Important rules clarification in Spain

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.

Read more about Romain Grosjean.

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14 comments on Important rules clarification in Spain

  1. Chas said on 27th April 2008, 11:17

    in my opinion Grosjean fully deserved the drive through penalty. he messed up trying to be to clever bunching up the traffic with the restart behind the safety car, almost coming undone with his games. agreed there has been some serious defending in F1 so it will be interesting to see how consistent the stewards are at following this through.

  2. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 27th April 2008, 11:20

    Agreed. It was absolutely the right call. I’ll post a video when I can find one.

    What I wouldn’t give to have that much action in this afternoon’s race though!

  3. That does sound like a pretty extreme interpretation of the "one move" rule on Romain’s part. No wonder he got a lecture. It also amply demonstrates why such a rule exists.

  4. ninguen said on 27th April 2008, 11:53

    I saw the race on tv and the commentators didn´t agreed with the penalty,  but i fully agree it. The kerbs isn´t the best place to brake and kobayashi ery well could have crashed whatever he did. He coped very well with the situation and the penalty is very good to remember everybody that there are limits

  5. Robert McKay said on 27th April 2008, 11:58

    Were they French commentators? :-D

    I saw it too: Grosjean deserved what he got. It was even sillier as if he’d let him go I think he would still have had the speed to repass him anyway.

  6. ninguen said on 27th April 2008, 12:27

    it was in spain, but they seemed to be very happy with grosjean winning the race. I saw the two races and undobtedley he seemed the man of the track, in the first he started far and did a lot of undertaking to recover, and in the second he was clearly the fastest

  7. Rohan said on 27th April 2008, 14:59

    Even if it was just "one move", it was still rather dangerous and should be penalised anyway, so there can be no defence of Grosjean in that respect. He does look an awesome driver though and certainly a title contender.

  8. MacademiaNut said on 27th April 2008, 16:34

    Do you know which lap # this happened?Thanks.

  9. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 27th April 2008, 16:50

    About five laps from the end I think.

    Roahn – just one thing, it wasn’t one move, it was two, because he’d already moved to defend.

  10. Rohan said on 27th April 2008, 19:08

    Keith, I realise that, but what I meant to say was that even if that had been his one move, I feel a move like that should be punished anyway because of the danger it put Kobayashi in. Perhaps I’m being a little too safety-conscious, but it just strikes me as an unnecessary risk.

  11. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 27th April 2008, 19:11

    Ah I get you – you’re probably right they came very close to colliding and it would have been enormous if they had. Still no video I’m afraid!

  12. I saw that race and he deserved the drive through but there were two team drivers who knocking bits off each other who deserved to be kicked up the proverbial by their team boss – was it team prost?

  13. Michael Counsell said on 27th April 2008, 23:29

    Same thing happened in World Series by Renault today and a driver got black flagged.

    Witt the controversy in the Le Mans series with Lamy and Rockenfeller and some pretty dumb overtaking manouveres in the F1 race the top racing drivers in the world haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory this weekend.

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