There has been a lot of chat online and in the comments section of this site these past few days about Felipe Massa’s start in Spa.
The Brazilian parked his car ahead of the grid slot he was supposed to take up and thus gained a small advantage from it, certainly over a metre. The FIA’s detection devices didn’t pick it up and he ran his race as normal. Having started sixth on the grid, he was fifth on the first lap, one of the drivers able to take advantage of Mark Webber’s poor start.
What is supposed to happen is that when the car draws up to its grid slot and a tiny transponder in the floor, which is 800mm behind the front wheel centre line, sends a signal to a sensor in the tarmac. If the car isn’t within the tolerated range then the signal doesn’t work and the car is adjudged to have jumped the start, for which a drive through penalty is applied.
This isn’t something you should be able to get around, but clearly Massa’s car managed to do so, whether intentionally or unintentionally.
The FIA said today that it would hold an investigation into how it happened, “The problem was not brought to the attention of the FIA race director by either the marshals nor the automatic jump start system in time to be able to apply the appropriate penalty for jump starts,” said an FIA spokeswoman.
“As no further information or complaints were received before the publication of the official result on Sunday night, the classification of the Belgian Grand Prix will now remain unchanged.
“The FIA are investigating the causes of the apparent failures in communication with race control in order to ensure a repetition is not possible.”
What is interesting about this story is that it is another example of a piece of content produced by a fan and uploaded to You Tube, which has become a talking point for the mainstream F1 media and has brought about direct action from the sport.
Notwithstanding the views of the commercial rights holder, FOM, on user generated content from F1 races on You Tube, this week has seen two such incidents, with the Sebastian Vettel wing flex discussion also being inspired by fans.
Previously we have seen fan generated video feature in changes to safety car rules, such as after Fuji 2007.
This is as it should be and it is good to see that fans are able to have influence and that the sport is paying attention.