Fine for Ferrari, Massa gets off free, and the FIA gets it wrong on every count

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Felipe Massa escaped punishment for his slighty-too-fast getaway
Felipe Massa escaped punishment for his slighty-too-fast getaway

Felipe Massa has not been punished following his incident in the pits with Adrian Sutil in today’s European Grand Prix. His Ferrari team has been fined ??10,000 (??7,979) for releasing him into the path of Sutil’s car following his second pit stop on lap 37.

It’s a baffling verdict by the FIA and one that will be seen by many as further evidence the sports’ governing body goes out of its way to favour Ferrari.

I’m not convinced by Ferrari’s claim Massa gained no advantage, I think the penalty is totally unsuited to the infraction, and it is inconsistent with past FIA decisions.

Ferrari’s defence

Stewards\' document 41 explained Massa\'s penalty (click to enlarge)
Stewards' document 41 explained Massa's penalty (click to enlarge)
As expected the stewards deemed Ferrari’s release of Massa a violation of article 23.1 (i) of the Sporting Regulations: “It is the responsibility of the competitor to release his car after a pit stop only when it is safe to do so.”

The decision issued by the stewards described the incident as: “Unsafe release from pit stop, although no sporting advantage was obtained.”

The use of the phrase “no sporting advantage was obtained” is surprising. It echoes the defence of the incident given by Ferrari’s Luca Colajanni immediately afterwards, that neither Massa was advantaged nor Sutil disadvantaged by the move.

The defence that ‘no advantage was gained’ is not ordinarily one that has much currency with the FIA. As Autosport’s Thomas O’Keefe, an expert on the FIA’s regulations, wrote in 2002 (sub. req.):

The Court of Appeal tends not to take kindly to defenses of competitors that sound like “we had no performance advantage” or there were “exceptional circumstances” or “it was unintentional,” which the FIA seems to regard as equivalent to The-Dog-Ate-My-Homework.

Apparently on this occasion the stewards of the meeting were quite happy with Ferrari’s claim that no advantage was gained by them – even if it wasn’t true.

I’m not convinced there is absolute proof Massa did not gain an advantage. Afterwards he admitted that he had lost time letting Sutil go past him:

I came very close to [colliding with him], so I needed to back off, and for sure I lost a lot of time.

Despite that he still left the pit lane about as close to the Force India as he could possibly have been.

So did he gain an advantage? Let’s imagine Ferrari had kept him in his box, and waited for Sutil to pass before releasing him. Would have have been able to leave the pits as close to Sutil as he did?

I would say almost certainly not. I think it is more than likely he gained an advantage by being released alongside Sutil, and then merging in behind the Force India, than being released by the team from a standing start as the car went past.

Massa’s defence

Massa’s reaction to the incident was, bizarrely, to blame Sutil:

I think it wasn?t very clever from his side, because even if he got out in front of me he would need to let me by, so it was a little bit of a shame to fight with him in the pit lane.

I stopped behind him on the pit stop and we left together. So when he was passing me by I was leaving the garage, so we were side-by-side. But, I mean, I was the leader and he was a lapped car.

This is irrelevant and rather silly. The rules say one car should not be released until it is safe to do so. It’s not realistic to expect cars that might be a lap down to stop and wait for another car to come out.


The precedent based on how the stewards have handled previous ‘unsafe releases’ is somewhat confusing.

On several occasions F1 cars have left the pit lane two abreast. For example, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel had just such a run-in at Hockenheim:

One might argue that on that occasion the pit lane was wide enough for both cars, whereas at Valencia it clearly was not. Presumably that was the FIA’s opinion as on that occasion neither driver was punished.

During the GP2 feature race at Valencia Karun Chandhok received a drive-through penalty after being released into the path of another competitor. The stewards wasted no time in punishing him.

Was Chandhok’s pit violation that much more unsafe than Massa’s? It’s hard to see how.

Does the punishment fit the crime?

Given the FIA have accepted Massa’s release from the pit lane was unsafe, their choice of punishment is completely wrong.

The purpose of a punishment should be to prevent someone from breaking the rules. When a team has broken the rules and gained an advantage, as Ferrari may have done here, and their punishment is a small (by F1 standards) fine, they are not going to be dissuaded from doing it again.

If Ferrari saved as little as half a second by releasing Massa too soon, they may consider it ??10,000 well spent. Extra performance does not necessarily come so cheaply in the wind tunnel.

Yes, it would have been a shame to see Massa punished for a mistake he was not responsible for (despite his pathetic attempt to balme Sutil) having driven so well. But it is the only worthwhile way of penalising safety violations.

And just to make it worse…

Whether the FIA had punished Massa or not there would have lots of people unhappy with the outcome. During the F1 Fanatic live blog a poll on whether Massa should be punished split the audience 49% to 51%.

But what the FIA unquestionably got wrong was delaying the decision until after the race. Given that they were able to render a verdict on Chandhok’s misdemeanour in the GP2 race so quickly, it appeared very dubious that they deferred a decision on Massa’s penalty.

In the same weekend many were surprised to see Timo Glock go unpunished after delaying two other cars during qualifying. Once again the FIA’s decision-making seems totally arbitrary and inconsistent.

Do you think Massa should have been penalised for the pit lane infraction?

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129 comments on “Fine for Ferrari, Massa gets off free, and the FIA gets it wrong on every count”

  1. i think he should have been, but knew he wasn’t going to be

  2. This is typical Ferrari, getting away with it,

    Had it been Hamilton, he would have been punished.
    Once more we are talking about incidents involving the race, and not about the race.

  3. A rule is a rule even if it is a bad one. No one retired from the race, no contact was made. Cars should be free to go in and out of their pit stall as they please. Any contact usually means the end of the race for both anyway, let them police themselves.

  4. Steve contact between two cars in the pit lane would likely mean more than just drivers being taken out of the race – it could mean mechanics getting injured or worse.

  5. their was a cameraman by Bernt Maylanders car. you know the car that Massa missed by half a metre

  6. I think it will be clear to most people, that Ferrari and Massa got off lightly. It seem to me that they wanted to see what the outcome of the race would be and then apply the punishment if you can call it that. It’s a shame because it’s putting me off F1. Rules are Rules,
    so they should stick to it, no matter the outcome. Lewis would have been punished during the race or the next race.

  7. It’s no good to complain that Lewis wouldn’t have gotten away with it, that’s hypothetical at best and a bit childish.
    I do think Massa was lucky to keep the win, but I would blame Ferrari’s “traffic lights” system for Massa’s quick release. If it had been a human being standing in front of the car with a lollipop, he’d have seen that Sutil was coming and could have waited to release Massa.

  8. I’m surprised that the post-race weight of Massa’s car hasn’t even been a talking point — he started with the brake covers on and finished with them off! I’m sure they’re lightweight but so I’m not surprised it passed inspection, just surprised I’ve heard no one mention it.

  9. Kevin – excellent spot! I guess they set the car’s weight on the presumption that it might lose them as they’re quite vulnerable.

  10. Guys I think you’re right:
    Massa should be punished even if there was no contact between Ferrari & Force India

  11. Does anyone else think that Stoker, Spano & Vidal might get a nice present from Italy for Christmas this year ?

  12. As a Ferrari fan, I’m hardly disappointed with the decision of the stewards but I still think that the penalty was ridiculous. The rules are there for a reason and if there’s not a stringent enough punishment, then what extra reason is there for teams to be more careful?

    That being said I think the rule should be looked at. I’ve always believed: Punish the driver for a driving error, punish the team for a team error. Though there is a strong argument that Massa should have been penalised via a drive/through or grid penalty, How awful would that have been for the race and the outcome?! Massa drove beautifully and deserved the win and his 10 points, to take anything away from him would be a sin. But someone should be punished and that should be Ferrari. Dock them constructors points or fine them a significant amount of money. €10000 to an F1 team is like ice-cream money to the rest of us.

    As a Ferrari fan I often tire of people continuingly going on about pro-Ferrari bias and jibes like FIArrari and Ferrari International Assistance but after decisions like today, the FIA aren’t exactly doing their best to counteract these claims…

  13. While this is just the latest in a long line of examples where the FIA appears to have given preferential treatment towards Ferrari, we are now getting to the stage where a clear enough pattern is emerging as to raise more serious questions about what exactly is really going on inside the FIA. Do Ferrari have some kind of hold over them, or a few high-up individuals within the sport? Do the FIA have a conflict of interest?

    I am an advocate of Occam’s razor, which would suggest that rather than a deliberate action by the FIA to favour Ferrari, they have simply screwed up once again. But the situation now seems to be moving away from one of simple incompetence, towards something more sinister. Is it time to ask the question – does the FIA need to be cleaned up?

  14. No blame of Massa and i think only sligt of Ferrari. It was a bad luck. Nothing happend to the Sutil or Massa. If the Pit exit was bigger (like in Monza) this will be no problem.

    Remmember when Kubica and Alonso go out of the pit boxes in Monza 2006 wheel to wheel and no damage was done…

    I think you overreacting. If the same situation was with Lewis Hamilton an Adrian Sutil you still will be wanting a penalty for Lewis and McLaren?

  15. FIA wants Massa to win the championship plain and simple, because he has PASSION! and that’s what they want in a champion. The guy can’t drive well at all unless on pole position, but that’s what they want. Why else would he constantly be short fueled?!? Obviously there is a group in Ferrari, most likely lead by Michael Schumacher and Todt to sabatoge Kimi’s championship run so his “protege” can win the title.

  16. @Nick
    Drivers chose their strategy together with their engineers. One can often see 2 drivers from the same team driving with different strategies. Kimi, i think has always been fuelled relatively heavy(compared to Massa), even when he was winning poles, races and a championship, for that matter.

    I for one, will say this once again that this i’ve seen happen many times in the years past(in more than a decade or so of keeping track of F1). This however, never has been reported by the stewards ever for penalty.

  17. Regardless of whether the pit lane / pit lane exit is wide enough or not, the truth is that at any circuit there’s highly flammable fluid around and (as proved by one of Ferrari’s other stops today) people standing around wearing no more than fireproof overalls.

    Racing in the pitlane shouldn’t be allowed under any circumstance. If you decide it on whether the pit lane’s wide enough or not then it’s open to interpretation. If today in Valencia the FIA are trying to make an example of Massa / Ferrari then for this year they’re 12 races too late.

    Without trying to target Ferrari, I’d also highlight why Raikkonen was racing Kubica in the pit lane in Canada. Had the Ferrari and BWM not been side-by-side, Lewis would have had a place to steer his fast moving McLaren. At this point you’re talking about creating an avoidable accident.

  18. How nice to read unbiased comments from Dorian who is clearly a big Ferrari fan.

    Had the FIA puninished the team as they should have by stripping constructors points, it would have put McLaren ahead in the constructors championship. That would have never done!!!!!!

    On the subject of cleaning up the FIA, its been tried but they failed and Max reigns on….. By all accounts his replacement will be Jean Todt when he stands down at the end of the 2009 season….. I really can’t wait.

  19. What a bunch of whiners…… advantage to Ferrari????? What a microsecond and a metre? Both Massa and Sutil ought to be given bonuses ……. Massa for using the brakes and avoiding an incident and Sutil for allowing Massa to pass as soon as practicle. Kimi is the one who should have been penalized, he clearly left before the green light came on and not a word’s been whispered about that! I think there’s a lot of anti-Ferrari bias here and most can’t accept the fact that Massa is becoming a GREAT driver, here (and in Hungary) he just drove away from Hamilton at will. He’s learned his car, he’s learned to drive and he’s very possibly the next Driver Champion. Have a look back at yesterday’s question…….PREDICTIONS………50 entries and I didn’t see one with Massa as winner and few even had him on the podium. WAKE UP FOLKS!

  20. If Todt replaces Mosley next year then that will just sum up what F1 is all about.

  21. I think to suggest that Massa should be punished is unfair – he did exactly what a racing driver is supposed to do – leaving a pitstop isn’t like pulling out a junction, you can’t check your mirrors to make sure the road behind is clear. Massa went when his team instructed him to, and that’s where the fault lies – and it’s right the team is punished.

  22. article 23.1 (i) of the Sporting Regulations: “It is the responsibility of the competitor to release his car after a pit stop only when it is safe to do so.”
    Surely this rule also applies to Kimis incident (and others that have done similar).
    It’s not just about involving other cars in the pit lane.
    The advantage/disadvantage element in Massa’s case is a total red herring – it’s either safe or it’s not. The FIA should punish any car that doubles-up when exiting, for the safety of all personnel. There should also fixed penalties for this type of incident to avoid the fair/unfair situation. The penalties should not be monetary either (they don’t hurt).
    Alonso was given the same penalty as Massa for crossing a white line at the pit entry during free practice – are the incidents comparable ?

  23. michael counsell
    24th August 2008, 22:29

    In the GP2 feature race Karun Chandok was released into the path of Andy Soucek forcing Soucek to brake suddenly. This was dangerous and Chandok gained an advantage from doing this and was penalised immediately.

    The Massa incident was in the grey area because there was no possible way that Sutil needed to brake and Massa had to let him through which he did. Then Massa complained about it in the press conference, which I guess the stewards weren’t happy about and probbaly have or will give him a talking to.

  24. Number 38 – perfectly said… Even if there should have been a heavier punishment for Massa, it would be only for leaving the pits under unsafe circunstances, not for a supposed racing advantage generated by his conduct… Massa almost hit the wall, ran longer in the dust and had to back off… none of this means racing advantage…

    And all those who say FIA is openly pro-Ferrari shouldn’t forget that the same organization allowed the McLaren drivers to keep their points in the WDC after the spygate!

    @Nick – If you think Massa only races well from pole position, probably you’ve missed the Hungarian Grand Prix…

  25. Emotions running far too high in some posters for them to retain clarity (I’m looking at you Number 38). There’s some clear facts regarding Massa, his pit lane infringement and the punishment.
    Massa drove a superb race – no doubt – the win was deserved and he controlled things perfectly from the starting grid to the chequered flag.
    What occurred in the pit lane was an infringement of the rules – this point should not even be in debate. By all means debate whether the rule is appropriate but the rule that is in place was broken. Arguing against the established rule however – imho – is to offhandedly disregard the safety of every person that works up and down those pit lanes. there’s a lot of innocent folk out there having their lives put at risk by recklessness. That is no overdramatisation either – we all know what can happen when F1 cars collide.
    The punishment is – quite clearly – out of proportion and unprecedented. €10,000 is a token punishment – it means absolutely nothing to the purses of an F1 team like Ferrari and is simply a gesture to show that *some* punishment has been given. The driver was found guilty of the stated infringement of the rules and should have been given the same punishment that has been previously handed out to guilty parties. Setting a precedent whereby teams realise that these pit lane antics will result in nothing but a light tap on the wrist leaves pit lane workers in a very scary position – one i certainly don’t envy.

  26. The stewards should have issued a drive through as soon as it occured, just as in the GP2 race as cited by Keith. Why didn’t they? To allow time for Ferrari to create the bogus rationale that would allow letting them off. FIA favoritism for Ferrari? Undoubtedly!

    The bigger question is why Ferrari’s pit work seems to be falling apart, (Massa’s mistake and Kimi’s leaving early) as well as Kimi’s detonating engine. Not to mention the current WC seeming to sleep his way through the season with nary a care in the world. Ferrari are not worthy of either title this year.

  27. Massa’s comments about Sutil is on par with Hamiltons ‘monkeys at the back’

  28. Daniel you don’t think that a 1 million dollar fine and all their constructors points being stripped wasn’t a big enough punishment for McLaren then?

    I don’t think a 10,000 euro fine was a big enough punisment for Ferrari. Nobody wants to distract from Massa’s win today, he drove a sterling race, but as Keith points out in his article this is a small price and other teams may feel its worth the risk in the future.

    I don’t think there is a team on the grid who would risk a look at a Ferrari technical dossier.

  29. “And all those who say FIA is openly pro-Ferrari shouldn’t forget that the same organization allowed the McLaren drivers to keep their points in the WDC after the spygate.”

    As an inducement to sell out their team and keep their superlicenses! Massa’s infraction was not about racing advantage it was about pit lane safety, period. I agree that Felipe had the best car all day long, but winning is also about playing by the rules, all of them.

  30. Thats a very good point George. If anyone speeds in the pit lane by 1 kph, instantly they issue a drive through.

    On a different note you have to feel really sorry for Alonso. He gets a 10,000€ fine for crossing the pit lane white line then taken out in his home grand prix during the first lap.

  31. Spencer: Since the WDC is what matters the most, leaving two drivers that clearly had an sporting advantage without any consequence is unfair, IMO…

    From the team’s perspective, it was enough, but they had a chance to crown a world champion (and, in fact, few people remember the constructor’s champion, when it isn’t the driver’s champion team, like Ferrari’s WCC in 1999…), despite all the illegal improvements made on their cars…

    As for Massa, I think a grid drop (five places) would be the most reasonable punishment… beyond that would be as unproportional as the 10,000 euro fine…

  32. My wife and I debated this long and hard – an unsafe release is just plain unsafe. Firing a weapon in the High Street is also unsafe. Just because no-one gets hurt, doesn’t mean you should do it again. Silly example yes, but I’m sure you see my point.

    I disagree that only the team should be punished for a team mistake – F1 is a team sport so the fact that an unsafe release brings punishment on the driver, possibly robbing him of a win or points, would mean the team keeps on their toes. If the team start getting E10K fines for running underweight without the driver knowing, where does it end?

    And good on you Dorian – most Ferrari fans I know (Australians, yes, so lower IQ blah blah blah) would never be so even-handed.

    E10K is a piffling fine, that’s the sort of fine they hand out in lesser formulae where it actually hurts. He should have had a drive-through, just like a McLaren undoubtedly would. And no, I’m no massive McLaren fan, but the reality is Ferrari got away with it, as usual. This isn’t a charming eccentricity of the sport anymore, it’s a big steaming load of poo.

  33. I do not want Massa be punish but rules are rules. He did not brake rule, it was team who let him go too early.But by rules its drivers who pay price.Money punishment really do not means so much for these guys who earn so much. So drive threw during race would be correct.

    Seems that FIA was softy in this weekend and not only for Ferrari like some McLaren fans want believe. They were soft for Glock as well.

  34. Number 38: “Kimi is the one who should have been penalized, he clearly left before the green light came on and not a word’s been whispered about that!”

    I mentioned that here, but besides that Raikkonen didn’t break any rules so it’s really just two different incidents.

    Ceedas: “I think to suggest that Massa should be punished is unfair – he did exactly what a racing driver is supposed to do – leaving a pitstop isn’t like pulling out a junction, you can’t check your mirrors to make sure the road behind is clear.” I think your point is quite illuminating, although I don’t agree with you. There’s no reason why Ferrari or any other team couldn’t make it possible for their drivers to see what is coming behind them. They could stick huge wing mirrors on the cars, or they could use mirrored lollipops (as they chose to until fairly recently). But instead they delegate that part of controlling the car from the driver to someone else. Again, that’s entirely at their discretion, but the driver is in control of the car and if he makes an error in driving it as a result of bad information then he should be penalised for it just like anything else.

    But this brings me back to one of the points above: if someone has done something unsafe and gained an advantage, and you punish them with a (comparatively small) fine, there is no reason for them not to do it again.

    D Winn – Good point on the Alonso penalty. I thought Massa’s transgression was far more dangerous.

    Daniel: “Massa almost hit the wall, ran longer in the dust and had to back off… none of this means racing advantage.”
    I don’t agree. Because Massa ran alongside Sutil he was able to leave the pits closer to the Force India than is Ferrari had waited and released him as the Force India was passing by. It’s a bit like trying to jump onto a moving car – it’d be much easier if you were standing on another car moving at the same speed, than if you were standing at the side of the road.

    But I agree a stiffer punishment is needed for Massa. A five place grid penalty would be alright, but there’s no reason why they couldn’t have imposed a time or drive-through penalty for this race.

  35. Surely the fact that the incident was investigated after the race is irrelevant, seeing as that is how it has been since 2006 for any incident that happens during a race that requires the stewards’ attention.

    Furthermore, seeing as Vettel and STR weren’t punished for the incident with Alonso in Hockenheim?, which, let’s face it, was pretty much the same situation (except it was for position instead of one driver being nearly a lap down), I don’t see how or why Ferrari and/or Massa can be punished.

  36. Rohan – Loads of incidents in the past year and a half have resulted in penalties during the race – Hamilton at Magny-Cours this year for example.

  37. Yes, you’re right Keith – it’s been a long day /o\

  38. Giving Massa a points dock might seriously affect Ferrari viewership because Lewis would be well ahead. Does anyone think that the need to keep Ferrari well in the game (so that people continue to watch, etc) is contributing to the inconsistent decisions?

    I think these decisions are influenced by the need to keep the championship unpredictable as far as possible.

  39. I keep reading that Max has contributed so much to F1 safety and then we have a situation where the stewards say something that happened was dangerous and then don’t punish it. The idea that Massa should not be punished because he drove well is mind boggling. Dangerous is dangerous and should be punished regardless how well someone drove.

    Alan Donnelly was Max’s personal appointment to assist the stewards in reaching quick decisions yet something like this which is an open and shut case cannot be decided until after the race.

    Clearly this is another case of Ferrari International Assistance coming to the rescue of their team. This is the same as Raikkonen being allowed to drive round Magny Cours with an exhaust pipe dangling on a wire.

    Constructors points and drivers points should always be linked. The idea that you can take points off one and not the other is ridiculous and only worthy of someone like Max. How can McLaren lose constructors points for Alonso parking in the pits in Hungary but Ferrari receive no penalty for flouting safety rules?

    The FIA are clearly prepared to roll over and let Ferrari do anything they want regardless how much they embarrass the FIA. No-one with any sense believed Ferrari’s wheel covers had anything to do with brake cooling. But unless they are barke duct extensions they are illegal for about four different reasons. For the second time this season Ferrari have had to remove they brake colling devices to stop their brakes overheating. They lied all along about their purpose and everyone with any sense knew they were lying. Either the FIA were conned and don’t want to raise the issue now or they were complicit.

  40. @Shashi
    That was last year(erm, spygate anyone?)… and this year who knows??? 4 drivers are separated by less than 20 points, with still a handful of races to go. It is so far anyone’s championship, with or without the intervention from FIA.

    This is perhaps the first ever incident of this sort, reported by stewards(in more than a decade or so)? It is not like this never ever happened. People, these are young guys driving fast cars. Potentially dangerous mix, which is why they have rules. However, rules are to regulate racing, not to choke racing and racing drivers(as many of you complained in so many posts).

  41. Typical of the FIA to let Farrari off, they always seem to do everything they can to put other teams down in the interests of helping Ferrari win the championship, because of this I always want Ferrari to lose so that it annoys the FIA. If a McLaren had done something dangerous in the pits they would have been penalised with glee as they have been in the past; and that is totally wrong in a sporting event where evenhandedness is very important. There should be an external enquirey into the goings on inside the FIA by an impartial organisation.

  42. steve thompson
    25th August 2008, 0:38

    FIA – Ferrari …… enough said. I’m just shocked it wasn’t found to be the fault of McLaren.

  43. For some reason I keep getting a picture of a big wheel-of-fortune-type spinner wheel in my head, and the FIA Stewards standing around it, with Ferrari calling out “Free Spin” from the stalls………

  44. Pink Peril,

    Alianora beat you to this theory after some of last year’s inventive interpretation of the rules. Because there were so many unusual rulings she ended up with two wheels of misfortune.

    The original can be found at and the second at

  45. bernification
    25th August 2008, 2:02

    Disgusting, disgusting, disgusting, how can the stewards be capable of setting a precedent in the GP2 race and then disregarding it completely in F1?

    This is not the first time Ferrari have done this, Kimi’s infringment was overshadowed by Lewis’s later mistake in Canada (and the one by Nico, that no-one ever mentions), but this shows how far Ferrari are willing to push, as always, to see what they can get away with.

    Does anyone know how the re-fueling tech who was injured is?

    Why does everyone, up and down the pit lane use a real person to release, and Ferrari not?
    Because it works…

    Raikkonen deserves a BIG penalty (HUGE CASH and grid penalty) for what he did, as we all saw from onboard he left early, seriously putting someones life in jeopardy, and Massa SHOULD have come in for a drive through or 10 second stop/go.

    Anything else just shows Max really thinks ‘Ferrari are the most important team in formula 1’- his words not mine.

    I am appalled.

  46. bernification
    25th August 2008, 2:07

    PS, I thought Massa drove brilliantly, other than his disregard for the pit safety rules, until I heard him blame Sutil!

    I think in the next race everyone should drive through the pit flat out, and just say’ I never hit anyone’.

  47. For those who suggest that Massa shouldn’t have been punished in any way because it was a team error:

    Massa is a part of the team. As such, he should have been punished for it in the form of a drive-through penalty.

  48. I find it’s ridiculous that Massa blamed Sutil for the pit lane incident. It’s an immature and arrogant response on his part. Why is Sutil meant to calmly drive down the pitlane expecting to stand on the anchors to let the Ferrari past? Is it because he drives a Ferrari and therefore has more apparent pedigree? i just find that after an excellent race from the Brazilian, he tainted it with a stupid statement like that. It reminds me of the old Massa, the immature mistake prone racer with a knack for speed. Only difference is his has fixed his mistakes extremely well!

  49. I don’t understand how Massa can possibly be guilty of the infraction. The infraction was “unsafe release from a pit stop”, this is impossible for a driver to commit unless they hop out of the car and do the lollypop thing themselves.

  50. The video of the incident is up on Youtube for anyone that missed it:

  51. @ Steven Roy at 1.53am

    So although it seems I may be plagiarist (albeit unintentionally), I am in good company ;)

  52. Keith: “But I agree a stiffer punishment is needed for Massa. A five place grid penalty would be alright, but there’s no reason why they couldn’t have imposed a time or drive-through penalty for this race.”

    If in this same situation will be McLaren team in future you still will be go for a punishment of this sort?

  53. For Brazilian supporters it´s quite difficult to understand wy someone would think Massa deserved to be punished.

    The only way to understand that is to put in the other place. If we imagine that it was Schumacher in Massa´s Driving place.

    This may be an issue. But there was many others. Like the dust, the plastic in Kubica´s car, the narrow pitlane (Massa could choice almost to hit Sutil or the the Mercedes pace car parked in the right), two mechanics were hit (a Red Bull one too, probably because of the dust in the pit lane) and finally all the circuit that is the worst combination off Barcelona, Hungry, trying to mimic Monaco.

  54. yeah i agree, but i knew this was going to happen the moment they announced that the incident involving car number two was going to be investigated after the race. while i wouldnt go far as to say this is typical FIA favouratism towards Ferrari, these things do leave a rather bad taste in the mouth and take away from a almost flawless victory by Massa. Ferrari needs to stop making such amatuer mistakes.

  55. gregoff,

    Come on. Any team that does this should be penalized for it. McLaren has been penalized plenty of times over the past couple of seasons, often for things that have gone less punished or even unpunished for other teams. (I.E. Renault “inappropriately possessing” McLaren I.P., etc.)

  56. Credit to the FIA for not penalising Massa and destroying a race he won from when he grabbed it by the throat from when he qualified P1 onwards. As for Brundle & co. to lament the fact he was not penalised for the remainder of the race , to me reflects badly on how they would accept any win by McLaren , no matter how. Nick on #15 , to quote your comment about Massa “The guy can’t drive well at all unless on pole position ..” , you must have missed the Hungarian GP ? I think Massa is doing brilliantly , he continues to raise his game race after race , (to the extent he even made Lewis catch a Flu this week-end ?)- just wish the same could be said about Ferrari in their overall strategy / pit stops and reliability , quite worrying.

  57. The problem is consistency with the punishments metted out by the FIA. Massa and Ferrari broke the rules by releasing the car when it was not safe to do so.

    But how can the fine or DQ or grid penalty change, depending on the mood of the stewards? It’s crazy – either be draconian or have “token” punishments, one or the other.

    I’d love to be a fly on the wall at the post-valencia drivers meetings. This kind of radical swing in what penalties are awarded doesn’t help the drivers one bit.

    This kind of thing used to happen in the 80’s, then there would be a FIA regs change, then the FIA would behave itself and be more on an even keel; for a while.

    This kind of inconsistency does no favours for Formula One at all.

  58. “But what the FIA unquestionably got wrong was delaying the decision until after the race.”

    Well, as Max was on holidays, was so dificult for the stewards to contact him!

  59. Jonesracing82
    25th August 2008, 8:55

    i knew something dodgy was going on when they said they’ll “investigate AFTER the race” despite half the race being left to run.

  60. diseased rat
    25th August 2008, 9:08

    I can not read any comments beyond no. 50. When I click on page 2 or “show all” it just takes me back to the f1fanatic homepage. I have tried with Firefox 3 and IE 7.

  61. Let’s face it , Massa won the race fair and square. There are dozens of similar incidents this year , now suddenly because it is Massa/Ferrari leading Hamilton/McLaren , commentators and the many agrieved supporters cry foul ?

  62. I for one appreciated Massa’s brilliant driving. And yes, he blew them all away. That however, does not dimish the fact that a rule was broken and he should have been given a drive through penalty. It would not have been fair but a lot of penalties have not been fair this year. It would be nice to have some consistency.

  63. What occured was dangerous, and that is the whole point.
    Massa should have received a drive through penalty.
    The presidence was set in the earlier GP2 race when the same infringement of safety rule happened.
    I wonder if the same punishment (a telling off) would have been given to Mclaren if it was them who acted in a dangerous manner.
    I am disappointed with the FIA’s handling of this.

  64. Paige:

    Come on. Any team that does this should be penalized for it. McLaren has been penalized plenty of times over the past couple of seasons, often for things that have gone less punished or even unpunished for other teams. (I.E. Renault “inappropriately possessing” McLaren I.P., etc.)

    i know that. But i think a drive trough penalty, 5 grid penalty or time penalty for Massa is a very wrong idea of punishment. The driver did not do something that was wrong… And i think in last season we where shown a couple of FIA decison that was on favor of Hamilton and no one was going to put a article about it…

    FIA is always changing the punishment to it’s own judgment and that is the fact from last couple seasons. The question is if Massa did get some sort of advantage thanks to earlier start from pits? Sutil was pretty ahead of him when he was starting and the situation was not that dangerous. The FIA judged that they no right to manipulate the fight for World Championsip and ony get attention on that problem. If this will happen often the teams have to think about the risk of bigger punishment…

    Get done the racing on track and let the drivers to fight for overall win no some sort of judges from FIA.

  65. I am amazed anybody is thinking ferrari is being better treated, they are going to pay a fine for the same action that has been done for other teams even this same season, and other people hasn´t pay anything. As the outcome was the same as other occasions (nothing happened) this time ferrari are paying the duck

  66. its funny how these arguments always descend into a ferrar+fia vs mclaren affair, that is what i love about the sport though, everyone is so absolutely passionate about everything :)

  67. Slightly off topic, but Keith you haven’t discussed Kimi’s engine failure at all. It seems it was his fault, and not regular Ferrari’s reliability. This news is from the official website. Take a look

  68. Teamorders, I don’t believe it’s Massa being PERSONALLY guilt… but the thing is that, as we only see one person crossing the finish line onboard the car, we tend to forget that a lot of people is making it happen. The pilot has a team of people and a set of equipment built around him to push him to victory. It is debatable, however, if the penalisation should be directed at the team or at the driver. But I think that if the FIA wants (for whatever reason) to let the incident go unpunished, they should have the guts to just do so, instead of “punishing” the team with an “huge” € 10.000

  69. Sumedh – thanks for the tip

    Diseased rat – have emailed you about your problem

  70. I think for the first time common sense has prevailed when giving out a penalty: it would have been absolutely shocking if Massa would have been forced to concede his penalty for something as trivial as that.

    No damage was done, no time was really lost.

  71. For clarification here’s Stefano Domenicali explaining how Ferrari’s pit release system works.

    Basically when the fuel nozzle is connected to the car, you see that there is a red light on. At a certain moment, you see that there is a flashing light that is close to the red light that is flashing, showing the driver that he has to be ready.

    Then, as soon as the nozzle is coming off, the light becomes green unless the guy that is controlling the pitstop position is controlling that manually, because that means that there is a car on the fast lane that is coming through, so he has to block the car. That is the system, how it works. We’ve used it since last year.

    In Massa’s case presumably no-one at Ferrari was holding the button to delay the car’s release because of Sutil going past.

  72. Alianora La Canta
    25th August 2008, 12:24

    I am seriously unimpressed with the way the FIA has handled this. The stewards delayed the decision after the race despite it being obvious that the release was unsafe. The message declaring that might as well have added that Ferrari were going to be given no significant penalty regardless of the visual evidence.

    Matters are not helped by the seriously inconsistent way that punishments have previously been handed out for this type of regulation breach. However, the regulations are clear in that there are only four possible punishments for this incident: a drive-through penalty, a 10-second stop/go penalty, a 25-second post-race penalty or a 10-place grid drop. There is no provision whatsoever for a fine to be imposed. (Yes, the FIA have issued fines before, but only when the driver got a DNF immediately afterwards).

    If Ferrari did not deserve punishment for the incident, why were they fined? If they did deserve punishment, why didn’t they receive one of the punishments that the regulations say should be given for that type of incident?

  73. One thing has always been true over the years Ferrari
    = FIA.

    The rest of the world needs to understand that and we will stop visiting doctors with heart problems and raised blood pressures.

    There’s one thing that I find quite disturbing and explains why people like Ferrari get away with murder and that is the blind cult-like loyalty that people have to such an extent that they willingly say Massa was right to break the rules as long as he is in a Ferrari but everyone else must be punished.

    You all need to check yourselves. Rules are there to guarantee compliance by EVERYONE and NOT for Ferrari to choose which ones to follow…

  74. I am glad you turned up here Alianora because yu are the only person I know who actually knows the FIA rules.

    Those of you who say other similar things have gone unpunished in the past are missing the point. The stewards decided this one was dangerous. As soon as they decided it was dangerous they have to give one of the penalties Alianora has listed above. Their own rules do not allow them to do what they have done.

    Focus on the facts and forget whether Massa drove well or what would have happened if a McLaren had done the same thing. The facts are the stewards decided it was dangerous and therefore had to give either a drive-through penalty, a 10-second stop/go penalty, a 25-second post-race penalty or a 10-place grid drop. But as they have done in the past they invented a new penalty and as in the past when they have invented a new penalty Ferrari benefitted.

    I think the Raikkonen thing is different in that it was simply driver error. The guy anticipated the green light because the fuel rig man pressed the button to say he had released the nozzle when he pulled it and it stuck. So the orange light came on and only the chief mechanic had to press his button which would normally happen straight after the fuel rig man.

    The prpose of penalties is to stop people doing certain things. There is no penalty that can be imposed that will stop a driver anticipating lights. There is however a penalty that can be imposed to stop a team releasing a driver into the path of another and it is not an insignificant fine. Make no mistake about it the FIA planned to give Massa a 10 second penalty after the race but he couldn’t build a gap.

    Leaving a decision until after the race means they can make a decision knowing exactly how it affects the finishing order in the race. That is undesirable at best and criminal at worst.

  75. Agreed, great knowledge as usual Alianora :-)

  76. Allanora: “If Ferrari did not deserve punishment for the incident, why were they fined? If they did deserve punishment, why didn’t they receive one of the punishments that the regulations say should be given for that type of incident?”

    Becuase it was unfair for the Massa to give it to him? Beacuse the driver error was pretty low and no real danger? Beacuse this is how the FIA is working for all the years?

    I repeat my question: If the McLaren driver was in the same situation like Massa you still be wanting a punisment for him and that was cost him a win in Grand Prix?

    Give me a break:) Nakajima did a very worst thing to Alonso and no one is asking to get him a punisment…

  77. Boy, had this incident involved, say, Nakagima instead of Massa and I don’t think anybody would be asking the guy to be punished. But since the outcome of such a punishment would see Hamiboy win the race, every reason is a good reason isn’t it? Such as Massa got an advantage for being released side by side with Sutil. What advantage? Even if he would not have been so close to Sutil in the exit of the pitlane (which is in itself a ludicrous thing to say) he was 8 secs ahead of Hamilton anyway – he gained nothing except for a scare.
    And what is it about Sutil not having to give way? Backmarkers must almost stop on the track to give way to front runners, but they are fine to race them in the pits? What is the arrogance about pointing out that backmarkers should get out of the way?
    Funny thing: When Kubica did the same in Canada, and actually benefited big time from it, nobody said a word.

  78. I would, Gregoff. And I’m a Ferrari fan.

    And that’s the concern here. The FIA, if they are biased towards Ferrari, would’ve had no problems whatsoever punishing Hamilton. But they seem to have hesitated with Massa.

    And yep, that Nakajima-Alonso incident should’ve been investigated too.


    Antifia… Kubica was on the track to go out and Ferrari was the car that go from the pit stop. The blame is on Kimi and Ferrari. Why then nobody get an attention to FIA that is not a good idea to put Kimi side to side with another car?

  80. Nick: Get a grip. Ferrari is sabotaging Kimi to see Massa win? Yeah, it looks just about right. They found out what blew Massa’s engine in the previous race and had no doubt: That is what we must do to Kimi now! When it comes to passion, it is utterly unfair to say the Kimi does not possess it. He is just unable to express it, since it often involves putting more than three words together in the same sentence.

  81. Antifia, you don’t get most people’s point here. What we want is consistency from the FIA with their rules. Not necessarily that they punish or not punish Massa. They said Massa was guilty, they had to punish him as per the rules. If they decided Massa was not guilty, then so be it.

    Sutil won’t stop in the pits for Massa, that’s not his responsibility. It’s the team’s responsibility to release the driver at the right time.

    And if you’re referring to Kubica vs Kimi, they stayed in a straight line and didn’t veer towards each other. Fundamental difference to Massa veering straight into Sutil.

  82. Antifia – The Hamilton thing isn’t relevant. If Massa saved time, he gained an advantage. And I can’t believe you seriously think I would not take an interest in an incident like this involving the race leader, regardless of whether it was Massa, Hamilton or someone else.

    I think all this stuff about Ferrari favouring Massa over Raikkonen is nonsense. Just like the same stuff about McLaren with Alonso and Hamilton last.

  83. Actually, Keith, the Ferrari favoring Massa issue is even less likely than the McLaren favoring Hamilton issue. After all, it was LDM himself who brought Kimi in to replace Michael at Ferrari. It doesn’t get much higher than that.

    Unless Nick was being sarcastic?

  84. Journeyer – Perhaps, but I have seen a few people here and elsewhere suggest it.

  85. I always knew the F in FIA stood for Ferrari, if this had been a McLaren they probably would have been black flagged! What a bunch of crap, and then for that whiner Massa to blame Sutil for the incident, what a lack of class! It is a shame that in F1, the greatest motor sport in the world, that there are one set of rules for Ferrari and another set for every other team.

  86. Thanks god it did not.
    There is a championship to be watched, and i hope to watch the last race in brasil, without knowing the winner.
    At least this time i think the fia, did the right thing. Not like in 2003, when rhey ruined the campionship, with the penalty on montoya, at indy. Shame on them.

  87. Journeyer, it is always a good strategy to cloth an argument in principles when the matter is really naked self-interest. People are not pissed because there was a close scrape in the pitlane(for which Massa cannot be blamed – the team tells him when to go and he actually pressed the breaks when he saw Sutil and sloted behind him). They are ****** because Massa was not disqualified or did not get a stop-and-go penalty that would have given Lewis the victory.
    When it comes to Sutil, well, he could have pressed the breaks when the cars were side by side. He had to do it anyway, say, 100m after they left the pitlane (and to be honest, I think lost more time then than he would have in the pits).
    You are right about the Kimi/Kubica incident (I swaped the fellows)…but what about Vettel/Alonso in England ?Or, the many, many other cases in which the same stuff happened?

  88. Guys,

    It doesn’t matter who the driver was or what team he drove for. Those of us who are not happy with what happened yesterday are complaining that the stewards decided that Ferrari did something dangerous and then totally ignored their own rules. That is all.

    Alianora knows the rules beeter than anyone I know so if she says that the rules allow one of the four punishments mentioned that is good enough for me.

    I have no doubt the stewards though that Massa could pull a 10 second gap on Hamilton and then they would have given that punishment. When Massa failed to get that gap they invented something to make sure Ferrari won.

    All any of us want is one set of rules to be applied consistently. Quite why they need 4 alternative punishments is beyond me. All they need is to the drive through and if something happens late in the race a fixed time penalty. Grid penalties for the next race are idiotic.

    This is not an anti-Ferrari complaint it is anti-FIA inconsistency. What we had yesterday was the equivalent of a football referee telling a player he had committed a foul but he would wait until the end of the match to decide whether he would give a penalty or an indirect free kick. It was ridiculous.

  89. Ferrari needs all the help from FIA to win the championship!! Great going!

  90. FIA is not acting according to the spirit of the rules. A rule, although how absurd it may be, once accepted has to be enforced.

    In US, cars must stop at the stop sign even if there are no cars in the intersection. If you are caught violating this rule, you will be given a ticket, unless you are an attractive girl ;). The reason for giving the ticket is that it is a rule, and if not penalized, you could end up doing this when the cars are around resulting in an accident. There’s no common sense to be used when it comes to rules — when it involves safety.

    Although it is not fair to penalize Massa, Ferrari should have been fined on two counts. They removed the lollipop man; and put an electronic system. It was a close call here with Sutil here, it could have been worse.

    If I were to be sensible, I would let Massa keep his individual points, while remove the 10 constructors point that came to Ferrari due to the win. It will serve the team well, and not penalize the driver who drove the best on Sunday.

    But, then the above “logic” is way out of the league for FIA.

  91. “But, then the above “logic” is way out of the league for FIA.”

    Do you understand what the word logic means? Ferrari are more interested in the drivers championship so you are going to let them keep drivers championship points and take points away from the constructors championship which they are guaranteed to win anyway. That has nothing to do with logic.

    If a any driver/any team commits any offence which merits the loss of points it has to lose both drivers and constructors points. You cannot split them. Otherwise you end up with more ways for the FIA to fiddle things.

  92. Ferrari are more interested in the drivers championship so you are going to let them keep drivers championship points and take points away from the constructors championship which they are guaranteed to win anyway.

    Not necessarily, Steven. The WCC represents the team better. But then again, we remember the WDC, not the WCC.

    But they’re not guaranteed to win the constructors, not by any means. McLaren are now just 8pts behind Ferrari.

  93. wow, thanks alianora – that clears things up pretty much completely!!! And just leaevs me even more gobsmacked with the events of yesterday!

    but a couple of other really good points have also been brought up –

    1. Massa’s explanation and blaming of Sutil was a disgrace. He should be properly ashamed of himself – in fact he truly sounds like his mentor schumi when he says things like that, acting like he’s King of the Road! but more importantly you can see very very clearly from the complete onboard shot from massa’s car that actually he didn;t brake at all when he was alongside Sutil. In fact he only braked when he was faced with the pitlane wall narrowing at the very end of the pitlane (after the safety cars!). Up until that point – he was side by side with Sutil! To me it looked like he was racing him, and basically playing chicken – intimidating him to try and get Sutil to back down.

    So basically he was completely lying in the press conference – I’d love the FIA to demand to see his telemetry to see if he was telling the truth about his braking!

    2. The whole debacle in Montreal, as someone said, if kubica and raikonnen hadn;t been side by side in the pitlane, hamilton would have had somewhere to go. Which brings up the point that maybe those two shouldn’t have been racing down the pitlane!

    3. from the videos, it definitely looked like Vettel did something very similar in hungary to Alonso – the only difference being in both Montreal and hungary, that the pitlane was more than wide enough to hold to cars alongside each other. Which begs the point – should the rule state that cars should ALWAYS be single file in the pitlane. Wouldn’t that be the best way to keep things simple??

    4. Kimi totally deserves a grid penalty in the next race for his mistake. No excuse, and extremely dangerous.

    5. i would totally agree with the conspiracy statement that the FIA are trying to keep things close between Mclaren and Ferrari. Although, if they’d given massa either a 25 second penalty, a drive through, or a stop and go – he’d probably still have managed to finish second – so it wouldn;t actually have been as vast a difference as most would like to think.

  94. I believe that Massa should have not been punished but the team should have been punished with constructor points just as in the case of Lewis in the spygate controversy. I belive if lewis was allowed to keep his points in the championship last year penalising Massa would have been harsh and stupid.

  95. William Wilgus
    25th August 2008, 17:28

    If I read some of theses posts correctly, when Ferrari signaled Massa to go, he should have gotten on the radio and asked “Are you sure? Did you double check?” and only actually left his pit if and when Ferrari answered “Yes”. Having failed to do so, Massa should be stripped of all his points and banned from racing for life!

    Seriously folks, and after watching the video, I think Ferrari simply misjudged the clearance that would be between Massa and Sutil: an honest mistake. Does anyone think that Ferrari would be stupid enough to risk a pit lane accident with one of their cars—especially when it was leading the race—just for a small advantage?

    As to Massa’s complaint, isn’t it standard courtesy for a lapped car to give way to race leaders on the track, and shouldn’t that courtesy be given in the pits as well?

    Surely some of you are making a mountain out of a mole-hill.

  96. I don’t understand all the argument made.

    First, who should’ve gotten punished? I believe it is the team’s responsibility to release the driver back onto the track. Therefore, the penalty should be assessed to the team.

    Second, the rules don’t stipulate what the punishment should be. How is this Ferrari’s fault? Should they be docked points or fined, that’s not the driver’s fault.

    Third, in Montreal they use the lighting system to control how drivers re-enter the track after pitting. The point was brought up that this is useless since the track already does a good job of letting the cars re-enter the track safely. However, since they use this system at every track, it must be used here. So, if the pit lane is “wide enough” at every other track why shouldn’t it be “wide enough” here?

  97. Paulo,

    I suggest you read Alianora’s post (number 72) which details what punishments are allowed for the offence.

  98. I felt he should have been penalized. But, considering he is in a Ferrari, I knew in my mind he wasn’t going to be.

    I can’t help but wonder, if it was Lewis Hamilton in Massa’s place, and Massa in Sutil’s place, if the penalty would have more extreme.

    I guess we’ll never know.

    My Girlfriend only started watching Formula One with me a few years ago, but even as a new comer to the sport she wonders why Ferrari seem to get everything so easy. I doubt things will change so long as the current people in charge remain in charge.

    Still though, I was glad to see Massa win. If Hamilton doesn’t win the championship, I wouldn’t be too upset if it Massa that beats him.


  99. “I don’t understand how Massa can possibly be guilty of the infraction. The infraction was “unsafe release from a pit stop”, this is impossible for a driver to commit unless they hop out of the car and do the lollypop thing themselves.”

    Perfect point: One compromise, let Massa keep the driver’s points and Ferrari surrenders his Constructor’s points!

  100. My comment 99 was in response to comment 50!

  101. MarathonMan801
    25th August 2008, 21:37

    As I have said on another forum, this is another argument for the instigation of the ‘Pit Lane Police’ that you see in US racing. They dart up and down pit lane looking for rule infractions as keenly as parking wardens – and the they report them instantly to race control for Proper Investigation And Punishment – not the Mickey Mouse variety we saw this weekend.

  102. why would Kimi get a penalty? There’s been plenty of times a driver accidentally left the pits early. Last year, Albers took the hose down the entire pit lane.

  103. Once again a storm in a teacup created and fuelled by the anti-Ferrari brigade. The stewards got it right this time. The Massa-Sutil pitlane incident didn’t warrant any penalty – these are supposed to be the best drivers in the world who ought to have the skills and reflexes to avoid low speed accidents – and no accident happened. Which is why the stewards initially did nothing, because the incident didn’t rise to the level of ”dangerous”. Massa and Sutil coped. Obviously, some team, most likely running silver cars, protested, so the stewards were forced to “investigate” and “punish” the “offenders”.

  104. William Wilgus
    26th August 2008, 3:34

    Green Flag: Right on!

  105. Personally, I love these kind of incidents in racing. When two drivers have to race out of a pitstop, to beat the other, it adds spice to the show.
    These mechanics are all grown men, all professionals of their art. They know that the risks in what they do are great, and they except them. If what happened between Massa and Sutil was dangerous, what about the ‘three’ seperate incidents with refuelling rigs in Hungary? This really is just a case of apples and oranges.
    Everybody wants 200mph, wheel to wheel, balls out racing, but for nobody to be put in any danger, and then ‘whine’ when the racing is predictable and has no overtaking. Get real!

  106. William Wilgus
    26th August 2008, 4:18

    the limit: I’ll agree with everything you say except that NASCAR fans go to see the wrecks! ;^)~

  107. Green Flag, I’d call the Massa-Sutil incident a close call. Everything may have turned out alright, but chances are that would only happen half the time. Prevention is better than cure, they’d say.

    And the thing is, the accident was completely avoidable, had Massa been released safely. Now, if the incident was out of their hands, I’d have understood, but it’s the team who decides when to let Massa go. So Ferrari made a mistake there.

  108. The point is that it was unsafe driving in the Pit Lane, and in a narrow Pit Lane too, which is strange in itself considering all the requirements for new circuits from the FIA and FOM. Surely a wider Pit Lane is safer?
    Ferrari deserved to be punished since they allowed their driver out into the path of another car. It was down to Massa and Sutil to stop contact being made, so they cannot be blamed. It doesn’t matter which cars are involved, its still unsafe – as the original message from the Stewards said.
    So its painfully obvious that a)Ferrari had the penalty delayed until after the race – were they expecting Massa’s car to blow up? b)Ferrari convinced the Stewards that it wasn’t to their advantage – which is silly since Massa would have overtaken Sutil on the circuit again anyway (and did). c)Ferrari convinced the Stewards to give them a measly fine – EUR 10,000.00 is nothing to a team of their size.
    There is also the question of the nature of their Pit Release mechanism. It appears to be automated, once everyone in the Pit Crew have done their job, it allows the driver to go. But the Ferrari PR man said that it was operated by an un-named person, so surely the two mistakes in the Pit Stops are down to human error, which again for a team of Ferrari’s experience is really strange to hear. I’d like to know why the Pit Crew were so uneasy during those Pit Stops. What were they expecting? What had they been told?
    I would also like to nominate Massa’s engineer for ‘Ego of the Year’ after his behaviour on the podium. Sure he can celebrate, but he appears to think he’s a racing driver!

  109. Green Flag – “These are supposed to be the best drivers in the world who ought to have the skills and reflexes to avoid low speed accidents – and no accident happened.”

    I really think it is terrible reasoning to say there isn’t a problem just because nothing bad happened. When Gerhard Berger and Nelson Piquet had their crashes at Tamburello in 1989 and 1987 they survived but it didn’t mean the corner was safe enough, did it?

    I also think it’s rather glib to say something is being ‘fuelled by the anti-Ferrari brigade’. As Alianora explained, the stewards agreed Ferrari had done something wrong then gave them a punishment that didn’t fit with their own rules. This is about the stewards more than it is about Ferrari.

  110. All I’ve read here are purely opinions. Nothing is concrete. All your FIA speculations were may be because of sour graping. If most of you think FIA is pro-Ferrari, then i think you can find other sports rather waste your time here in F1. just my 2 cents.

  111. Ok, here is my view on this matter.

    In Monaco Kimi was given a drive through penalty for not having his wheels put on within the 3 mins before the start of the formation lap. This was deemed “unsafe” as the mechanics need to be off of the grid in good time before the formation lap. This was a team error, yet they penalised the driver. This Penalty was issued by lap 10 of the race. Using this precedent that if the team threaten a rule which is there for the safety of others, then the pit lane situation in Valencia at the weekend should carry the same penalty.

    What makes me irate about the decision making process of the Stewards is the level of subjective in these events that it starts to make a mockery of the sport. For example, just because Massa had driven a superb race the Stewards seem ashamed to penalise Massa, because the fans would have been confused as to why he had his win taken away. In contrast the FIA seem happy to give a penalty to Kimi in Monaco as 1 – he was not leading, 2 – it was the start of the race, meaning the impact would have caused less disruption to his race.

    Now, what if that pit lane events from Sunday did not happen in Valencia, but Spa, or Monaco, a crash would surly have followed. What if Ferrari were at the start of the pit lane and not the end? Would massa have traveled the length of the pit lane along side of the Force India threatening the mechanics in the pitlane?

    The events from Valencia take me back to Canada, where after the race I was very critical of the seemingly potentially dangerous racing rules that are allowed in the pit lane. It should not be a place to race, that is why there is a speed limit and cars should not be allowed to race side by side. It should be single file, and the driver that currently has all four wheels in the main lane of the pit lane should be given right of way at all times to avoid the scrabble for the exit.

    This would have most likely avoided the incident in Canada as the sleepy Lewis would have had a place to pull over to as he spotted the red light, but couldn’t because Kimi was straddling the spare space, and the events on Sunday, which would have given Sutil the right of way.

    But these are processes the FIA should sort to protect mechanics and drivers from accidents in the pit lane, seeing as it should be Safety first. my main issue here is the inconsistency of the stewards who seem too weak to make the big decision, as many have pointed out – they were spot on in the GP2 race, yet chickened out of the big race. This only goes to add fuel to the fire that the FIA favour Ferrari.

    Also, I think the Ferrari pit lane system should be outlawed. No one is accountable to releasing the driver and there needs to be accountability. Perhaps the Fia should employ their own lolly pop stewards to decide when it is safe to release the drivers.

  112. Actually Scott if you look at the quote from Stefano Domenicali in comment 71 someone is responsible for releasing the driver – I think ITV gave the impression there isn’t.

    CD – I think Alianora’s point in comment 72 is ‘concrete’. So are the points about inconsistency in the stewards’ decisions.

  113. I find the comments that “Nothing happened, so it’s no big deal” sickening. Even Mark Blundell said on ITV that it’s ok as there was no accident and no one got hurt. Who has to get hurt to put in a stiffer punishment?

    So here’s a radical thought. If we are going to allow racing in the pitlane, why not get rid of that rule about clearing the grid before the GP starts. Or lets get rid of the formation lap? I mean how dangerous could that be? Oh, hold on there’s that mechanic in 1981 Belgium GP that lept over the wall before the start of the race!
    Or let’s allow teams to not bother with those big heavy lumbering fire proof suits, they must make refuelling a bit slower? Oh hold on, what about that fire with Jos Versatappen in 1994!

    Or how about allowing overtaking when there are yellow flags. These F1 drivers are the best in the world so they wouldn’t make a mistake passing another car under yellow flags would they?

    Come on guys! I really love racing but I do not want to see anyone hurt. Pitlanes are dangerous and rules and punishments handed out should make teams and drivers dissuaded from doing dangerous things.
    10k Euro fine was pathetic.

    Personally I would have thought a drive through penalty should have been handed out.

  114. CHALKY: “Personally I would have thought a drive through penalty should have been handed out.”

    For a little mistake? Don’t get me wrong but i think this is a little crazy.

    And the problem is not that this is Massa or Ferrari. I can say that if Hamilton or Kubica or Mark Webber or any other driver or team was in this kind of situation i will still talking that no harm was done and no personal penalty for the driver is not neccesery. C’mon guys. Think a little bit.

  115. Well said Chalky.

    The idea that no-one should get punished unless someone is injured is frankly moronic. Unfortunately it is a side effect of the Schumacher generation who think nothing will happen and they have never seen someone seriously injured or killed. We all used to think the same before Ratzenberger died.

    As Keith said had action been taken when Piquet hit the wall at Tamburello we would not have been subjected to the sickening site of Berger sat in his car burning for thirty seconds burning before a marshall turned up. Had something been done after that accident Senna would not have died. That is how the sequence works. Irrelevant accident, serious accident then fatal accident. So you have to ask at what point the FIA should step in and take action.

    Mechanics have in the past been seriously injured because of cars colliding in the pits. Michele Alboreto springs instantly to mind.

    I deplore the attitude of the knee jerk tifosi who assume anyone who says anything that would result in Ferrari being punished is on a witch hunt. My interest is safety and only safety and I could not care less the colour of the car or the driver. I have seen more than enough people die and get seriously injured at motor racing meetings and I could live quite happily without seeing another. If an accident happens on the track that can’t be anticipated and someone dies that is a risk anyone who chooses to sit in a racing car at any level agrees to take but the idea that mechanics are big boys and know the risks is mind numbingly stupid.

    You cannot have cars racing in the pits full stop. The fact that the FIA allowed Raikkonen to race Kubica was plain wrong. Raikkonen should not have been released until Kubica was past. As with the previous example of Tamburello when one minor incident is allowed it generally follows that a more serious one will be allowed etc.

    McLaren played no part in this. The stewards decided it was dangerous and then ignored their own rules and that is a problem. No-one can possibly want to see rules made up ad hoc.

    So I ask the tifosi to take off their red spectacles and see the big picture as it could just as easily be your team as anyone else who is affected when a serious accident occurs.

  116. @Chalky well done, couldnt have said it better myself.

  117. I find it strange that the Red brigade, like the team itself, seem to attack any wrongdoings (minor or otherwise) by the other teams, and demand immediate sanctions and penalties, and stiff ones at that, yet when it comes to Ferrari making errors of judgement, causing accidents, injuring people (either their own or somebody else’s), they claim they are being picked on and that its all just a little incident.
    I’m not just thinking of this year, or this century. This appears to be the Tifosi attitude, and the Team’s attitude.
    In the end we will end up with a full season of racing with only Red Cars on the circuit, if the fans and the team manage to upset enough people. Do the Tifosi really want that?

  118. Alianora La Canta
    26th August 2008, 17:09

    gregoff, what I was trying to say was that the FIA had two options. Either they said the release was OK and provided no punishment at all (in which case fining Ferrari was an injustice) or they said the release was unsafe (in which case Ferrari should have received one of the punishments in Article 16.3). Either way, they have given the wrong level of punishment out.

    Some of us might still have whinged if no punishment was meted out. I would have because has Massa and Sutil collided the pits would have been blocked at best and the course car occupants would have been at risk at worst – note that Ferrari’s choice of the last pit garage meant that the pit lane workers themselves were (unusually) safe from the consequences. But the FIA would at least have been able to justify their decision. As it stands, they have merely contradicted themselves and attracted even more FIA=Ferrari vitriol than they would otherwise.

    Incidentally, had Sutil given way in the pits, it would have demonstrated that Massa had illegitimately impeded Sutil (since only the unsafe release put him in a position to be ahead of Sutil in the first place). This is against Article 16.1. This would have led to Massa receiving an Article 16.3 punishment on top of the one he should have received for the unsafe release (if the release was indeed unsafe). Adrian had even less power over the situation than Felipe, who could theoretically have stopped in the slow lane of the pits. (Granted, it would have been totally unreasonable for him to have done so in the absence of a pit signal, but the regulations would not have stopped him from doing so, nor would anyone else have been given a penalty through such action).

    The reason why there are four alternative punishments in Article 16.3 is that they have to cover every single possible regulation breach in a race, except for the ones which happen to have a different penalty attached (such as “causing an avoidable accident”, which is a disqualifiable offence). Short of assigning one punishment to each offence in turn, this is probably the fairest way of doing it – as long as the menu is sufficiently broad and is adhered to!

    As to the Ferrari system, the theoretical basis is good, but someone from Ferrari should have checked to make sure nobody was coming before hitting the button to say the coast was clear. Apparently someone is meant to do that, but it didn’t appear to work too well on Sunday.

    The pit lane isn’t wide enough for two cars at Valencia because that’s how the track was designed. They literally will not fit down the exit of the lane side-by-side. Most pit lanes do not suffer from this problem. Hence why Massa had to put on the brakes in the end.

  119. What a surprise!!!! NOT. Anyone expecting this FIA board to support anyone but Ferrari needs their head examined.

  120. FIA steward Alan Donnelly has defended the judgement, saying:

    “We watched the incident from every angle. I’m perfectly happy with the decision. Remember that Massa did not gain any sporting advantage.”

    This only hardens my view that the FIA stewards are ignorant of their own rules. The article Massa was punished under concerns safety, not sporting advantage. And I don’t believe he didn’t gain an advantage anyway, as explained above.

  121. That is what Donnelly is there to do. To push the stewards in reaching what Max calls the right decision.

    This is a safety matter and sporting advantage is irrelevant. Perhaps the despicable Donnelly can explain to us why Ferrari chose to release their driver into the path of another driver rather than wait until he has passed. Because they were trying to seek a sporting advantage. That is what F1 teams do. They push the rules as far as they can until the stewards decide they have gone to far and penalise them. I hope they have not set a precedent here that results in someone being injured or killed.

    What happened at Valencia was negligence by the stewards of the meeting. Now that Ferrari have had the advantage of this rulling I hope they clarify the rule to prevent a serious accident.

    It really is quite incredible how often the FIA invent new rules to benefit Ferrari. Aerodynamic blocking(only ever happened once-Ferrari benefitted), a part being illegal on the car at the track but legal on a jig on a different continent(only ever happened once-Ferrari benefitted), someone else’s measurement being given equal weight to the FIA’s(only ever happened once-Ferrari benefitted) etc etc etc

  122. No one brings this up… seems funny though… racing drivers in their war machinery have brought theirs closer to others’, sometimes even inducing contact. Most times we hail the b@##s(wouldn’t sound half as good Keith, if i didn’t use this. my apologies) of some guys(Montoya in recent past), for being brave(and somewhat ludicrous in their endeavour) to be honest. This(cars getting closer to each other in the pitlane) has happened more than once in F1, with no penalty in more than a decade(that i’ve been following F1) to any of the teams.

    I think some overzealous lot pressed the BIG RED BUTTON… then someone(probably some higher ranking official) thought… wait a minute, this has happened so many times before… how can they make it stick? As far as i know, all Ferrari would have had to do was to look over footage from races of past couple of years to get enough evidence corroborating the same, for the court of appeals to dismiss the penalty.

    I really have no problem with people suggesting that FIA has been inconsistent. However… when some people suggest that it was not the idiocracy of Hamilton in Canada, but it was Kimi and Kubica, who were driving dangerously, i really feel like questioning their intelligene quotient. So your driving god made a mistake… is the sky going to fall or will it bring apocalypse any sooner, if you admitted as much? Michael, Senna, Prost, they all made mistakes. It is human to err. Also, people will say whatever is beneficial to them(with respect to teams, drivers and who so ever else). They fool you once, shame on them. They fool you twice, shame on YOU!

  123. The collision in Canada was quit clearly Hamilton’s fault. Of that there is no doubt. But had Kimi not been in an illegal area there would have been no crash. Cars are not allowed to run side by side in the pits. The fact that the FIA has not enforced the rule is regrettable but Max only wants to be seen as being in favour of safety and the environment he doesn’t actually want to do anything about it.

    Had Hamilton not run into the back of Kimi and taken his normal place in the line then Kimi should have been penalised.

  124. Alianora La Canta
    31st August 2008, 15:03

    Hamilton would still have been driving recklessly whether Raikkonen had been forced into his path or not. However, had Ferrari complied with the regulations, Hamilton wouldn’t have hit Raikkonen (either he’d have hit Kubica or he’d have hit nobody at all) and Raikkonen would have scored at least six points. Since driving recklessly in Safety Car conditions (in the pits or otherwise) contravenes Article 40.7 of the Sporting Regulations, Hamilton would (or should) have been penalised anyway irrespective of whether his driving caused a crash or not.

    The point is that in the long run, inconsistent punishment of the unsafe release rule (and any other safety rule) hurts everyone, including those who benefit from the short-term leniencies. The FIA should bear that in mind next time it wants to avoid punishing a rule breach it has observed.

  125. So Massa followed a driver whom he was lapping….therefore he was not racing!

    Did Massa need to be so aggressive in the pit lane for contention and put himself and others at risk?

    I feel as though the FIA need to take a serious look at themselves; can Ferrari do no wrong?

    The FIA should be embarressed with their decision and realise that a rule of their own; is a rule.

    The fact is…no damge was done, BUT the FIA has got a reputation for penalising every other team but Ferrari.

  126. The fine is not right.
    That they reviewed it after the race is fine…
    But I expected a five or ten places grid penalty or such.
    Money doesn’t hurt that much for such a team!

    But it would have been very sad to see Massa lose a second race in a row, wich he deserved to win!
    (at that from a lewis fan ;) )

  127. Tiger Arizona
    19th October 2008, 12:01

    Please if you could answer this question for me- why is the grand prix races is not identicaly same distance, i.e the Chinese grand prix is 56 laps whereas the Brazilian grand prix is 71?

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