Stewards take hard line on turn one

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Behind Grosjean, H???lkenberg and Petrov are side-by-side

The stewards at the Monaco Grand Prix have set an important precedent ahead of Sunday’s Grand Prix by giving eight GP2 drivers 25-second penalties for cutting the first corner on lap one.

The tough penalty has played havoc with the finishing order of this morning’s feature race. Lucas di Grassi, Nico Hulkenberg, Javier Villa, Roldan Rodriguez, Edoardo Mortara, Luca Filippi, Kamui Kobayashi and Dani Clos all had 25 seconds retroactively added to their race finishing times.

Among other changes, di Grassi was relegated from third to fourth, H???lkenberg from fourth to fifth, and Javier Villa lost eighth place (and, with it, pole position for tomorrow’s sprint race).

The ruling is surprising for a number of reasons:

Although all the transgressions took place on the first lap, the penalties were not handed down until after the race.

At past Monaco Grands Prix stewards have conspicuously failed to penalise drivers for gaining an advantage by cutting the first corner. Two years ago Takuma Sato and Christijan Albers passed Anthony Davidson at the start by cutting the first corner, and went unpunished.

On this occasion it does not seem as though all the drivers implicated gained advantages by cutting the corner.

Autosport’s write-up of the story quotes Andreas Zuber saying: “I think Nico [H???lkenberg] took advantage because I was already side-by-side with him.” It certainly did not look that way from the video I saw of the race and the picture above shows H???lkenberg side-by-side with Vitaly Petrov, not Zuber.

Since the barriers at the inside of Ste Devote were removed six years ago we have seen fewer first-lap accidents at the corner but also more instances of corner-cutting. It seems to me that if a driver cuts a corner there is no need to punish him unless he gains an advantage.

And if he does gain by cutting the corner, the correct punishment should be to yield that advantage back, not an arbitrary 25-second penalty which makes a mockery of the finishing order of the race.

Once again the FIA’s race management procedures is found badly wanting. This problem isn’t confined to F1, it happens in other championships too.

There will be no uproar on this occasion because it ‘only’ involves GP2 drivers. But it could just as easily happen again with an F1 driver (probably Lewis Hamilton) and it’ll be ‘Spa-gate’ all over again

32 comments on “Stewards take hard line on turn one”

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  1. Haha, oh my god – the GP2 replay, that was ridiculous!!!

    They didn’t even attempt to make the corner!!

    I would stop the race and restart it. That was really a JOKE. Look at the third car going into the first corner, later you’ve got his on-board camera – a dirty cheater is what he is!

    They should have placed a row of plastic cones, because without it there was no gamble in cutting the corner.
    And as regards the penalty – for things like this, the most adequate penalty is the drive-through penalty. You still lose more than you could ever gain.

  2. Bernification
    23rd May 2009, 15:33

    As many have pointed out, there was no attempt by many to make the first corner. The view that ‘they cut the corner to avoid an accident’ is cobblers.
    They cut the corner to avoid compromising their exit speed.
    One thing that has made me a little unsympathetic to Vettels cause was his Magny Cour behavior- to leave his foot in when he knew Hamilton was in front and then cry foul, but lap after lap he out broke himself and cut across the chicane to stop Kovalleinen passing him in Canada.

    I think it has just got to a point where the stewards have drawn a line in the sand and said enough. OK, many of you are complaining that it’s too harsh a decision. I GUARANTEE that nobody will do this lightly again all season.

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