The stewards at the Spanish Grand Prix made a decision this morning that every F1 driver will have to take notice of.
In the GP2 sprint race they handed down a drive-through penalty to race leader Romain Grosjean for illegal defensive driving.
It’s a topic that’s caused controversy in Formula 1 before and I’d be surprised if it didn’t come up again in the future.
When a driver is defending his position from an attacking driver the rules allow them to move once from the racing line to defend the position, and move back towards the racing line approaching the next corner.
But exactly how far they may move back to the line is not clearly defined. Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton and other drivers have been accused of pushing the regulations too far – but no-one in F1 has been punished for breaking the rules in this way.
Today Grosjean took the move to an extreme I’ve never seen on a race track before in F1 or any other series. Approaching turn one he moved fully across to the right to defend his position, then fully across to the left to take the racing line, pushing his rival Kamui Kobayashi onto the kerbs in doing so. (Read the GP2 Spain sprint race report at Maximum Motorsport for more on the race and the incident).
Had Kobayashi not taken evasive action there would have been a gigantic crash. Grosjean kept the lead with his block but the stewards gave him a drive-through penalty that cost him victory.