The FIA stewards have further muddied the waters about what an “unsafe release” from the pits is.
They gave a penalty to GP2 driver Bruno Senna for incident that was almost identical to the one involving Ferrari’s Felipe Massa at Valencia two weeks ago – when Massa got no penalty.
In today’s GP2 feature race at Spa-Francorchamps Bruno Senna was released from the pits alongside the Durango car of Alberto Valerio, just as Massa was released alongside Adrian Sutil. In a near carbon copy of the Valencia controversy, Senna drove alongside Valerio’s car before slotting in behind it. Senna, like Massa, was leading the race before his pit stop.
The FIA stewards described Massa’s move as “Unsafe release from pit stop, although no sporting advantage was obtained.” It’s hard to see how the same assessment does not apply to Bruno Senna.
After the Valencia incident Ferrari were told the matter would be investigated after the race, and then received a €10,000 (£7,979) penalty. It was clear they didn’t expect Massa to get a time penalty, as his lap times fell off sharply towards the end of the race.
But in the GP2 race the announcement very quickly came that Senna was being investigated, and he was shortly given a standard drive-through penalty. Senna’s team mate Karun Chandhok received a penalty under similar circumstances at Valencia, although in that case it was clear he had delayed a competitor. Senna did not seem to.
Afterwards Senna said:
I am really sad about the rules not being applied consistently. Nothing happened at Silverstone when I had to lock-up to avoid [Lucas] di Grassi, and Massa was only fined for what happened in Valencia.
On ITV’s coverage before the Belgian Grand Prix qualifying session ex-Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn was denied the FIA treat the Italian team leniently in such matters.
Ferrari don’t get special treatment, everyone else just gets unfavourable treatment.
This kind of inconsistency is precisely why so many people believe that.
As far as I’m concerned, both releases from the pits were unsafe, but only Senna got the correct penalty.
More on the Massa penalty: Fine for Ferrari, Massa gets off free and the FIA gets it wrong on every count
Update: GP2 feature race report – Romain Grosjean wins at Spa; Bruno Senna gets a penalty