Stewards take hard line on turn one

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

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32 comments on Stewards take hard line on turn one

  1. James_mc said on 23rd May 2009, 1:58

    I agree with the sentiments that they just cut the corner as an easy option. The simple solution to stop these problems would be to make the corners un-cuttable, such as big kerbs etc. I know at some circuits they put big polystyrene blocks to discourage this… not ideal at Monaco but perhaps simply re-instating the Armco would be an idea?

  2. dwp said on 23rd May 2009, 4:09

    I see two issues here.

    1) The stewards should never have waited till the end to award penalties.

    2) The corner is too easy to cut. Make it “costly” to cut. There have been a couple of good suggestions, speed bumps or the styro blocks they have to thread their way around. I think the blocks might not work due to insufficent room to bring the speed down to weave past them.

  3. Win7Golf said on 23rd May 2009, 4:47

    Here we go again.

    Be prepared to see some jerk off stuck from little grey men about things that will happened in Qualifying and in the Race at Monaco.

    Again, FIA shows its colors (dark) and changes results after events are over, people celebrate, and so on.

    If this keeps going on, like last year. I bet some of the teams that WILL EXIT FORMULA ONE at the end of the year, maybe they’ll go a little sooner…

    It’s unimaginable how everybody ALLOWS that MAD MAX to do whatever he wants without consulting, FOM, FOTA, the FIA Formula 1 consulting board (that has not been heard for years…) Somebody must have a way to stop all this lunacy and I mean solve the problem, not quit, like the ‘Scuderia’ has been threatening for some weeks.

    If the crazy man doesn’t bend, then break him – he must have so week stop – use it – this is war!

    If this was not happening I would never believe it could. We see some shitty stuff with the referees in soccer, we know some are bought, we know there’s a mafia ruling underneath, but in this case I think that all this can be resumed to ONE person – MAD MAX.

    He’s upset with personal problems, then Ferrari put FIA on the French courts (nice move, Mr. Luca…) and now he wants revenge! Its payback time for Mad Max e he’ll take everything he meets in its way… The man is not in not in his right mind.

    And speaking of Alzheimer’s, Bernie now threats to sue Ferrari if they quit for breaking contracts. Hey, old man – if they quit, they don’t’ give a flying **** about you or your money sucking greedy contracts.

    For me, THE LAST FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPION WAS LEWIS HAMILTON, YEAR 2008. The rest is some other thing…

    Nothing against Brown, everything against dictatorial super imposed rules that allow a small budget team to lap last year top teams. Remember, people have heroes, sponsors have teams they bet their money on to see them around top places and not struggling to go throw Qualifying 3… People have to think about all this, before changing budgets and a lot more just to allow 3 new teams in Formula 1, because none would come in, without that rule (I bet USF1 would anyway)…

    I would love 3 more teams, 6 more cars on the grid in all GPs, but together with the existing teams, not exchanging almost all of them for GP2 teams or worst…

    That will never be Formula One, even if they keep the name.

    I just hope the constructors already have in place a plan B and IF things can’t be solved in a consensual way, they will create a new single seat top series that will stay on top of FIA’s ‘F1′ series, in technological, earth friendly, engine technology, none of that nonsense of ‘x’ engines and ‘y’ gearboxes per season, and many more STUPID rules that have been introduced in the last few years, culminating with this year rules and next year preview…

    FIA sucks. All Motor Racer Clubs, from every country that has anything to do with Formula One such IMPOSE elections and a new way to rule over Formula One – with them in it and also the Constructors.

    This is not a kart race that can be organized by a group of friends to spend some good times. Theses are professionals that live of this, that LOVE THIS!

    It’s the Teams, the Drivers, the Engineers, the Mechanics, THE FANS!…


  4. The Limit said on 23rd May 2009, 4:57

    Didn’t we have a case last year in GP2 when Bruno Senna was given a penalty for an incident in the pitlane, and Felipe Massa was not for committing the same offence in an F1 race? Valencia if I am not mistaken?
    These things don’t always run in pairs, but after the events in Belgium I am left a little uneasy about stewards and their ‘ability’ to make decisions. This race coming up is the crown jewel of the season. To have it decided by the boys in grey suits would be too much to bare!

  5. tifosidude said on 23rd May 2009, 6:13

    On hulkenberg it’s hard to say. He should have backed off before the corner realistically, but he did lift to let petrov by on the run up the hill, which was fair (to open a really salty wound, it’s clear in the “spa gate” video on-board that Hamilton didn’t lift, but that’s in the past)

    I agree on some of the calls but it’s bound to happen if you open the corner. Some of the drivers took the line unfairly, but Hulkenberg and some of the one’s that were squeezed are a little harder to call.

    • Bernification said on 23rd May 2009, 15:37

      (to open a really salty wound, it’s clear in the “spa gate” video on-board that Hamilton didn’t lift, but that’s in the past)

      And that’s still rubbish.

  6. Damon said on 23rd May 2009, 10:01

    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.

  7. Bernification said on 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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