Why Mercedes walked away from Schumacher appeal
Mercedes
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Schumacher: Appeal withdrawn (Darren Heath)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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1

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.

2

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.

3
Cheeky Monkey

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.

4

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.

5
Cheeky Monkey

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.

6

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!

7

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..

8

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.

9

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.

10

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

11

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. 🙂

12

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.

13

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

14

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.

15
Colin Wheeler

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.

16

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.

17

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)

18

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.

19

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?

20

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.

21

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.

22

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.

23

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.

24

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?

25

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

26

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.

27

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’.

28

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?

29
Christopher Snowdon

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!!

30

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.

31

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!

32

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.

33

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!

34

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.

35

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…

36

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

37

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?

38

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.

39

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

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