Bad rule calls screwed Davidson’s race

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa, Monte-Carlo, 2007Anthony Davidson made two criticisms of the race stewards at the Monaco Grand Prix. Ordinarily you’d dismiss this as the whingeing of a driver who didn’t get the job done.

But he’s actually right on both counts. The stewards failed to discipline two drivers who cut part of the course. And it strongly looks as though Davidson’s drive through penalty for allegedly impeding Felipe Massa was not deserved.

Following the Monaco Grand Prix Davidson had this to say about the start of the race:

A lot of people cheated at the start by driving through the pit exit [i.e. cutting Ste Devote], and I didn’t. I ended up damaging my nose on Heikki Kovalainen doing it the right way. It was neither of our faults, it just bottlenecked up.

Sure enough, the race video clearly shows Takuma Sato and both Spyker drivers cutting Sainte Devote at the start. Both Sato and Christijan Albers gained position over Davidson by doing this.

Clearly under the rules both should have been ordered to relinquish the positions. Just because it happened on the first lap and just because the battle was at the back, not the front, of the grid, doesn’t mean anyone should get let off.

Regarding his penalty Davidson said:

I think I’m an intelligent racer, and I know when I’m holding someone up. And I clearly wasn’t, because when he overtook me I caught him back on. So the guy was not faster than me, and I wasn’t holding him up.

It might sound a little far-fetched for Davidson to argue that his Super Aguri, which he qualified 17th, was at that stage as quick as Massa’s Ferrari, which started third.

But Massa had recently made a pit stop and changed onto the less durable ‘super soft’ rubber, and his lap times had dropped off. Massa was also carrying more fuel than Davidson, who had yet to stop. Their lap times leading up to Davidson’s penalty were:

Lap Anthony Davidson Felipe Massa
32 1:17.942 1:17.519
33 1:17.865 1:17.941
34 1:17.806 1:17.636
35 1:19.864* 1:17.617

*Davidson let Massa past on lap 35.

Nor is it the case that Massa’s laptimes dropped before this interval – his times were consistent.

It’s difficult to have much faith in the governance of F1 when the racing rules are not being consistently applied from the front to the back of the field.

Making a judgement on the spur of the moment about when a backmarker has held up another driver is difficult. But ignoring the fact that two drivers cut the course at the start of the race when they had been warned not to is really sloppy.

Related links

Tags: / / / /