Oliver Turvey finished fifth in yesterday’s World Series by Renault race at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.
At least, he did, until the stewards slapped him with a 25 second penalty, leaving him a miserable 14th.
Turvey was penalised for going off the circuit while overtaking Marcos Martinez within sight of the flag. The incident occurred at Spa’s final chicane, scene of the infamous controversy between Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen had their battle in Formula 1 last year.
That Turvey went off the circuit while overtaking Martinez is indisputable. Whether he had the opportunity to avoid it is questionable.
But to give him such a harsh penalty is unjustifiable. Sadly, it reflects an ‘all or nothing’ state of mind on the part of stewards in charge of many major international series.
It was by no means clear whether Turvey had gained his place unfairly or not. The only reasonable punishment would have been to drop him back to sixth behind Martinez. If the rules don’t allow stewards to do this then the rules are wrong and must be changed.
This ridiculous state of affairs will only discourage drivers from trying to overtake each other.
Other series police this sort of thing much better: like the British Touring Car Championship, which simply instruct drivers to exchange places if it believes an unfair pass has taken place, as with Jason Plato and Jonathan Adam at Brands Hatch earlier this year.