Ross Brawn says FIA don’t help Ferrari. Senna’s GP2 penalty says otherwise

Bruno Senna, unlike Felipe Massa, got a penalty for his alleged unsafe release

Bruno Senna, unlike Felipe Massa, got a penalty for his alleged unsafe release

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.

Robert McKay on the F1 Fanatic Live Blog remarked:

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

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32 comments on Ross Brawn says FIA don’t help Ferrari. Senna’s GP2 penalty says otherwise

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  1. Paul Sainsbury said on 6th September 2008, 17:21

    Yeah, this needs to be sorted out quickly. Otherwise there will be an accident in the pitlane and no one wants to see that.

  2. Other handlings could be “usafe release” but marshals did not take any action against them, and team had not been fined. I think what happened in Valencia was not news, as it happened many times in the past, so I didn’t expect Massa was punished. Anyway, it’s time FIA clarify the rule: in Spa the pit-lane is very narrow. I don’t want an accident happens tomorrow in race :-(

  3. Robert McKay said on 6th September 2008, 18:10

    Oh, they’ll clarify the rule all right, probably when it’s a Ferrari that a car is being released into the path of.

  4. I watched the GP2 Senna pit lane race incident and frankly the stewards have been consistent in their inconsistency as per usual. I really think its amazing and if anything it has simply proved that Ferrari do indeed simply get preferential treatment… despite what people may say. Tut tut FIA

  5. OH god… not the tin foil hats again…..:o)

  6. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 6th September 2008, 18:39

    AC – presumably then you didn’t think Senna’s ‘unsafe release’ was similar to Massa’s? Can I ask why?

  7. ceedas said on 6th September 2008, 18:56

    I still don’t agree, although I do think they should clarify the rules regarding when cars can or should be released in the event of a car approaching in the fast lane.

  8. Was there any rule change after the Massa incident?

    I remember back in 2005 a similar incident had occurred. There was a safety car incident and Kimi was running close behind Montoya when the cars were called to pit. Kimi chose to drive from the exit of the track to the pits very slowly to avoid cars behind him getting an advantage and overtaking him, as he would have to wait behind his teammate. Kimi received a warning at the end of the race

    Fisichella repeated the act a race or two later and was given a drive thru penalty almost instantly.

    It was later known that FIA had instructed the teams to tell their drivers not to drive slowly to the pit entry. Back then even Fisi complained after the race that Kimi was getting preferential treatment.

    Later it was known that it was just a case of the team(Renault) not telling the driver what he could or could not do.

    Maybe this is a repeat incident. Even if its not the possibility that FIA hit hard on Senna can be to cut the possibility of drivers starting to bend that particular rule. Its not the first time FIA have excused the first usage of loophole in the rules and chosen to punish thereafter.

    PS: If Massa or Kimi (or is it Ferrari) do the same mistake again and go unpunished, then its probably acceptable to cry foul.

  9. Are we still talking about this?????

  10. Phil B said on 6th September 2008, 21:06


    Yes, but it’ll stop when the FIA starts being fair.

  11. “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.”


    You mean he wasn’t slowing down to conserve his engine, given the resent failures of his engine in the previous race, and only minutes before, Kimi’s engine failure?

  12. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 6th September 2008, 22:11

    TB – I’m quite sure he was slowing down to conserve his engine. But they wouldn’t have done that if they thought there was a threat of him getting a time penalty after the race had finished. Which, as Alianora pointed out in the other comment thread, was one of the penalties he might have received.

  13. Steven Roy said on 6th September 2008, 23:39

    The rule is crystal clear. If you release a driver who has to slow to let someone pass it is an unsafe release. If a driver already in the fast lane has to take any kind of avoiding action even if it is only lifting off the throttle it is an unsafe release. The only people who don’t understand it are Ferrari and the FIA.

  14. Jonesracing82 said on 7th September 2008, 0:55

    i honestly think the fact massa got away with his incident does set a dangerous precedent!
    all we all want is consistancy and only ferrari seem to get away with things that others get pinged for!
    hence y i hate them

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