Beware chicanery at Monza

Christian Klien. Red Bull-Cosworth, Monza, 2005Amid the drama of the Hungarian and Turkish Grand Prix one curious development didn’t get quite as much attention as it deserved. And it could have a decisive role to play in this weekend’s Grand Prix.

On lap 64 of the Hungarian Grand Prix Pedro de la Rosa slingshot out of turn six and dived down the inside of Michael Schumacher at the right/left chicane. De la Rosa was fully alongside and Schumacher shot straight on, cutting the chicane and resuming ahead of de la Rosa.

The watching world waited for the inevitable – Schumacher would have to cede the position to de la Rosa having kept it by going off the circuit. Or would he? Schumacher made no attempt to do so, chopping across de la Rosa at turn nine and continuing.

De la Rosa passed Schumacher using the same move on the following lap. But according to Autosport, the FIA felt Schumacher had done nothing wrong:

The answer came back from the FIA’s representative that what Michael had done was acceptable. That if he’d had to take up the escape road to avoid a collision with the guy coming up his inside, it was okay not to surrender the position when he rejoined.

It seems a perverse change to a rule that was perfectly just and fair to begin with.

Before, whenever a driver had cut a chicane to keep a rival behind you knew instantly that they would have to cede the position. Now a straightforward system has been blurred and we are likely to see much of the stewards having to arbitrate on battles going on on the track.

As a result, drivers are far less likely to cede a position instantly when they know they have committed a ‘foul’. After all, why take a punishment you may very well not be entitled to?

This was precisely the subject that dominated the drivers’ briefing before the Turkish Grand Prix last time out.

Of all the race weekends to be going into with this sort of debate, you couldn’t pick a worse one than Monza. Half the corners on the track are chicanes. Let’s hope the championship battle isn’t compromised by this questionable new ruling.

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