Sutil and Raikkonen go unpunished after another clash costs Force India a point

Sutil was running in front of Rosberg before his crash with Raikkonen

Sutil was running in front of Rosberg before his crash with Raikkonen

Not for the first time, Force India were on course for their first points finish until Adrian Sutil had a collision.

And also not for the first time, that collision was with Kimi Raikkonen. But unlike Monaco last year Raikkonen is not to blame – and happily the stewards have decided not to punish either driver.

Having qualified seventh Adrian Sutil was predictably swamped by the KERS cars at the start of the German Grand Prix. But thanks to Lewis Hamilton’s puncture, the Force India driver was at least able to run eighth in the opening stages.

With more fuel on board than anyone in the top ten after qualifying, Sutil was well-placed, and stayed within around three seconds of Kimi Raikkonen. As the cars in front of him peeled into the pits one by one he was lying second by lap 25.

He had been 1.4s behind Raikkonen before the Finn made his pit stop, but on his way to the pits Sutil lost 0.6s to his rivals. As he came out of the pits on lap 27, the F60 was right alongside.

The pair went into the first corner together and Sutil stuck to the racing line. Raikkonen on the outside was, if anything, fractionally ahead, and the pair made contact, stripping off part of Sutil’s front wing.

That forced him to make an immediate return to the pits, wrecking his race.

Had Sutil not tried to force the issue with Raikkonen, where would he have finished? He was probably on course to lose a position to Nico Rosberg, who pitted after him, and finished fourth. The two Brawns were on Rosberg’s tail at the end of the race.

At worst, therefore, it looks like seventh place or better was on the cars for Sutil. That would have been Force India’s first point and Sutil’s second points finish, adding to the point he scored at Fuji in 2007.

Was either driver to blame for the collision? To me it looked like a racing incident – neither driver really gave the other enough room. It’s possible Sutil wasn’t entirely aware of Raikkonen’s position relative to his, but it’s his team’s job to keep him informed of that kind of thing.

Unusually, I agree with the stewards on this one. After the race they declared:

The stewards received a report from the race director which stated that an incident involving car number four – Kimi R?â?ńikk?â?Ânen – and car number 20 – Adrian Sutil – took place during the race.

The stewards after hearing the explanation of both the competitors representatives and the drivers decided that the incident requires no further action.

Do you agree with the decision?

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49 comments on Sutil and Raikkonen go unpunished after another clash costs Force India a point

  1. mattclinch said on 12th July 2009, 17:01

    i personally think raikkonen is to blame for this one. during the race we saw a lot of cars exiting the pits with heavy understeer and running very wide, raikkonen should have known this, he had no need to hang his car out around the outside, with kers and hot tyres he should have been able to breeze past sutil rather than try and hang on round the outside and risk a collision which ruined another drivers’ race.

    • mattclinch said on 12th July 2009, 17:04

      …and more to the point, this happened around mid race distance. why was the descision not made during the race? i can see no benefit in delaying the descision.

      • Andrew White said on 12th July 2009, 17:13

        As I understand it, the stewards were investigating it, but then Raikkonen retired, so he couldn’t be given a punishment in the race. For this reason, the stewards decided to leave it until afterwards.

        • Phil said on 14th July 2009, 9:11

          Actually they had already decided that it would be investigated afterwards before Raikkonen retired, it came up on the graphic straight away. Strange how many incidents involving Ferraris are investigated only after the race, when all others are applied during it. This happened a lot last year as well.

      • David A said on 12th July 2009, 17:15

        I don’t know how many people are going to fail to see that Raikkonen retired pretty soon after the incident.

      • klasbak said on 12th July 2009, 21:58

        It looked like a race incident, so there was no need for the stewards to respond during the race with a punishment.

        To me, it’s logical in a situation where it looks like a race incident, to dicsuss the matter with the people involved and base judgement on reviewing not only the footage, but also the comments from the drivers/teams. I just hope that the stewards really follow this logic.

        • Hell$torm. said on 13th July 2009, 5:01

          well if you look at the position of the cars when sutil exited the pits you can clearly see that raikonen can see sutil, weather or not adrian could see kimi, i don’t know, this acident is very similar to bourdais and massa at fuji last year.

          however i think that no peanalties should have been given out this race, the penalty on webber was pathetic, if the f.i.a wants good racing then they should allow some bumping around, neither car was damaged or lost substatial time from the action and i think it is just stupid

  2. I do think it was a blameless incident – although perhaps the precedent set by the Massa-Bourdais incident a while back suggest Sutil was lucky to escape punishment :)

    Where I do think some blame may lie, however, is that teams do seem to treat Force India cars as an irritating inconvenience that should know to get out of the way, whether it’s on pitbox release (Valencia last year) or today.

  3. Patrickl said on 12th July 2009, 17:35

    What I noticed was that Fisichella was in the TV picture when Sutil came out of the pit. It was all pretty close together.

    If Sutil had taken his place behind Raikkonen, he would have ended up just before Kovalainen. Maybe he would have finished in 8th place?

    On the other hand, maybe we could have had a nice scrap for 7th between Alonso and Sutil.

  4. sasbus said on 12th July 2009, 17:35

    I think that this was a simple race accident. I am quite surprised how we are not discussing the mess at the start performed by Webber.

    First he hits Barrichello
    then he taps Hamilton’s rear tire.

    Sadly this tainted his otherwise spectacular win.

    • Johnt said on 12th July 2009, 18:01

      He did cause that incident, he takes full blame for it and he was duly punished for it. Issue resolved. As far as I can see, there is nothing left to discuss.

      • Patrickl said on 12th July 2009, 18:35

        He wasn’t punished for Hamilton’s puncture. Not sure I’d blame Webber for that though.

  5. Alonso's fan said on 12th July 2009, 17:46

    It is not the 1st time Kimi hits Sutil . Sutil entered 1st in the turn and Kimi behaved as if it is car 1 lap behind . Had to be punish

  6. Nick said on 12th July 2009, 17:58

    Definitely wasn’t Kimi’s fault…but I’m sure the Kimi haters will come up will something.

    • Eamon said on 14th July 2009, 4:20

      I fail to see how Raikkonen could be held responsible for this incident. He was on the outside, all the way to the edge of the circuit and had his nose slightly ahead (otherwise his wheel couldn’t have hit Sutil’s front wing). He didn’t move abruptly; he simply held his line and they came together.

      If Kimi had just lifted off and let Sutil have the spot, then people would’ve accused him of going to sleep, or drinking too much vodka or something.

      I think any penalty for either driver would’ve been thoroughly undeserved. They’re racing, after all. But it’s a shame that Sutil missed out again.

  7. Hakka said on 12th July 2009, 18:07

    he was lying second by lap 25

    Just a typographical suggestion, Keith: It may be useful to use numerals like “2nd” for positions and full words “1 second” for time related stuff – that sentence threw me off for a second (sorry about the pun)! It’s probably just me though, so feel free to ignore.

  8. Joachim Michel von Grabner said on 12th July 2009, 18:13

    F1 racing has become as boring and as tiresome in value as Indy racing..
    Both venues pray on the unsuspecting..
    I found myself regarding European Touring Car racing as an exciting Motor-sport event giving the fans a real race feel without the baggage which F1 and Indy seem to be going from race to race..
    After decades of watching both sports, all they seem to come up with are tiring moments of routines much like watching Golf combined with the agonizing events of synchronized swimming…

    The people deserve better..
    nake motor racing watchable..

    An idea, enlist people from the Leman racing serious to
    toss ideas at Ecclestone and Mr *Porn* Mosley… When Schumacher left F1, boredom came..

  9. persempre said on 12th July 2009, 18:21

    Personally, I think it was a racing incident.
    The drivers spoke to each other after the race & accepted it as such. Apparently so did the Stewards.

  10. it’s just such rotten luck for Sutil, who was mighty impressive and FI deserve some points…. that’s racing

  11. Hakka said on 12th July 2009, 19:17

    I’m impressed by Sutil’s mature response and the comments from Force India’s management too. He and they could have milked this pretty well, but they’ve taken the high ground. Remarkable.

    • just me said on 13th July 2009, 21:32

      My sentiment too. I’m slowly turning from a STR underdog fan to a Force India underdog fan – they showed true class on several levels during the last few races ;-).

      As much as Sutil is continuing to impress me, I can’t get anything from Fisi’s driving.
      Maybe his spot should be given to another ‘likely-free’ senior driver next year (e.g. Rubens)?

  12. Alastair said on 12th July 2009, 21:16

    Neither driver gave way and one of them came off second best – end of story.

  13. The Limit said on 12th July 2009, 22:08

    ‘When Schumacher left F1, boredom came!’

    An interesting statement for all of us who experienced the 2002 and 2004 seasons, inwhich Ferrari and Schumacher blitzed the opposition and many of the grands prix were snoozefests.
    For that I blame the other teams and drivers, but no one can say F1 was that exciting to watch back then, compared to how it was in the late 1980′s and early 1990′s.
    As for the incident concerning Raikkonen and Sutil, I would say it was a 50/50. Both drivers wanted the corner, and both could have played it safe in order to protect there cars and positions. But they are racing drivers, not commuters, and it was a move that would always end in tears.
    I feel sorry for Sutil. After Monaco 2008 he must curse everytime he sees Raikkonen’s Ferrari in his mirrors. Up until that moment, the German had driven a very mature race.
    As for Raikkonen, his career appears in the mire. Yet again Felipe Massa out performes him, yet again another car lets him down. Tough break for both men.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 12th July 2009, 22:55

      Yeah I’d agree with that! 2002 and 2004 were the worst seasons of F1 for me. I’d say it’s gotten better since Schumacher left, partly thanks to Ferrari abandoning their ‘favoured driver’ policy.

  14. John H said on 12th July 2009, 22:19

    Why was this decided after the race, and the Webber penalty deciding during the race?

    Correct decision in the end IMO, do not the sporting regs say that at that time in the race (i.e. not near the end), the decision should have been made during??

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 12th July 2009, 22:47

      Why was this decided after the race, and the Webber penalty deciding during the race?

      Because the stewards are a bit of a shambles?

    • just me said on 13th July 2009, 21:46

      …do not the sporting regs say that at that time in the race (i.e. not near the end), the decision should have been made during??

      That would require them to actually work during the race.

      Their statement

      The stewards received a report from the race director which stated that an incident involving car number four – Kimi Räikkönen – and car number 20 – Adrian Sutil – took place during the race.

      paints the picture, that they aren’t even watching the race! They are just sitting there, twiddling their thumbs till the race director sends them some report.
      Then they say, “Oh schucks – not again another report!”, drop their beers and watch some replays. Then they call Luca and ask him what to do …

  15. Florida Mike said on 13th July 2009, 1:04

    FOX TV coverage reported that the stewards had declared, in a pre-race driver’s meeting, that cars on the track had the right-of-way to cars exiting pit lane, and that cars exiting the pit should slow or yield. If that were the case, it seems like Sutil could have received a penalty, but maybe the stewards saw him gain no advantage and let the results be the punishment.

    • What you said makes sense. And also is the fact that Kimi was out of the racing, so nobody fault is best solution, I guess.

    • Patrickl said on 13th July 2009, 9:28

      Bourdais got a penalty for exactly the same incident in a collision with Massa at Fuji 2008.

      Actually, in that case Massa still had plenty room to his left and could have given way. In this case Raikkonen was already pushed off track and had nowhere to go.

    • persempre said on 13th July 2009, 12:33

      Exactly so, Florida Mike.
      39.2 During the race, drivers leaving the pit lane may only do so when the light at the end of the pit lane is green and on their own responsibility. A marshal with a blue flag and/or a flashing blue light, will also warn the driver if cars are approaching on the track.
      ———-
      This happened right on the apex so I think it was more of a racing incident but, if push came to shove, it could have been argued that the onus was on the car leaving the pits (with low tyre temperature & lower speed) manoevre out of the way of a car which was in the braking zone at top speed.
      That could have ended with Sutil having a penalty in the next race which, quite honestly, probably nobody would have liked to see.

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