t be expected to second guess flags. That would be a disaster. If a green flag is shown, at that moment the driver is being told the race is on. To punish a driver for race control’s error is extraordinary – race control misunderstood the rules, Schumacher didn’t misunderstand race control.

      1. Phil C says:

        Article 40.11 (and this is the 10th time i’ve mentioned it) – When the safety car pulls into the pits, Green Flags will be shown at the line. This season that means the safety car line. There is no amendment to say that Yellow flags will continue to the start / finish line on the last lap.

        So the marshalls did what they had to do by the rules.

        Green flags also mean – Track Clear, continue at racing speed. In this case, it could be taken that the safety car is no longer on the track – the track is clear

      2. AlexBookoo says:

        Thanks Phil, I stand corrected. Race control didn’t make an error, but there is an anomaly in the rules. It seems they didn’t update all the rules to match the safety car line change.

      3. Luffer says:

        You can mention it 100 times, it makes no difference. Rule 40.11 only applies if it is the END of the SC period. If the race is finishing under the SC then the SC isn’t coming in so Green flags don’t need to be waved!

        In Monaco Race Control are saying the SC period wasn’t ending, so, rule 40.11 doesn’t apply!

      4. Phil C says:

        The point is, there is no provision for the yellow flags to continue to be waved when the safety car enters the pits. 40.11 applies when the safety car enters the pit lane.

        There needs to be provision to 40.13 that states yellow flags will continue to be displayed. As Alex pointed out, the rule has not been changed to reflect the addition of the safety car line

  9. Kevin says:

    Just to clarify James it was the HRT of Chandhok that ran over Rubens steering wheel not Lewis’s Mclaren. For some reason everyone keeps saying it was Lewis when it wasn’t?
    In the end the fact that Mercedes has dropped the appeal suggests that they have realised they were in breech of the rules, regardless of whether it was right or not. The other point being that if it wasn’t the case and you could race Alonso would have driven more defensive around the last two corners and Schumacher wouldn’t of got the place anyway (And I’m sure people will say that he tried and failed to defend the pass from Michael when it happened, but it was a sudden instinct block as the overtake happened probably from a confused driver over what was happening). I think the problem is that when something like this happens people think “yeah that was great and spiced up the race” and that its annoying when stewards take action if there was an issue. But whether or not it was an exciting moment in the race or spiced up the show if it is in breech of the rules, it is in breech of the rules. I know it sounds droll but that is the case. If HRT fitted secret and illegal Turbo’s for Turkey just after Qualifying it would spice up the race dramatically as we all saw them charge through the field and probably win, but when they are discovered at the end of the race and disqualified would people then complain?

    1. Paul says:

      I think you’re being a little disingenuous. Do you really believe that fitting a clearly illegal turbo is comparable to overtaking under a green flag?

      Its pretty clear that race control made a mistake and Mercedes are being punished for the confusion.

      1. Kevin says:

        The point about the Turbo was showing that rule is a rule whether it be a minor one or an extreme case.

      2. Paul says:

        The difference is that turbos are clearly defined as being illegal. In this case the rule is a little ambiguous as demonstrated by the length of time it took stewards to reach a decision. Above this race control made a mistake and should not have shown green flags.

    2. JD says:

      @Kevin, you make great points.

      Given that many fans see Schumi’s pass as a way to spice things up, maybe more fans are in favor of Bernie’s proposed shortcuts than it would appear?

    3. John M says:

      “In the end the fact that Mercedes has dropped the appeal suggests that they have realised they were in breech of the rules, regardless of whether it was right or not.”

      Unfortunately, this is flawed logic in this case.

      There is a long history of appeals in F1. Oftentimes, the FIA will impose additional penalties on teams that appeal. More than once, teams have dropped an appeal simply to avoid additional draconian penalties being applied.

      1. Luca says:

        i wouldn’t be surprised if a call from Jean Todt to his old pals Ross and Michael to calm things down and just get on with it wasn’t going on behind the scenes.
        Its not quite the on going thing the FIA would want over the rules and also tarring the name of the guest steward slot – if things like this became regular then which ex-drivers would want to put their name in the hat for the task next time round.

        Lets just hope that the FIA and someone who knows racing is going over the rule book to find any other grey areas before they are tested on the track.

      2. Kevin says:

        “Flawed logic”? My point runs along the line of what you’ve said. Unless the team knows it has a strong case I.E it can prove it acted within the rules then they will normally go ahead with the appeal. Mercedes have probably got back to HQ looked over the rules and race recordings and realised that their case isn’t strong enough and wish to avoid any possible further penalty.

      3. John M says:

        No offense, but you missed my point, which isn’t along the lines of “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”

        I’m not saying Mercedes realized they were wrong and decided not to appeal.

        I’m saying there is a possibility of stiffer penalty being handed down strictly for appealing. The FIA has done this in the past.

        Mercedes dropping the appeal isn’t necessarily an admission of guilt at all.

      4. Roberto says:

        I don`t agree with the position of Mercedes withdrawing the appeal because they foud they were in breach, i think the reason was that the 20 sec penalty could not be appealed and the FIA acknowleged that it was confusing.

    4. Paul Kirk says:

      Did you notice that Alonzo got sideways out of the last corner which lost him some acceleration? What was Sandshoe Fixer suposed to do? Jam on the brakes? Hell no, he pulls out from behind him (as you would) and “low and behold” he’s in front. (Naturally because Alonzo lost momentum)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      PK.
      I can’t understand why all this B/S is going on, to me it all seems very clear!!!!!!
      PK.

  10. Carlm21 says:

    The safety car should of driven them to the finish line instead of pulling into the pits. Then there would be no confusion. Schumacher’s pass on Alonso should stand as they way the cars came out of the second to last corner suggests, they were racing.

    1. No, Alonso was told *not* to race and was simply reacting to Schumie. There may only be 200mSecond of a difference but that is a lifetime in F1.

      1. Carlm21 says:

        I dont care. It was racing from the second to last corner. If not then the safety car has to stay out and drive over the grid to the finish line to finish the race. Then there would be no racing and no confusion. The safety car coming in caused all the confusion. Schumacher’s overtake should stand and it is so annoying formula 1 let’s itself get in a mess at times. Great sport but run by fools.

      2. No, I’m afraid you are wrong, Schumacher’s overtake being allowed would be unfair to Alonso who’s team had interpreted the rules as they were intended. The rules were poorly written I agree, but Mercedes read them in a way which was not intended and should not benefit from this. Ideally Schumacher should be demoted back to 7th but the rules do not allow for this so back to 12th he goes…

        You’ve got to put loyalty to your favoured team/driver to one side when looking at this and just look at the facts and rules. Many people are just trying to justify why their team/driver should benefit which is why we are seeing such polarised opinions.

        The best outcome available within the current rules has been reached. Time to move on to Turkey.

  11. Phil says:

    James, did they have the option to penalize Schumacher just one place?

    I’m thinking that if their only choices were no penalty or a 20 second penalty, they obviously would have to choose the 20 second penalty because otherwise Alonso would unfairly lose out.

    I would agree with you that it seems very severe, but did they really have the option of a lesser penalty?

    1. James Allen says:

      No, as the penalty is a drive through and that couldn’t be served as the incident happened in the last five laps. But common sense….

      1. Frankie Allen says:

        Exactly! I don’t believe you need any clarification of the rules by race control. What is required is to give the stewards the ability to put things right, when the error has been created by the FIA themselves. Sometimes that is not feasible, but in this case it would be relatively simple.

      2. Sam says:

        May be they should introduce some yellow card like concept instead of 20 secs. It just ridiculous really. The best driver should get the best result not the most conservative driver. It just ruining the sport.

      3. Gary says:

        Why not use 16.3.c? Everyone says there were only two options, but :

        “16.3 The stewards may impose any one of three penalties on any driver involved in an Incident”

        a/b …

        “c) a drop of any number of grid positions at the driver’s next Event.”

        Given the ‘any’, I think ’0′ might be too cheeky ;-), but wouldn’t 1 position be fitting?

      4. As I’ve said elsewhere, that would not redress the balance for Alonso who was told overtaking was not allowed. It is unlikely that dropping Schumacher a grid position at the next race will benefit Alonso as Alonso is likely to be ahead of him in the first place.

      5. COLIN says:

        There’s no section in the Rule Book allowing for common sense!!!!
        Its a bit like the rule in Speedway where someone must be excluded after a race stoppage – deemed to be the person causing the stop. Most of the time its fairly clearcut, but there are those occasions when its a 50:50 “racing incident” and then common sense says put both back in, but the Rule Book doesn’t allow for this.

  12. Adamthestig says:

    On the steering wheel topic. The Williams team told Chandhok the steering wheel was returned and still worked…impressive!

  13. Danny says:

    James, is it not possible for the FIA/Stewards to put Schumacher back to 7th if they wanted to?

    1. jonrob says:

      No that is not within the list of penalties available to the stewards.

      16.3 The stewards may impose any one of three penalties on any driver involved in an Incident :
      a) A drive-through penalty. The driver must enter the pit lane and re-join the race without stopping ;
      b) A ten second time penalty. The driver must enter the pit lane, stop at his pit for at least ten seconds and then re-join the race.
      c) a drop of any number of grid positions at the driver’s next Event.
      However, should either of the penalties under a) and b) above be imposed during the last five laps, or after the end of a race, Article 16.4b) below will not apply and 20 seconds will be added to the elapsed race time of the driver concerned in the case of a) above and 30 seconds in the case of b).

  14. Jonathan says:

    What an awful dilemma for the FIA!

    If schumacher had been in a red car there would have been no problem declaring him innocent… but a red car being overtaken by schumacher must have been a nightmare for them!

    back to reality…

    Hill has been unfairly condemned for his part in this decision. The stewards had to make a decision on the facts before them. If Charlie Whiting declared that they followed their procedure to finish under a safety car then ms was guilty of an illegal overtaking move and was rightly penalised. They had no choice on what the penalty should be.

    Personally, although I approve of any penalty against the cheat on principle, I feel Mercedes should be appealing this penalty.

    The correct result should be that stewards should be given authority to vary a sentence, ms should be awarded 7th with Alonso awarded 6th on the basis that that would have been the result if the FIA had made their rules clear. Then the FIA should declare a policy ruling that in such situations the safety car sign could be lowered but that the yellow flags should remain to disallow overtaking.

    The only people who come out of this honourably are the stewards who gave the only ruling they had the authority to give.

    Having said that the stewards should have penalised Reubens for his stupidity with his steering wheel and Massa for blocking Button in qualifying.

    1. Raelene says:

      ….If schumacher had been in a red car there would have been no problem declaring him innocent… but a red car being overtaken by schumacher must have been a nightmare for them!

      Well actually – if he’d been in a silver McLaren, and had the name Lewis Hamilton, he would have just got a warning…or two…..

    2. Gary says:

      Seemingly the stewards were having so much fun with the Schumacher ruling!

      “Paul Gutjahr, one of the four Monaco stewards, told Switzerland’s Blick newspaper that the incident did not initially escape their attention.

      “Actually, we had Barrichello on the list,” the Swiss admitted.

      He explained that the issue simply fell off the agenda in the “hectic rush” to sort out the controversial Schumacher manoeuvre.”

      Wow – several hours to come up with a stiff penalty for a mistake by the officials, and no time to discuss someone seriously endangering other drivers – there’s no excuse for someone of his experience, he was wrong to do what did. And considering his part in the Massa incident …

  15. Andy says:

    It indeed is rather hard to understand how Schumi ended up being the only driver punished in the entire race, for just following racing instincts and making a pass when green flags are waved at him. Earlier in the race, on lap 2, Alonso made a pass on Chandruk during -yellow- flags and SC (for some reason media doesn’t really talk about this, even though it can be clearly seen in pictures and video), but there were no consequences for him, and given what happened to Massa last year, it’s incomprehensible how Barrichello walked out of his tantrum without any penalties.

    1. jonrob says:

      Yes a little ironic after the pre-race interview with Hill. But I have to say very pleasing for many of us. However full marks and thanks to Ross for the entertainment.
      Looks like Schumi’s found his mojo again!

    2. Tomek says:

      Chandhok and HRT let Alonso pass so no big deal there

      1. Nick says:

        I disagree, if you are to punish shumacher for passing alonso when there was confusion about the safety car being active or not, than alonso’s move on chandhook (If he allowed him to make it or not) should penalised as it was a clear breach of the rules

        Consistency is the key word here

      2. Ray says:

        If you look at the pictures circulating that show Alonso overtaking Chandhok under Yellow flags, you will notice you can see Hulkenburg’s Williams crashing ahead of them in the tunnel..

        The light had barely gone yellow when the picture was taken, so to expect Alonso, who was already committed to the overtake, to have already backed out of the manoeuvre is a little much IMO – Yes he ultimately probably should have backed out and potentially handed the place back, but given that the accident happened right before his eyes – which is the safer option – slam on brakes to pull back behind Chandhok, or proceed on towards a safe gap avoiding the crashing car, while simultaneously completing the overtake he was already committed to…. As said above.. Common Sense.. Thinking about it more, you could probably argue that Alonso entered the corner without yellow flags showing, so was clear to overtake and did..

        As for the MB/Schumi move & appeal, I completely agree that as per the letter of the rules, the safety car period had ended, and the safety car was no longer deployed, thus the race was on, albeit for the last few hundred meters… As to why MB are not appealing, the answer is simple – The penalty itself cannot be appealed – so the only possible outcome from the appeal would have been a clarification on the rules – which the FIA have already said they will do – hence in effect MB “won” the appeal without going to the FIA court of appeal..

      3. Phil C says:

        That happened earlier in the race, when the first safety car line rule applied – not on the final lap when the rules state that the no overtaking zone is extended to the chequered flag.

        No Penalty, that was a legal pass!

  16. Stefanos says:

    It is very big of Brawn and Schumacher to let this pass, in order to avoid another F1 controversy in the media. I still think that they would have won the appeal, as the court will always lean toward the wording of the regulations and not their “spirit”, as they did, e.g. with the double diffuser last year (a significantly more costly decision).

    Schumacher will not miss the 6 points, but at the same time he showed to the world that he is still the true racer he always was.

    It is a shame that the stewards were bound to preserve the integrity of the rulebook and had no other alternative for a penalty. All in all, a lose-lose situation for everyone.

    1. jonrob says:

      “I still think that they would have won the appeal, as the court will always lean toward the wording of the regulations and not their “spirit””
      The wording is very clear, thus:

      40.13 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.

      So cobbling together a different view as Ross did does not alter the rule.

      1. AlexBookoo says:

        The rule isn’t the issue. The drivers were shown green flags. Race control got it wrong. Given that, the actual rule is irrelevant becuase further down the line race control was telling the drivers something different. Drivers can’t be expected to second guess the flags they are shown.

      2. The Parsnip says:

        The wording of 40.4 is also very clear.

        “40.4 When the order is given to deploy the safety car the message “SAFETY CAR DEPLOYED” will be displayed on the timing monitors and all marshal’s posts will display waved yellow flags and “SC” boards FOR THE DURATION OF THE INTERVENTION.”

        So yellow flags = finish under safety car = 40.13 territory.
        Green flags = we’re racing again.

    2. Frans says:

      What is exactly the spirit of article 40.13?
      From what I understand, the spirit of article 40.13 is to make the racing finished without SC in front of the racing cars. The use of article 40.13 is specifically to remove SC when SC is going to cross the finish line. If the SC car is coming in because of article 40.11, then they would still finish without SC in front of them, the difference is that they would still be racing right till the end! If they can’t use article 40.11 because the track isn’t clear then they will force the SC to come in with article 40.13.

  17. John M says:

    Unfortunately, it appears that Schumacher/Mercedes is paying the price for a bad decision (or bad execution) by Race Control. They didn’t want to end the race behind the Safety Car, but didn’t really want any racing in the last few corners after the Safety Car pulled off. I think FIA doesn’t want to admit that Race Control made a mistake, however.

    As for the penalty to Schumacher, once it was determined that 40.13 was breached, the stewards applied the penalty that was appropriate. I don’t agree with it, but it was legally the correct penalty.

    “16.3: The stewards may impose any one of three penalties on any driver involved in an Incident:
    a) A drive-through penalty. The driver must enter the pit lane and re-join the race without stopping;
    b) A ten second time penalty. The driver must enter the pit lane, stop at his pit for at least ten seconds
    and then re-join the race.
    c) A drop of any number of grid positions at the driver’s next Event.

    However, should either of the penalties under a) and b) above be imposed during the last five laps, or after the end of a race, Article 16.4b) below will not apply and 20 seconds will be added to the elapsed race time of the driver concerned in the case of a) above and 30 seconds in the case of b).”

    Personally, I think they should have simply reversed the pass and put Schumacher back in 7th instead of relegating him 20 seconds down the field. Seems like it would have been a much more fair way to go. But, the stewards hands were tied by the rules quoted above regarding a penalty for violation of 40.13. It was not within their power to simply reverse the pass…they had to apply the 20 second penalty.

    1. Gary says:

      Why not drop one grid position next race? Why was 20s the ONLY penalty? (30s was an option too ;-)

  18. Spencer says:

    Ref the steering wheel, who would be expected to foot the bill to repair or replace it? Williams the team or Barrichello the driver?

    I appreciate this is a multi-million pound sport, but £40k is still a grand sum of money, especially for the lesser funded teams.

    1. Phil C says:

      Chandhok should have driven carefully back to the pits with it – HRT could have auctioned it, or sold it back to Williams, would have helped their funding!

  19. Rodrigo says:

    Rubens stated later that he quickly threw the wheel away because he wanted to get out of the car quickly as he was facing the opposite direction on a high speed sector of the track and was afraid being hit by another car.

    1. tank says:

      the safest place is in the car, not out of it. Watch his body language carefully in the overhead view. The impression I got is that he was angry the car failed

  20. Osteogeek says:

    I suspect that Ross Brawn would very well have known that the safety car was merely being brought in for the sake of appearance, particularly because he has proved himself to be an astute reader of the regulations so often in the past. It seems likely to me that Brawn spotted the grey area and chose to exploit it as the circumstances presented themselves at the end of the race and only because the stewards erred and waved green. It’s a bit of a shame that the stewards didn’t back down on this and admit their mistake as it was good to see Ross and Schumi back to their exploitative best. In any event, putting him back to 7th would have been a much more fair outcome in the circumstances. Perhaps those who have been stupid and ignorant enough to send hate mail to Hill over this have got their just rewards though?

  21. Klaas says:

    I suggest we all switch to MotoGP. Such an incident would be impossible there and you can actually overtake somebody in that sport.

    1. m de p says:

      i already did. I get much more satisfaction from motorbike racing, without all this controversy. It is just pure racing.
      But f1 it’s still much better that football. But for how long…

  22. Nash says:

    If Schumacher was not involved it would have been a no-news.

    Rosberg was interviewed right after the race by RTL and he said very diplomatically that he thought the move by MS was not valid, but added it was “super cool”.

    MS himself was interviewed by RTL right after Rosberg and with a naughty big grin, it was clear he knew he was a bit in troubled waters, and caught red-handed. When he was asked what he thought of appearing before Hill the Steward: he said with an even bigger grin: that is will be interesting, yes!

    I think MS was just having some fun with the rule thing and Alonso.. and perhaps he even calculated that he would arrive in the stewards room…

    The fact that Mercedes took the heat off, also fits in that MS is cool with what happened.

  23. Jake Pattison says:

    Once again F1 has proven itself to be in a sad state. Racing is discouraged, inconsistency rules (excuse the pun), and even obvious appeals are withdrawn for reasons unknown.

    “Mercedes have dropped the appeal because it would not change the outcome…”
    There is more to this than we are being told. Does the FIA still hold something over Mercedes, and quietly warned them not to push?

    “…and the stewards appear to have accepted the reason for their interpretation of the rules.”
    Have they? Really? I don’t think so, otherwise they would not have given Schumi the 20 seconds…

    This whole thing stinks and I’m wondering why as a fan I continue to bother watching Forumula 1. Surely it’s not for the racing.

    1. Phil C says:

      Point 1 – Drive through penalties, either during the race or added after the race, cannot be repealed – We know this from Belgium 2008, and McLaren’s appeal against Hamilton’s time penalty for re-passing Kimi.

      Point 2 – The Stewards were bound by the rules to give Schumacher either a retrospective drive through, or a retrospective stop/go. They were not able to drop him a place.

      You say you’re a fan?

      1. Jake Pattison says:

        Phil, apart from Points 1 & 2….what’s your point?

        How about Point 3 – When there is no SC on the track and with green flags/lights showing, the racing is ON.

      2. Phil C says:

        Jake – firstly I’m going to apologise for my ‘you say you’re a fan’ comment. It’s been a long day, and I should not have made that remark.

        Point 1 & 2 relate to the statements you made, could have worded those better too. The FIA don’t have any hold over Mercedes, he precident for time penalties not to be revoked was established in Belgium, that’s what Merc meant. There’s no other punishmnt the Stewards could have dished out.

        As for your point 3 – it is a really hard on to call, as the rules state the green flag must be shown at the line when the safety car comes in. Previously this would have been the start / finish line, so no problem. But rules are rules, that’s why Schumacher was punished.

        I fully agree there needs to be a clarification that adds that on the final lap Yellow Flags will be shown to the finish line. THat rule isn’t in there yet – I’m sureit will be soon though!

        The problem with swapping the positions back is that it will again create a precident, with teams arguing that they can do it every time, when they do something wrong and don’t want the retrospective drive through.

        It’s a case of dammed if they do, dammed if they don’t.

        But again I do apologise for that remark, which was un-called for.

      3. Jake Pattison says:

        Hey Phil, it’s all good mate. :)

      4. Gary says:

        Actually, rule 40.11 states

        “As the safety car is approaching the pit entry the yellow flags and SC boards will be withdrawn and replaced by waved green flags with green lights at the Line” …

        Notice the capital letter at the beginninof the word ‘Line’ … the ‘Line’ is defined as per para 5.3,

        “the control line (the Line)”

        So, the regs as they currently stand – unless overridden somewhere else – show that the FIA were wrong to show the greens on the last lap – and for all three restarts earlier too …

        Of course, this means that for the 1st three restarts they were allowed to overtake under the yellows … !!! FIX the REGS!

  24. Dominic Johnson says:

    I appreciated Rubens’ defence of (paraphrased): “the car was on fire and facing the wrong direction, of course I wanted to get out of the car as quickly as possible.”

    1. Phil C says:

      I know, but after throwing the steering wheel out, he didn’t exactly jump from the car…!

  25. Steve JR says:

    This gets me thinking how many starving mouths £40K would feed in a year? – it seems strange that something of that value is so readily tossed out as rubbish in what is little more than a temper tantrum.

    No one can argue the case that F1 isn’t excessive, but this kind of conspicuous excess doesn’t make me feel good about this aspect of the sport and just goes to show how little respect Rubens has for his employer, the safety of his fellow racers or the value of £40K.

    I wonder how my employer and pedestrians outside my office would feel if I were to throw my computer out the window when I find out I haven’t won the lottery again this week?

  26. Chris R says:

    The debris had been cleared? Surely that is at odds with Stefan’s comment that ‘it was really dangerous’.

    My experience as an armchair fan is when the safety car came out, Brundle was saying ‘Webber needs to be focused, so as not to lose on the restart’.

    The message came in that the safety car was coming in, green flags were being waved, Schumacher dived in under Alonso on the final corner.

    The UK commentary enlightened me about the new “safety car line” before the final corner, several replays showing Alonso had passed it, thus making the overtake legal.

    A few hours later, another rule appears and Schumacher demoted to 12th!

    A quite fair and entertaining overtaking move ruined because of a rule to not spoil the cosmetic spectacle of the cars crossing the line behind a safety car.

    Well that is just stupid in my opinion.

    1. Jake Pattison says:

      I agree Chris. F1 shoots itself in foot again, but sadly not for the last time I would wager.

  27. GektorS says:

    If passing was allowed in those circumstances then everybody would either try to overtake or defend their position. Based on this I do not see the schumi pass so astonishing. Blame the rules is one thing as they are far from ideal but I see MB and Sch going too clever, so clever that they
    broke the rules.

    In any case the article 40.13 is crystal clear and people who are paid tons of euros per year should know the rules from A to Z without any doubt.

    1. Jeff Cranmer says:

      I disagree. Rule 40.13 is far from crystal clear.

      If the ‘Race ends while the safety car is deployed’, then the yellow flags would still be out. Since the green flags were being waved, it is reasonable to interpret that racing could begin, and overtaking could occur as soon as the cars passed the safety car line.

      In previous years, it wouldn’t have made a difference, since the safety car line was at the start-finish line, but this year it is some distance before it.

      Basically, race control messed up. Having said that, Alonso would not have been passed if he thought racing was back on, so it’s also unfair for him to lose a position due to race control’s error. The only penalty legally open to the stewards was a 20 second penalty, so their hands were tied – either knock points of someone who is challenging for the title, or demote someone who arguably is already out of the title hunt.

      The more mischievous interpretation would be to point out that, yet again, Ferrari are the winner when shaky rules have to be interpreted. Coincidence? In this case, probably, but given Ferrari’s history, who knows for sure?

      I’m no fan of Schumacher, regarding him as one of the biggest cheats in F1 history, but even I think he came off a little unfairly done by in this instance. Considering his previous history in F1, I’m not going to shed any tears over his lost points though.

    2. AK says:

      40.4 When the order is given to deploy the safety car the message “SAFETY CAR DEPLOYED” will be displayed on the timing monitors and all marshal’s posts will display waved yellow flags and “SC” boards for the duration of the intervention

      1. Phil C says:

        Article 40.11 – When the safety car comes into the pit lane, Green Flags will be displayed at the line

        No amendment to say that yellow flags will remain out on the last lap

  28. james, i have almost finished your book on MS, couldnt help but think when he came back he had opened up and was trying to put a shine on his legacy, guess not then.

    ps:fantastic book.

  29. Craig March says:

    Maybe I should be more optimistic, but a F1 season where every single racing incident and rule bend is ruled correctly is simply not going to happen. Which to a degree is good because it makes it more interesting! Think how much time is spent by Football fans discussing incidents in a game, and how deep down they love to rant and rave afterwards. You’d think sport fans would like it to all be about the participants performance, but it’s much more fun disagreeing with the referee/steward/Damon Hill.

    The purists might not agree, but then they end up shouting the loudest anyway.

    For what it’s worth I think the rules were interpreted correctly by the Stewards, but the punishment was disproportionate given the lack of clarity in the rules and the signals on track.

  30. Mustapha says:

    desperately disappointed for michael!

  31. I have never defended Michael before (despite some grudging respect) but in this case it is a travesty that he is not merely restored to 7th place for the misunderstanding.

  32. Grabyrdy says:

    When Michael calms down, he may decide that the goodwill this has got him is worth any amount of points that, this year at least, are not going to make a lot of difference. Suddenly, he’s the underdog, being unfairly punished by the teacher who can’t admit he’s made a mistake. Goodbye Damon, Jacques and Monaco. Everybody’s hero. At last !

    I’m just uneasy that Mercedes have dropped the appeal, presumably to save the stewards’ face. What have they been promised in return ?

    1. wilson says:

      Completely agree about the good will that MS has gotten. Definitely worth more than 6th place points. It was a great move, and shows he’s still got that cheeky edge, for better or worse…..and more than anything,(and how much it would be admitted) how much people really enjoy it!

    2. Alberto Dietz says:

      Think of a future which brings back memories of W125, W196 …

  33. Steve says:

    James
    Why is this post and other previous ones in a different format to others. Additionally in this different format I get a security alert come up in Firefox informing me that your site is trying to store data on my machine for use off line or similar.
    Naturally I decline every time this pops up.
    But why the different format?
    Steve

    1. James Allen says:

      Will look into it [mod]

  34. Tom says:

    I’m disappointed that merc have followed through I wonder what has happened in the background. I’m also disappointed in Hill in a previous post I gave him the benefit of doubt when everyone was blaming him for the decision. I thought that he would have read it as a driver regardless of who the driver is, “green flag race on”. Hills job in the stewards room was to give his input from a drivers point of view he failed in this case BECAUSE it was Schmacher. I think his input in barricello incident is the reason he got no penalty. Hill failed to advise the stewards correctly as to what the driver instinct is in seeing a green flag.

  35. Érico says:

    Read this for a full explanation on Barrichello’s situation.

    http://blog-do-ico.blogspot.com/2010/05/volante-e-controle-remoto.html

    Basically, the stewards had a lot in their hands with Schumacher passing Alonso and forgot to go after Rubens to ask for explanations. By the time they did, it was too late and Barrichello, along with most of the people who worked that day, were long gone. In a similar episode, Button threw at Rascasse a controle that he accidently carried with him when he left the pits during qualifying. He was fortunate a track worker saw it and quickly picked it up. The incident wasn’t investigated at all.

    Like I said before, it is very unfortunate to have Hill in this mess.

  36. Prof Bolshaviks says:

    Great article.
    Shame the FIA don’t seem to listen to the fans and switch the positions back without the need for an appeal.
    They messed up and it would go a long way towards restoring credability.

    1. Phil C says:

      Where did they mess up?

      1. Prof Bolshaviks says:

        When they wrote unclear rules. They accepted that there us a problem hence discussing it t the next meeting. Also it took three hours to decide, clear cut decisions don’t take three hours.
        The intention of the stewards was to finish under the safety car, fine. Mercedes then broke the rule in question. Fine.
        However they did not make it clear that it was finishing under the safety car at the time.
        This was their mistake. Writing an unclear rule and enforcing it following a confused message to the teams.
        The backlash from fans on sites like this suggests that mercedes was reasonable in their interpretation of the wording. Even if ultimately incorrect.
        Rules which are open to such interpretations are confusing for fans and teams. A great many mercedes and Schumacher fans will still complain about this for a long time.
        Fans which pay for the FIA and teams to go racing. So they messed up by upsetting 60% of fans. I got that number from this website.

      2. Phil C says:

        yup agree with that – Sorry thought you meant the stewards or the marshalls had messed up. Agree the FIA need to look at those rules.

        As I’ve stated many times, there is a rule saying the Green Flag has to be displayed at the line when the safety car comes into the pits. There is no amendment to state that on the last lap this will remain yellow.

        There is also no wording that the Race Director will inform teams that the race will end behind the safety car. There should be

  37. BiggusJimmus says:

    Yeah, there you go. It was about a misunderstanding and levels of rules etc. Punishment too harsh, under the circumstances. Talk about it in the next meeting. Okay, move on.

  38. James H. says:

    Obviously, a poorly written rule, and MS should be given his 7th place. But, listening to the live broadcast in the U.S., all three commentators knew that the race would finish as if the safety car was still out, so why not Mercedes? Are communications so poor at Monaco that they could not have asked for a quick clarification? To race a couple of corners on really cold tires would have been entertaining, but insane. Besides, I heard Alonso was texting his favorite restaurant in Antibes for a reservation, which excuses his lapse of concentration. (The guy is a great driver, but he looked like an American soccer mom driving a Cadillac Escalade.)

  39. Fausto Cunha says:

    Rubens atitude with the steering wheel is just stupid and should be punishead hard by the stewards and by his team.

    His frustration and the accident are not an excuse for what he did.

    I think the stewards are closing their eyes to some things and the criterions for future races might be dificult to adjust to same situations.

  40. Rhys D. Web says:

    For my money the most distressing aspect to this whole incident is the reaction itself by the “fans” of the sport.

    The Hate mail for Hill and the abuse that Joe Saward received on his blog for merely doing what they respectively saw as their jobs, is appalling. I’m not sure that just calling it “passion” is fair. Formula 1 does inspire passion and the fact that people really do care about their favorite drive or teams fortunes are part of what makes the sport what it is. However, like anything, there is a line that, once crossed, takes what was a positive and turns it into a negative.

    This is an example of one of those times. Whether what Schumacher did was legal or not is not the point (and not very clear, either) It is neither appropriate or acceptable to call into question the integrity of Hill or, in my example, Joe Saward, for offering an opinion. Joe’s has no bearing on the outcome and Damon’s was fully tempered, I am sure, by a desire to the right thing by the sport and by the opinion of 3 other stewards.

    For what it’s worth I think that Brawn’s decision to not appeal is the right one. They wouldn’t have won anyway as race controls view of events, that the safety car was only coming in due to the last lap rule and not because racing was resuming, is the only one that matters. Brawns view that the race had restarted for one corner was what, I think, most of us watching thought was the case. However, we were wrong.

    Havign said that, does Schumi deserve the complete loss of points for it though, no I don’t think he does. Again however, rules are rules and the only option was to let the incident stand, which would be unfair to Alonso, or give the penalty outlined by the rules, which is unfair to Schumacher. Lose/lose either way.

    All of that doesn’t make a very solid footing for justifying abuse though, or for passing it off as merely “passion”.

    1. Jomy John says:

      With regds to Joe Saward. If you see the tone that he used to describe Schumacher, one can easily see why fans reacted the way they did. Its all fine for journalists to open their own blogs and stuff, but they also got to realize that there are fans who see some of the drivers as their idols. So a bit of caution should have been exercised rather than just stating that schumi is back to his cheating best.

      1. Rhys D. Webb says:

        Firstly, it’s probably not very appropriate to discuss in detail Joe’s blog at James’. I only mentioned it as an example of the poor behavior of some of those who call themselves “fans” of the sport who are in fact more akin to religious zealots than supporters.

        However, on that broader issue of fan behavior. I am afraid that I disagree completely with you and the Schumacher zealots. Personal attacks on someone for offering an opinion about Formula 1 is not acceptable, at all. Particularly on an issue that is not very clear cut like the incident in Monaco. To suggest that someone use a better “tone” or should use “caution” (Your words not mine) when offering an, in this case, well informed opinion on their own site, is not something that I could ever agree with.

        I would suggest that perhaps it is those who are engaging in the personal attacks who should adjust their “tone” or exercise “caution” in regard to their behavior. Would you not agree?

      2. Jomy John says:

        I am not saying I condone abusive or foul behaviour. Merely stated that I could reason with those fans who couldn’t bear their idol being called a cheat. There are drivers, and then there is “Michael.” Welkommen to the Schumacher phenomenon :)

        On the flipside, its better if they vent their frustration on the comments section rather than doing something extreme in real life.

    2. Phil C says:

      This is the best post I have read on the incident, and I fully agree with it!

      1. Rhys D. Webb says:

        Thanks Phil. I appreciate the comment. Cheers.

  41. Ago says:

    Hi
    the 40.13 is very clear and it is not new, last year it was 40.14 with exactly the same wording.
    When the safety car is out during the last lap
    - it rejoins the pits (so it does not cross the finish line)
    - Is it forbidden to overtake between the pitlane entry and the finish line.

    Changing the flags from yellow to green is described in 40.11 (40.12 last year) :
    - As the safety car is approaching the pit entry the yellow flags and SC boards will be withdrawn and replaced by waved green flags with green lights at the Line. These will be displayed until the last car crosses the Line.

    So seen from the book it looks like the stewards in Australia 2009 got it wrong not the stewards in Monaco 2010.

    However -and this to me is where the problem lies- should the 40.11 be applied as it begins with the words :
    “When the clerk of the course decides it is safe to call in the safety car…”

    Clearly -to me- the clerk has nothing to decide as this is the last lap and the safety car must go back to the pits.
    So the 40.11 should not apply to the last lap, as there is no decision to be made by the clerk, and instead of waving green they should keep waving the yellows.

    That will remove any possible confusion…. imho

    1. Phil C says:

      Australia 2009 was correct, as in 2009 there was no Safety Car line – the line referred to at that time would have been the start / finish line.

      40.11 states the procedure to be followed when the safety car is coming into the pits. It cannot be ignored just because it is the last lap

      But there should be a separate rule for the last lap.

      1. Gary says:

        Another long rant on why 40.13 was NOT the right rule to quote … (apologies to those here who already believe this, for taking up so much space here, but I needed to get it all out! I’ll stop after this ;-)

        The safety car is used “only if competitors or officials are in immediate physical danger” (40.3)

        Therefore, once there is no immediate physical danger, there is no reason for the safety car.

        40.11 is *optional* – it is what will happen (ONLY) when the CoC decides it is safe to call in the SC, so that racing can resume … (because the immediate physical danger has passed)

        “overtaking is forbidden until the cars reach the first safety car line after the safety car has returned to the pits” (40.7)

        Nothing about last laps or anything else. It is the procedure that was followed several times in the race. It the decision that sets in motion the return to racing.

        As the safety car enter the pits AS PART OF 40.11, the SC boards are taken down, the lights / flags go from yellow to green, and racing starts after the cars cross the SC line

        UNLESS 40.11 is in effect, then the yellow lights/flags & SC boards would have had to remain in place – and 40.4 backs this up by saying
        “40.4 When the order is given to deploy the safety car the message “SAFETY CAR DEPLOYED” will be displayed on the timing monitors and all marshal’s posts will display waved yellow flags and “SC” boards for the duration of the intervention.”

        But – the SAFETY CAR DEPLOYED message was removed, and SAFETY CAR IN THIS LAP displayed instead. This is 40.11 starting – the CoC had *decided* to bring in the Safety Car during the last lap. And, its ‘deployment’ ends at the SC line once it is recalled by the CoC.

        The course was stated to be clear – so there was no more danger present, so in fact it was no longer *allowable* (as per 40.3) to have the SC deployed. The Coc HAD TO (by rule 40.3) stop the deployment of the SC, regardless of whether it was the last lap or not.

        As the cars reached the SC line after the SC pulled into the pits, the flags/lights changed to green and the SC boards were removed. (The yellow was removed from the lap numbers at the top of the TV screen too). This is ONLY done if rule 40.11 is in effect, and the SC deployment has ended.

        And, of course, no mention of any reason for these rules to be overruled if all of this was happening on the last lap …

        So, rule 40.13 … it is for when the safety car is *still* deployed at the end of the race – and ONLY for then. So was the SC deployed at the END of the race? If it wasn’t, 40.13 is moot. And the end is the end, right? the chequered flag at the finish line, right? When the fat lady sings … Not, the start of the last lap, not the middle of the last lap, not a couple of corners from the end of the last lap …

        The ‘end’ was the cars crossing the finish line after the specified number of laps had been completed. So, was there any danger still then? No, the track was clear, so there was no allowable reason for the SC deployment. Had the CoC declared the end of the SC period? Yes, in exactly the same way as he had done it 3 times before …

        40.13 is and always has been a thing to do only IF the race is to end under SC conditions, just as it did last year … and as per the regs with yellows and SC boards.

        DO NOT LET THE TAIL WAG THE DOG!!!! Yes, the SC was coming in on the last lap … but HOW can that ***cause*** 40.13 to come into effect? 40.13 is an ‘if … then’. Just because the ‘then’ happened, that does NOT mean the ‘if’ had to be true too!

        If ‘If I get stabbed through the heart, then I will die’ is true, does that therefore mean that if I die, I must have been stabbed through the heart?

    2. Frans says:

      You’re not revealing the full 40.11 article. Article 40.11 is about when they think the course is safe, then they call in the SC. If the course is clear, of course they will wave the green flags.

      Imagine this situation… if the course isn’t clear at that time (Monaco GP), can they use article 40.11 to pull the SC? of course not! that’s when they applied article 40.13, because otherwise the SC car would still be going on and on and on… And this applied to last year also. Imagine there is a debris at the finish line, do you think that when SC entering the pit because of article 40.14 they would waved the green flags or the yellow flags? simple as that.

      You are thinking that 40.13 regulates the use of SC on the last lap, which I think is wrong! They only use article 40.13 (40.14 last year) when the SC going to cross the finish line at the last lap. They use it so that the SC can still enter the pit lane while the racing cars finished their race AS IF they are under the SC. Basically track clear comes first before the race ends. At the last lap, if it’s clear, they use article 40.11.. if it isn’t clear, they use article 40.13. Again, it’s very simple.

      I’m a bit baffled to anyone that thinks that article 40.13 is clear AND it’s the one that they used in Monaco. Yes, to me article 40.13 is clear, very clear… and they didn’t use it in Monaco. They definitely call the SC under 40.11.. if they denying that (instead insisted that they called the SC under 40.13), then they used the wrong procedure.

      1. Ago says:

        excuse me but the SC was deployed from lap 75 to 78. Whether it was relevant or not (Gary) is not the point: It was on the track that is a fact that cannot be changed.
        78 is the last lap of the race so the SC had to pit. Clear track, or not it was the end of the race. the SC never ever cross the finish line on the last lap. 40.13 tells what are the rules in THIS case(Phil C. 40.13 is for the last lap only) This point for me is not open to discussion, it’a fact and it is not new to 2010. There was a SC on the track at the befinning of 78 so the whole lap was with SC deployed.

        The only thing that can be discussed is the flags. Should they be yellow as some think or green as we’ve seen them?
        I am saying that I can understand why they were green (40.11) but like most I think they should have been yellow because (for me) 40.11 cannot be ever applied on the last lap because it is the last lap and the clerl doesn’t have to decide of anything… this is the end of the race.
        Frans “You are thinking that 40.13 regulates the use of SC on the last lap, which I think is wrong! ” well if not I just wonder what it is made for ;)

      2. Frans says:

        Yes, I agree that 40.13 is for the last lap only. But you can use 40.11 on any lap. By the wording of 40.13, it doesn’t say anywhere that they must use it at the last lap. It’s the only one to use IF the race ends with SC on the last lap.

        FWIW, 40.13 for me is made for when the track is still unsafe but it just happen that they are going to cross the finish line. If not for 40.13, the SC would still be running as per article 40.4. But because they want a nice ending on the finish line, they need to remove the SC car on this specific situation. That is when they should use 40.13. If the track is clear and the SC can safely enter the pit, then they shouldn’t use 40.13 and instead use 40.11. This is especially important this year because there is a gap between SC line and finish line where you can race.

        And why I always stress the race end part? It is because SC in the last lap isn’t the same as the end of the race. They will give end-of-race signal when the leading car has cross the finish line (article 43.1). For 40.13 they need to end the race with SC. Yes, they will force the SC to go into the pit lane, but that doesn’t mean they can just pull away the yellow flags and the SC sign. We are talking 2010 here and not 2009.

        If you ask your lawyer then to interpret the rule, I think he will say that Brawn interpretation is the correct one. I don’t think we should change the rules, because for me the rules as far as article 40.13 concerned, is just fine. It might not be the original use of the rule, but as far as the spirit of the rule, then I don’t think there is anything wrong with Brawn interpretation (unlike like the double diffuser one which is clearly broke the spirit of the regulation).
        At Monaco, they probably intended to use 40.13, but that doesn’t change the fact that 40.11 would be a viable option under this new condition and can be used even on the last lap.
        Now, they could just make the rules that you can’t overtake until the race ends if SC is deployed on the last lap.. and probably they can add that the flag will stay yellow when SC enter the pit lane. But that would be like a false alarm and would rob the potential race that the driver can have at the very last corner + the potential excitement it can bring to the viewers.

        Last year is last year. This is 2010. This year SC deployed doesn’t mean that the whole lap is yellow flagged, so why are 40.13 need to be forced on the last lap? Is it correct to use 40.13 when the track is clear on the last lap? Are they even obliged to use 40.13 on the last lap based on the current wording of 40.13?

  42. zxzxz says:

    an in-race drive through penalty can’t be appealed for obvious reasons. but why is a post-race drive through penalty not challengable? seems like another moronic rule nuance. if you can add 20 seconds to a finish time you can remove 20 seconds from a finish time on successful appeal.

    1. Phil C says:

      Because it is officially a drive through penalty in all but the way it is applied. Otherwise drivers would do all sorts of things during the final lap, knowing they could appeal it should they be caught.

  43. AlexBookoo says:

    This is awful. Why has Schumacher been punished when it was race control’s error? Schumacher saw green flags and raced. The last thing the FIA should want is for drivers to second guess flags based on their own interpretation of the rules.

  44. CJ the 2cnd, probably... says:

    Its a shame that the MS overtaking issue and the RB steering wheel issue have become combined on this thread, because the latter matters.
    I like Rubens. But, afer the Massa/spring incident, it would be reasonable to expect him to be particularly sensitive to to the notion of weighty objects bouncing around the track. I have read the defences of his behaviour but surely of all the occupations out there F1 drivers should be able to stay cool in high risk situations, its what they do isn’t it? And it doesn’t really wash to suggest that he didn’t expect it to bounce, it was his responsibility to keep it in control. If his petulant actions had lead to injury of another driver, marshal or spectator I doubt we would be seeing too much defence of Rubens’ actions. And I like Rubens.
    As to MS, well he was just being MS and the stewards were being stewards…same old same old……

  45. Lalit says:

    Hi James,

    In the past few days since Monaco, I had gotten a feeling that with flags being inconsistent with the Track status (Green vs Yellow), I would have thought the case was pretty strong for Michael, to atleast be re-instated wth his 7th place.

    However, from your post, espcecially the following line confuses me –

    >>Mercedes have dropped the appeal because it would not change the outcome …

    Does this mean ALL time penalties after race are set in concrete and can never be reversed, no matter what?

    Also on another note, I lost a lot of respect for Ferrari. They seem to be changing colors (Stefano even went so far as to accuse Michael of dngerous driving, while I never heard a single word from Ross about Ferrari, Alonso, or anyone else involved – very dignified).

    1. Phil C says:

      Yes

      We know that time penalties cannot be reversed from the ruling at the appeal of Lewis Hamilton’s penalty after Belgium 2008

  46. Hutch says:

    Does the FIA have to power to declare the race ended one lap earlier, as they do when there’s a red flag situation? It would have been a much fairer decision considering it was a Race Control mistake.

  47. For Sure says:

    I am very disappointed about this.
    At the end of the day F1 exist for the fans and FIA ignores us all the time. I pay to watch F1 and I want to see some RACING. Schumacher Vs Alonso : wheel to wheel at the very last corner, how entertaining was that?

    I saw green flags (not yellow), safety car came in. I saw one driver overtook the other. The next day I read on the newspaper, Schumacher was penalized. I mean WTF kind of sport is this?

    I don’t give a flying F-duct about article 4xxx. Why can’t they make it SIMPLE?
    If they don’t want overtaking then show YELLOW flags, we know that means no overtaking or finish the race with safety car. We shouldn’t be looking up the rules on the internet. They should make it simple, clear and show it on tv.

    This is the perspective from audience.I saw every driver putting the right foot down, I saw GREEN flags instead of Yellow, I saw some overtaking. I thought it was racing.
    You can’t tell me it’s not and if you do you are just embarrassing yourself.

    What if Mark Weber had a problem with gearbox or something and couldn’t push the car? Are they going to penalize 23 drivers for overtaking him?

    Oh and the penalty, in football, the players get yellow card for deliberate actions. In f1, drivers get penalized for making split second decisions.
    What’s wrong with re-swapping between Alonso and Schumacher?
    Why 20 seconds?
    And it took them THREE long hours, pathetic. In football, it happens in run-time.

    FIA is making F1 look stupid.

  48. Kuroneko says:

    Re: Rubens and the steering wheel.

    A quick search on YouTube for “Barrichello crash” reveals a shockingly large number of videos. In fact, I’m pretty sure he’s had more crashes than any other active GP driver.

    Given this “vast experience” that he has (as the commentators often tell us, haha), he should know better what to do with his steering wheel.

    1. Phil C says:

      He has raced in almost 300 grand prix over 18 years though!

  49. paxdog57 says:

    James:
    With all the speculation where drivers are going (i.e. Kubica and Vettel possibly going to Ferrari) why aren’t teams concentrating on the designers/engineers?

    Adrian Newey has designed another world beating car. Can you comment on why designers/engineers
    are not being talked about like the drivers? Surely getting Newey would be the best option for McLaren or Ferrari?

  50. Tyler says:

    James, great point on Reubens steering wheel display. That was surely a graver situation than schumacher’s legal or not pass. Just think if that wheel would have bounced and caught Chandhok square in the visor… but the stewards say nothing…

    1. Phil C says:

      While I do believe Barrichello was stupid for throwing his steering wheel out, I doubt it would have caused the same damage as his suspension spring did with Massa.

      A car in the middle of the track, and yellow flags, meant, as can be seen, Chandhok was driving at a substantially reduced speed

  51. Though Mercedes + Schumi lost points, they have won the hearts of F1 fans. Mercedes is trying to have a clean image by not appealing which should be commended. And coming down to the red team I don’t know what to say. They are spitting at the man who brought them glory. Schumi made an excellent decision by joining Mercedes. It helped him in knowing the true colors of the red team and now he may fine tune his image as well.

    1. AGBNYC says:

      People are blowing things way out of proportion… Everyone knows that Schumi was a daily fixture at the Ferrari dining facility through winter testing and when he does hang up is overalls, he will be putting a red cap back on as he lives out his days.

      When everyone but Mercedes knows the rules and it’s known that Mclaren and Ferrari told their drivers there could be no passing – what Schumi did WAS dangerous… he made an aggressive (great for TV) move on an unsuspecting car (acting withing the rules) AT the place of the SC incident! What if Alonso went into the wall? What would be the remedy then? Again – Alonso and whomever else broke NO rules!

      1. Tom says:

        What alonso did on Lap 2 was more dangerous, to over take under SC board and yellow flags, YES he broke the rules, if he was penalised for this he have been no where near the front of the grid on the final lap. I think the Sewards were guided by the former driver DH in this incident and Barrichello incident for leniency but not when MS was involved.

  52. Loti says:

    It’s a pity race control are not man enough to admit that they got it wrong, well, either Melbourne ’09 or Monaco ’10 was wrong.
    If you can’t overtake you hang out a yellow flag end of argument but then Max used to love ambiguous rules didn’t he?
    As for Damon’s ‘hate mail’ if he chose to accept the job he should be aware that not everyone agrees with him. It appeared that he was having a very jolly weekend.
    In the Daily Telegraph yesterday DC wrote [and taking in to account he was partying with Red Bull] that the BBC had told him the viewing figures had gone up by 1.5 million and he though that it was because of Mark and Sebastian. Not being rude or anything but the [infamous] ‘man down the pub’ would’t know Mark and Sebastian if they walked in, unless of course they were wearing crash helmets and overalls. The viewing figures are for Michael and to some extent Jenson and Lewis….. sorry DC but that’s that.

    1. Phil C says:

      I think Damon was aware that not everyone would agree with him. Does that therefore mean he should be subject to hateful and stinging emails? Of course not!

  53. Christopher Snowdon says:

    James why does formula one lack common sense? The sport employs some of the worlds most intelligent people. It’s clear Michael breached a grey area rule in formula one, it’s clear it was a great move that I think every formula one fan appreciated, why not just say “yeah nice one Michael, but you can’t do that”. It was for sixth place, not for a podium, you’d think all the drivers would just have a laugh over this and the stewards QUIETLY reverse the positions.

    My old man always say’s “why do they call it common sense when the one thing you can say about it is it’s far from common” Maybe it’s time to ask the drivers what they think should happen if something controversial happens in their race?

    And at the end of all this – Well Done Mark Webber, after all it was his weekend!!

  54. MacG says:

    Schumi and Merc fell foul of a badly written rule and unclear instructions from race control.

    Common sense should prevail and Schumi should be given back 7th place.

    Is it so hard for F1 to do the right thing? Even just once?

  55. Rob Jackson says:

    Good point on Rubens’ steering wheel James. A pointless and petulant display from a good and experienced driver – he should have been punished.

    As to the Schumacher incident, perhaps ex-drivers should be involved in helping to draft the regulations? In this instance it seems that the rule in question makes little sense on the track, hence the confusion.

    1. Sasquatsch says:

      Because of all the turmoil after the Schumacher incident, this was overlooked by the stewards.

      As was Trulli’s overtaking manoeuvre, which caused Chandhok to retire. This should also have been punished because of ‘causing an avoidable collision’.

  56. yehuda says:

    It looks that powerful people attract antagonizm, mostly from people that dont have it, but have the pen and the keyboard. Great sportsmen don’t achieve success by being “nice” but by being ruthless on the track. It doesn’t look good, honest, but powerful people can handle it. I’m sure Micael, and his likes, will.
    yehuda

  57. Cheese Dog says:

    James,

    I’m surprised by all the talk of the Mercedes appeal (or lack of it)

    My understanding is that Schumacher’s penalty was a drive through, so doesn’t article 152 of the sporting code make the appeal inadmissible?

    “Penalties of driving through or stopping in pit lanes together
    with certain penalties specified in FIA Championship regulations
    where this is expressly stated, are not susceptible to appeal.”

    In the same way the 2008 “battle of the bus stop” couldn’t be appealed?

  58. Naren says:

    Hereafter MSc should call race control or the stewards for Overtaking any car after an yellow & when the green flags are being waved.

    We are looking for overtaking in F1, but unfortunately when this happens rule are quoted & overtaking is discouraged. F1 is nowadays boring.

  59. Jon says:

    Mercedes are trying to save face I guess, rather then dragging it out and having it go on and on.

    Everyone got so emotional about the Schum-Alonso thing, maybe this can show fans that most of the time, they know nothing. This rule was something we weren’t aware of. The stewards got it right. The penalty is harsh though, and race control/rules makers dropped the ball a bit. What Schumacher did, wasn’t dirty at all, both Merc drivers were told by the team to try to overtake.

    It’s funny though, like someone said above.. the Merc press release says that most of the top 10 thought overtaking was allowed. But according to other sources like Andrew Benson, all the other teams thought straight away that Merc were in the wrong and that overtaking wasn’t allowed. Ross Brawn can’t win them all, I guess.

    I agree James, it’s an unfortunate situation for both Schumacher and Hill. This just goes to show again, how much F1 is a team sport. Drivers, engineers, mechanics and co are all in the same boat. Schumacher was let down by his team, the same way Button was. The drivers get most of the glory, but it really is a team sport.

    1. Lalit says:

      I think you do not know the basic law of driving, whether or road or race track.

      The most important law is that you throw the book away and follow instructions that the stewards, marshals, traffic police, or whoever is controlling the piece of road, give you.

      In this instance green flags were shown.

      End of the story.

      Signs and instructions shown by supposedly repsonsible people in charge of governing traffic, take precedence over countless pages in the rule book.

      So now way was Mercedes or Schumi wrong.

  60. Wingers says:

    The only Crime of Barrichello throwing his steering wheel out, was the timing of that particular replay being showed to us.

    As the Safety Car was diving into the pits for Racing to start, the Replay was shown!

    I don’t want to harp on about the state of the show, but how can the race director do that firstly, its amateurish (timing is everything), and where were the in car replays from Hulkenberg (1st corner wing accident, and tunnel, and more cars around him, from behind), Barrichello, same thing. Alonso on Saturday, we never actually saw a single shot of what happened to cause the accident…

    When is F1 gonna watch one race of a rival championship and see just how informative they are by comparison?? Nascar makes even the most boring of races interesting!

    I hope they aren’t purposely saving in car coverage for the end of year DVD, cause those DVD’s always do seem to have plenty more angles than the races ever do. Same goes for the F1 Video on the Website…

    I’m sure I speak for everyone, we want the action live.. not weeks or months later.

  61. k9major says:

    I think that the it’s not the wording of the rules that is necessarily at fault, but the way that the purpose of the rule is often left unsaid. If the safety car rule in this case had been written with the caveat, ” The intention of this rule is to ensure that the race finishes with a TV friendly procession across the line by the cars that have competed in the race”, there would be less room for interpretation. I’m being slightly facetious of course, and I know it will never happen, but it’s got to be easier to reach decisions regarding the spirit of a rule, if we all knew what it was written to achieve.

    1. Gary says:

      And, to take it a bit further, if the track was in fact clear with no need for reduced speeds etc., shouldn’t they have been *happier* if there was actual racing too, for the cameras?

      Do they *know* what they want?

  62. Still says:

    Under the F1 laws, a driver needs to know in wich lap he is? (ofcourse everyone know)
    If don’t, Schumacher never should have had a penalty.
    It’s another point of vue.
    (sorry for my english)

  63. Frankie Allen says:

    Well done James, I am sure there are other sites which has outed the FIA, and I am sure someone will tell me about them, but yours is the only site I know of.

    What I cannot understand is that everyone and his dog knows race control made an error in allowing green flags, but why cannot the error be acknowledged? I thought the Emperor’s new clothes had long gone with Mosley’s personal possessions, yet we still have this farce with everyone tripping over themselves to avoid mentioning race control screwed up.

    With the advent of the new rules you can have two possible scenario’s for when the SC comes in during the last lap. One of these scenario’s is for the race to be abandoned under the SC or the 2 hour limit to be up ending the race. Under those conditions 40.13 would apply with the race finishing under SC conditions and yellow flags.

    In the coincidental example of this case, the track was cleared on the last lap and the SC brought in. Previously you had no problems because the SC and Start/Finish line were one. Now you have a section of the track between the SC line and Start/Finish line which is live for racing. The only differential for whether that section is live for racing has to be the SC instructions and the flags.

    The FIA made an error and it seems strange they should insist upon penalising Schumacher. Rule 40.13 covers several situations, combined with track indicators and flags to give the exact definition. This would have no chance of a penalty in a normal court of law.

  64. Colin Wheeler says:

    I don’t understand why you say that the Stewards hands were tied because of the wording of the rule.

    For 40.13 to apply the SC has to be deployed at the end of the race, this means that rule 40.4 should also be used. RC control instead (perhaps in error) used rule 40.11 and removed the SC before the end of the race. Therefore 40.13 cannot be invoked. None of the rules say that the race ends as soon as the final lap starts if the SC is out.

    If the SC line had not been moved then none of this would have mattered, but it has been moved and the stewards in my opinion have incorrectly applied the rules and issued an unfair penalty.

  65. Javier says:

    Hi James, great blog.

    I am an Alonso supporter, but I think that Mercedes was right. FIA messed up with the SC messages sent to the teams.

    It would have been easy to advice teams, whether sending a message “Race to be finished under SC status” instead of “TRACK CLEAR”, or keeping the SC pannels and yellow flags.

    I think that the rule 40.13 was poorly written. It does not say that as soon as the SC is deployed in the last lap, the race would finish under SC. In sports, you must advice what is forbidden, and FIA, or race control did not advice the teams.

    Schumacher demoted to 12th is “fair” because the sporting regulations do not consider any other penalty. But is is incredibly harsh on Schumacher. We want pilots to race and look what happened.

  66. Sam says:

    Hi james can I ask something. If Schumacher threw the steering wheel and
    rubens overtook Alonso, who do you think would get penalized ? When the judge is Damon I bet it has to be Schumacher

    1. TMAX says:

      If Schumacher threw the Steering wheel in Monaco, the whole media would talk only about that. Saying how frustrated Michael is. He does’nt care for safety. He was deliberately throwing the wheel so that Weber loses his position and what not. Media would have had a field day on this. Now since Brawn and Mercedes came up and said they asked Schumi to race to Line the Schumi Conspiracy theorists are on Vacation.

      I was wondering that Barichello’s incident happened 5 laps before the Schumi Incident. The Stewards claimed they were busy. What were they busy between Barichello Incident and Schumi incident for 5 laps almost more than 10 minutes of time that they did not even care to investigate ?

      Had Michael thrown the Steering wheel and Barichello passed Alonso the Stewards would have been too busy that they will not have time to Investigate Barichello’s Pass Quite simple. :)

      1. For Sure says:

        I disagree. Schumacher will be penalized if he threw his steering wheel regardless whatever Rubens did. Because Damon Hill pays attention to Schumi more than anything. He may be fair in making decisions based on the rules but he would not be able to sleep if he didn’t raise a point when his old rival did it.

      2. TMAX says:

        Actually “For Sure” I meant what ever you are saying. If Schumi had thrown the steering wheel he would have been penalized.

  67. Zoku says:

    Race-Control and Stewards followed the unsuitable procedure to accomplish their motivation.

    I find it ironic Damon hill now coming with cover-up “ex-drivers roles should be limited as adviser to stewards .. specially to present drivers perspective” LOL …he’s first judgment is contradictory.

  68. TMAX says:

    FIA and Consistency are OXYMORON. However hard they try to get this corrected they move in the opposite direction.

    As far as Barrichello was concerned everybody were ready to accept his explanation on Twitter. As for Schumacher/Mercedes none wanted to listen to his or Mercedes GP’s info. I don’t blame Hill he was just a scape goat. But the FIA itself is doesn’t see to be just. An excuse that we were too busy with something else doesn’t seem nice. Schumacher incident happened 5 laps after Barichello’s accident. What were they doing then ?

    Barrichello instead of throwing it could have just kept it on the chasis or with himself or something. So far I have seen so many incidents. This is the only case where I have seen someone throwing it. Ofcourse i have seen people throw out of Frustration. We have seen what a small spring can do to Massa last year. This is def not the right approach from a veteran racer.

  69. Michael SW20 says:

    At least one thing that we’ve glimpsed is that:

    1) with MSC complaining about his ‘team-mate’ holding him up in qualifying AND
    2) the opportunistic overtake on Alonso

    MSC is back and showing off those killer teeth!

    1. Feb says:

      also:

      3) the punishment

      Quoting James: “So it seems rather odd that Schumacher ends up demoted to 12th for this set of circumstances, while Hamilton and Vettel got only a warning for sparring in the pit lane at 100km/h.

      And what of Rubens Barrichello, who threw his steering wheel into the path of another car as he leapt from his crashed Williams? This seems not to have attracted any ire from the stewards.”

      rules are rules, but they should be for everyone..

  70. Cheeky Monkey says:

    What bothers me is if the Mercedes interpretation of the rules prevailed, then 15 or maybe 20 F1 cars racing from a ‘nose to tail’ start over just a few hundred yards to the chequered flag is a recipe for chaos. With just a short blast from start to finish it would invite all sorts of jockeying for position on the run up to the ‘safety car’ line, with driver’s trying to keep on eye on both the guys in front and behind. To expect them all to do that without mishap is optimism of the highest order. And all being so close together, one ‘coming together’ would have a huge knock-on effect. It’s not like the start as cars would be even closer together and with just one opportunity to pass, inviting all sorts of desperate moves. There wouldn’t be nearly another 60 to 70 laps to recover a position lost. No, whilst Schumacher’s move was brilliant, it can’t be allowed as it invites all manner of crazy antics if a another race were to finish behind the safety car.

    1. The Parsnip says:

      Well they managed to survive every other restart after the safety car. What you refer to is called racing. Most of us want to see more of it.

      1. Cheeky Monkey says:

        But its not like any other restart behind the safety car, that’s the whole point. It’s a last desperate dash to the line, not into the first corner. That’s my point – it is a different situation. Of course we all want more racing, but a “300 yard Grand Prix” is asking for trouble.

  71. Mad Max says:

    A decision by race control to pull the safety car on the last lap of a race, with all racecars lining up behind it, for them to race for 1st place between the SC line to the finish line could practically be summed up as dangerous
    In my opinion, that is why (almost) every team instructed “no overtaking” between the SC line & the S/F line.

    I’ll go back one more time to : “If the race ends while the safety car is deployed”

    SC “flag rule” :

    “40.4 When the order is given to deploy the safety car the message “SAFETY CAR DEPLOYED” will be displayed on the timing monitors and all marshal’s posts will display waved yellow flags and “SC” boards for the duration of the intervention.”

    So one could argue that until the 1st car crosses the S/F line that is, the race’s end according to the rules, if the SC is “technically ” deployed, yellow flags should be waved…

    But here’s the problem :
    “40.11 When the clerk of the course decides it is safe to call in the safety car the message “SAFETY CAR IN THIS LAP” will be displayed on the timing monitors and the car’s orange lights will be extinguished This will be the signal to the teams and drivers that it will be entering the pit lane at the end of that lap.
    At this point the first car in line behind the safety car may dictate the pace and, if necessary, fall more than ten car lengths behind it.
    In order to avoid the likelihood of accidents before the safety car returns to the pits, from the point at which the lights on the car are turned out drivers must proceed at a pace which involves no erratic acceleration or braking nor any other manoeuvre which is likely to endanger other drivers or impede the restart.
    As the safety car is approaching the pit entry the yellow flags and SC boards will be withdrawn and replaced by waved green flags with green lights at the Line. These will be displayed until the last car crosses the Line.

    Which is what happened.

    What didn’t happen is this though, again : “In order to avoid the likelihood of accidents before the safety car returns to the pits, from the point at which the lights on the car are turned out drivers must proceed at a pace which involves no erratic acceleration or braking nor any other manoeuvre which is likely to endanger other drivers or impede the restart.”

    Which is basically what RB told MS to do…

    The FIA definitely needs to clear up the “race ends under SC” procedures, but IMO, and which ever way you look at it, that manoeuvre was not the most brilliant stint to pull, by both RB & MS.

    Maybe that is why they decided to drop the appeal. Oh! yes, that and all the bad publicity they once again bring around F1.

  72. Naren says:

    James,

    Please tell me who is responsible for the ALL CLEAR sign & waving & displaying of Green Falgs & Lights on Track. If it is wrong what punishment is given to them.

    Fine the rule 40.13 was applied, what does the 40.13 rule say that regarding the flags & lights on track. If thers is no mention of the same in the rule what sort of flags & lights are to be displayed.

    If it was wrong to have shown the Green Falgs & Lights why only Msc was punished & the race control not given any punishment.

    Also after so many days have lapsed why no action against Rubens. Is it safe to throw the steering wheel on the Track. If an accident would had happened like that of Massa who would have been responsible.

    Please reply.

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