Schumacher’s Monaco penalty will stand after Mercedes withdraw appeal

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Mercedes canned their appeal but called Schumacher's penalty 'disproportionate'
Mercedes canned their appeal but called Schumacher's penalty 'disproportionate'

Mercedes have withdrawn their appeal against Michael Schumacher’s penalty in the Monaco Grand Prix.

However they described Schumacher’s penalty as “disproportionate” and said the FIA has agreed to discuss the terms of article 40.13 under which Schumacher was punished.

They added they were supportive of drivers having a role on the stewards’ panel. Damon Hill, who served as the drivers’ representative to the stewards last weekend, received hate mail after Schumacher was punished.

A statement from the team said:

On the final lap of the 2010 Monaco Grand Prix, Mercedes instructed our drivers, Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg, to race from safety car line one until the finish line as permitted under articles 40.7 and 40.11.

Mercedes were fully aware of article 40.13 which states that no overtaking is permitted if the race finishes under safety car conditions. However we believed that the combination of the race control messages ‘Safety Car in this lap’ and ‘Track Clear’ and the green flags and lights shown by the marshals after safety car line one indicated
that the race was not finishing under the safety car and all drivers were free to race.

This opinion appears to have been shared by the majority of the teams with cars in the top ten positions who also gave their drivers instructions to race to the finish line.

It was clear from our discussions with the stewards after the race that they understood the reasons for our interpretation and acknowledged that this was a new and previously untested situation but ultimately disagreed with our interpretation.

Mercedes would like to emphasise that we fully support the inclusion of past drivers on the stewards panel and are completely satisfied that the Monaco Grand Prix stewards acted professionally, impartially and properly in this matter.

The FIA has agreed to include article 40.13 on the agenda of the next Sporting Working Group for discussion and to consider the scale of post race penalties. We believe that the 20 second penalty imposed on Michael to be disproportionate in the circumstances.

Whilst we cannot be happy with the outcome, we are pleased that the FIA has recognised the reasons for our interpretation. Therefore in the best interests of the sport, Mercedes will not be submitting an appeal.

It’s interesting that Mercedes’ claim their view racing was permitted after the safety car went in “appears to have been shared by the majority of the teams with cars in the top ten positions.”

We already know Ferrari and McLaren instructed their drivers not to race at this moment. Presumably Mercedes is referring to Red Bull, Renault and Force India when it speak of the “majority” – these were the only other teams with cars in the top ten at this point.

Appeals against drive-through penalties (which is essentially what Schumacher got) have been deemed inadmissible in the past, most famously when Lewis Hamilton was stripped of his win in the 2008 Belgian Grand Prix. So it’s no great surprise to see Mercedes drop their attempt to have Schumacher’s sixth place restored.

Schumacher’s Monaco penalty

143 comments on “Schumacher’s Monaco penalty will stand after Mercedes withdraw appeal”

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  1. Like I said yesterday, even if this did break the rules, the rule should be canned.

    This makes F1 a laughing stock again, penalising a great move at the end of a largely processional race, for no good reason.

  2. There is nothing ambiguous and the rules shouldn’t be changed. They finished the race under racing conditions and Schumi overtook legally.

    Ferrari and McLaren team bosses should be made to write out a thousand times, “When you see the green flag you can race.”

    And the FIA officials should be fined ten grid positions at the next set of traffic lights for not understanding their own rules.

    Mercedes probably decided that it wasn’t worth the aggro to go through with the appeal. They won’t gain any points or anything.

    But a clarification of rule 40.13 and a bigger range of penalties might be very positive things to come out of this.

  3. The only that has come of this all is that the FIA have acknoweldge the fact that the rules as written leave a gigantic gray area and room for interpretation. I guess the fact that they write the regulations on car design they are accustom to writing rules with a variance of interpretation. However the rules regarding Racing on track itself should not be so gray. They should be black and white, with zero room for interpretation.

    1. the only “good”

  4. Let us vote on the Schumacher issue.
    I think its disgraceful.

  5. PRess, press and more press..what better way to get free advert for F1 in these tough economic times? To get MS’s name back out there even though he’s been taking awhile to get used to the merc…Have a controversy..and what better stage? Monaco….the fia couldnt have asked for better advertising.

  6. The funny thing is,this rule is there because of the bone head moves Schumacher did in the past…if this rule was not in forced Alonso would just RAM(Schumi NASCAR style) into Schumacher . It’s clear in the video replay Alonso gave room to Schumi ,when he could have just taken him out.

  7. The more I look at the regs, the more I think that they are not in the least bit ambiguous and that the stewards decision was simply factually wrong.

    Quoting clause 40.13 “If the race ends whilst the safety car is deployed it will enter the pit lane at the end of the last lap and the cars will take the chequered flag as normal without overtaking.” Is a red herring. Of course if Schumacher overtook while the safety car was deployed then he was guilty. The real question is WAS THE SAFETY CAR DEPLOYED or HAD THE RACE RESTARTED. And the rules on that are quite clear.

    The relevant rules are 40.4 and 40.6 which essentially say when the safety car is deployed it’s orange lights will be on, yellow flags and SC boards will be used

    So when Schumacher overtook Alonso were the safety cars orange lights on – No, Were yellow flags out – No, were SC boards out – No. ….. not much case there for the safety car being deployed

    On the other hand the procedure for restarting the race is also clear in 40.11,

    “the message “SAFETY CAR IN THIS LAP” will be displayed on the timing monitors and the car’s orange lights will be extinguished” and “As the safety car is approaching the pit entry the yellow flags and SC boards will be withdrawn and replaced by waved green flags with green lights at the Line.”

    So had the message “SAFETY CAR IN THIS LAP” been displayed – Yes, Had the cars orange lights been extinguished – Yes although a bit late, but they were off before the line. Had the yellow flags and SC boards been withdrawn – Yes, Had they been replaced by waved green flags – Yes

    That’s pretty conclusive to me.

    The big question must be to the stewards – ON WHAT GROUNDS given the above facts did you deem that the safety car was still deployed when the race ended….. because I can see no grounds what so ever…. but of course with a drive through type penalty there is no appeal allowed no matter what the facts AND the stewards do not have to justify their decision…..

    If you want to see the relevant regs in detail look here:

    1. I think its pretty simple: the race was not restarted because there were no more laps to run. A restart for race from the SC line to the S/F line is expressly ruled out by the same rule. And the reason it has to rule it out is because the SC is not out for that stretch, and the on track lights and flags indicating its presence are also not showing. The rule clearly and fully accounts for the situation and its purpose is clear. So the entire discussion of what lights were or were not on or what flags were waving tends to undermine Brawn’s point.

      Anyway, your interpretation forces 40.13 into nonsense. How does the race end while the safety car is deployed and its coming in on the last lap occur other than as happened in Monaco? It was the last lap, the safety car was deployed on that lap,and it came in. Brawn’s interpretion requires the SC to come in the proscribed situation, but have its lights and associated track indicators blazing anyway, in a silly and confusing formality. A formality already addressed and obviated by the clear command that there is no passing to the S/F line, which would otherwise be possible without this express exception.

      The fundamental issue here is that if the alternative interpretaiton of the rule makes it nonsensical, or superfluous, you lose. You cannot annihilate or contort into oblivion parts of the regulation simply because it is poorly drafted or unclear. You have to give it its most logical interpretation consistent with the rest of the rules and the situation it is intended to address. Brawns attempted interpretation is so grindingly formalistic that accepting it would likely destroy half of the sporting regs. This is not the BGB, after all. Its some rules made up for a sport. Picking it apart with tweezers will end in tears.

      1. There are two situations where the safety car can come in on the last lap:
        A) The track is clear and racing can re-commence, even if it is just a short distance.
        B) The race will run to the finish under safety car conditions.

        Assume there’s a driver far back who can’t see the safety car and his pit radio is broken. How does he know when it’s “Safety car in” i.e. “Start racing?” When he sees the waved green flags.

        By your interpretation of the rules, once the last lap commences under safety car conditions, it must finish under safety car conditions, and that is wrong.

        1. There’s a third possibility:
          C)The safety car itself has an engine problem/running out of petrol/whatever and needs to come in.

          The problem is the same: How do you indicate to the drivers whether they are now racing or still under safety car conditions?

          Answer: Via green or yellow flags.

      2. “A restart for race from the SC line to the S/F line is expressly ruled out by the same rule.” – where? I’ve looked agin at the regs and can’t see such a rule. And the race can easily end with the safety car out other than in monaco. E.g. if the safety car is out but has not yet picked up the leader and the leader takes the chequered flag. That fits the rule far better because then the race ends “whilst the safety car is deployed” not the race ends “with the safety car sat in the pits with its lights off”

        1. Well, let me quote what you cited:

          Quoting clause 40.13 “If the race ends whilst the safety car is deployed it will enter the pit lane at the end of the last lap and the cars will take the chequered flag as normal without overtaking.”

          This expressly rules out overtaking when the SC enters the pit lane at the end of the last lap. In Monaco, the SC entered the pits on the last lap. The one thing that specifically would not be allowed in this case is overtaking. It’s there in black and white. Do the rules on lights on SC boards say otherwise? No. 40.13 is what is known as an exception, set out by specific limiting conditions. Anyway, pointing to 40.11 as somehow trumping 40.13 in this situation necessarily wipes out 40.13—or it requires that the signals are showing when the SC is in fact not out, which is even sillier. The entire point of 40.13, second clause, is to make clear that there is no passing when the usual signals of that condition are not present, for the limit period of the lead car passing between the SC line and the S/F line.

          Regarding your hypo, sorry, but why on earth would the SC come out on the last lap— behind the leader? It would not be possible to “pick up the leader” until after the race was over. And even if it did, what would be the point of it then coming in at the end of that lap—triggering a situation where there would be no passing from that point forward? Again, your interpretation annihilates 40.13 all together, or at least its second half. A rational interpretation is always preferrable to striking out a rule completely.

          I get it that the rule makes a minor hash in stating the triggering condition as the race ending “whilst” the SC is deployed. And that this is your sole basis for claiming that the rule must be talking about some other unknown situation, or something. But, again, there is one and only one situation consistent with that rule: the SC is out on the last lap, and then it comes in on that lap, and when it does, no passing to the line. That’s what it says. It does not say, unless some lights are showing. Maybe it should say, “for the avoidance of doubt and notwithstanding 40.11 or any other otherwise inconsisent provision.” But these are the FIA sporting regs, not the Companies Act.

          And this is the problem with MSC again isn’t it? The man can’t get his advantage without actually erasing some segment of the regulations, but no matter. If they need a personal touch up, post-hoc, then so be it. Because he is bigger than the sport.

          1. Ruleset:
            40.4 ”
            When the order is given to deploy the safety car the message “SAFETY CAR DEPLOYED” will be displayed on the timing monitors and all marshal’s posts will display waved yellow flags and “SC” boards for the duration of the intervention.”

            Yellow flags and SC for the DURATION of the intervention. As there were no more yellow flags and no more SC boards the intervention, the safety car period, was over.

            END OF STORY.

          2. Dave, you seem to be missing my main point, which is, was the safety car deployed at the end of the race? If it was, then most of what you say and the penalty is correct. But my whole argument was to work out if it was deployed. Your assumption and I presume the stewards seems to be that because the safety car was deployed at the end of the penultimate lap then it was automatically deployed at the end of the last lap…. but that certainly doesn’t apply to any other lap, and the rules don’t say that or imply it in any way. I thought it was clear, and still do, but you obviously strongly think otherwise, so it can’t be.

            I’m no Schumacher fan, I’d be arguing the same if it was Alonso that had passed Schumacher, but I am a fan of racing and opportunistic driving.

    2. Jim, you’ve hit the nail on the head there!

      I have not yet seen even an *attempt* to justify the Steward’s decision using the regs … what can the Stewards have read into 40.13 that makes them think it was relevant in spite of 40.11, which was obviously followed to the full by Race Control?

      I just can’t put in words how fed up with the FIA I feel, for how they are letting F1 and all of its supporters down.

      1. Gary is right.The FIA are tainting the sport with their petty rules.
        Michael has brought so many fans back into the sport this year.
        Reubens acted like a child,throwing his wheel onto the track in temper,but no one writes much about that act!! I give up.

        1. “Michael has brought so many fans back into the sport this year”

          Well, I guess we should excuse Schumi from all the rules, and just give him the title on a platter.

          Think Schumi has gotten enough preferential treatment over the last ten years, I think its high time we had a level playing field, and see what the seven time world chump is actually made of.

  8. What does what Alonso did in La Racasse have to do with anything? This whole line of talk is like a mugger complaining that his victim was warily clutching her purse in the moment before his attack.

  9. Rule 40.13 only comes into effect if the race is actually ENDING under a Safety Car – it’s the same rule as has been around for a while, nothing complicated, nothing ambiguous, and nothing to do with the new SC line …

    Many races have ended in the past under a Safety Car, nothing new there either : no overtaking, there are waved yellow flags, and the SC boards are shown, and the Safety Car itself pulls into the pits instead of crossing the Finish line on the track, all as per 40.13.

    Rule 40.13 has not changed, and is not new, so why are people thinking that the addition this year of a Safety Car line changes it?

    The end of a race is when the cars cross the finish line and the chequered flag is waved – not at the start of the last lap, nor half-way through the last lap, nor when they cross a SC line … but when the cars cross the Finish line. Everyone knows that … don’t they?

    And, rule 40.13 very clearly states ‘END’ – so it is *only* relevant if the cars are to cross the finish line and take the chequered flag under Safety Car conditions, as has often happened in the past.

    But – all of the regs had been followed by Race Control to signal that the Safety Car period was finishing *during* the last lap at the SC line, so 40.13 was moot, and that therefore racing could continue from the SC line – remember, according the rules (not assumptions or personal preferences), the SC period ended when the Safety Car crossed the SC line after the teams had been informed it was coming in, the SC boards were removed and the green flags were waved (all as per 40.4 and 40.11) … whereas if 40.13 was in effect , as so many claim, then instead yellow flags and the SC boards would still have been shown (as per 40.4) after the Safety Car pulled in.

    Stop and think, go read the regs again, and see if there is ANY way you can show *by* *the* *rules* that the Safety Car period was still in effect at the end – I haven’t yet seen anyone even attempt to!

    So, do we all enjoy watching a sport where the people competing have to guess what the rules mean?

    1. very good points gary, that is how i feel, but i would have taken far far longer to come to those points :)

      It is simple really. You don’t want to allienate fans, or people new to the sport by reg 40.13 blah blah blah. Green should mean go, end of. If that is not appropriate, wave the yellows or red.

  10. Nathan damn good idea, last 2 laps shootout!! Poss Kabashi win??

  11. Brake Bias
    19th May 2010, 5:38

    Keith, the penalty was always going to stand no matter what.

  12. Commendable approach from mercedes, as their logic is impeccable, “track clear” and green flags, sounds like racing conditions to me. The rule book is a mess.

    3/5 is a majority btw.

    1. You are right, 3 out of 5 is a mayority (Mercedes, Renault, Red Bull), but from the top ten finishers we had 6 teams (or 7 with STR picking up a point after the penalty).

      2 of those have already stated that they fully agree with the stewards and STR as well as FI would hardly agree with bot handing in their points for the places gained.
      That makes it 3/6 or 3/7 after the penalty, not really a majority!

  13. Paul Graham
    19th May 2010, 9:29

    Clearly the real cock up was the FIA’s. If they had kept yellow flags out then there could have been no misinterpretation. For me Schumacher’s move was a wonderful bit of opportunism albeit made due to a mistaken belief that the green flags indicated that the race was back on from the safety car line. What the FIA should have done to be fair is say sorry guys you did get it wrong, but we can see why you throught that way, but as we contrubuted to the mistake we will simply reverse Schumacher and Alonso’s finishing results. That to me would have been fair.

  14. So Mercedes and the FIA agreed to “tidy up the rules”. In my mind though, there is nothing wrong with the rules. Articles 40.11 and 40.13 are perfectly clear.

    Where things went wrong is in how race control applied these rules.

    If race control had not sent the article 40.11 triggering “SAFETY CAR IN THIS LAP” catch phrase and at the very least kept the SC signs and yellow flags out, there wouldn’t have been an issue.

    Of course it would be nice if the rules allowed less severe penalties to be given after a race.

    Although that is likely to open a whole new can of worms on another occasion. Imagine the stewards getting the power to move a driver back as many places as they deem fit for the “crime”. The debates could be endless …

    1. The rules of the International Sporting Code already give them ability to hand out one of a rather large range of penalties, including a time penalty to be expressed in minutes and/or seconds.

  15. heres the view of another F1 hero on Schumis move.

    Moss would have done exactly the same seeing the green flags being waved.

  16. Ohh poor Damon.

    He thought he was there to advise, and ended up being the decision maker, which makes you think how organised this people are.

    I mean a driver is meant to be there as an experienced racer that would help avoid harsh and unfair penalties, not to decide the fate of fellow drivers.

    No driver will want the role of lawmaker/interpreter, is like betrayal form them.

    All that money and power and tecnology, yet the rules seem to be written by monkeys.

    BTW, well done Michael, you are as sharp as ever.

    1. Its not like damon decided the fate of Schumi, there were three others on that panel, and all went with the rule book and penalised him. If Schumi doesnt like the rules, then he should join another sport.

      “Michael as sharp as ever”

      Yeah right! Overtaking a driver who doesnt even know that they were racing. Great job Schumi, thats the last time you overtook Alonso in your career… too bad you got penalised for it.

  17. Schumacher pushed his luck a bit too far, the situation was pretty clear to everyone, even to the TV commentator. So far Schumacher seemed to be the only one that tried a overtaking move. Yes, there might have been the green flag, but some times people/marshals make mistakes, I have seen F1 race marshal waving blue flag to a slower car when he was actually on the same lap with the much faster car behind him, but if that happend to schumi he would have made room, wouldn’t he?

    The penalty may be harsh, but Schumacher is not be defended, got to use your head more often if you are already familiar with the rulebook.

  18. damon hill legend he really hates schumy why damon cant back in f1 what rivaly between them been in 90 s

  19. The more I think about it, the more I get p-ed off. The stewards have decided the race has apparently ended under 40.13, yet Race Control was then in clear breach of the FIA regulations.

    As viewers (and spenders on merchandise, race tickets, etc.) we are stakeholders in this as well. If we cannot judge the condition and regulations based on the information that is provided on our screens (no yellow lap counter, green flags at all outposts, green lights, and green status indicator at the timing monitors), at the track (flags and lights), how are we supposed to understand wtf is going on? By this decision of the stewards not only MGP is made to look stupid, so are we. They are pretending we massively misinterpreted the rules, whilst covering up the fact that they were in clear breach of their own regulations and the fact that in their stupidity they altered 40.7 without considering the effect this had on 40.13.

    Is there any way we, as stakeholders, can request or demand clarification of the FIA on the following mysteries:

    – The fact that the SC can be deployed when its not actually deployed;
    – The fact that green flags and track clear status can be used at the time the safety car is deployed;
    – Why 40.4 offers no exceptions on the yellow flags and SC boards if the above is true;
    [40.4 When the order is given to deploy the safety car the message “SAFETY CAR DEPLOYED” will be displayed on the timing monitors and all marshal’s posts will display waved yellow flags and “SC” boards for the duration of the intervention.]
    – How teams, drivers and viewers are supposed to know the current applicable regulations if ISC Appendix H, 2.4.1 is not used or superseded (by non-existent regulations?)
    2.4.1 General
    In the supervision of the road, the Clerk of the Course (or his
    deputy) and the marshal posts rely largely on the use of signals to
    contribute to the drivers’ safety and enforce the regulations.]
    – Why, with the leniancy (reprimand or no penalty at all) in case of other breaches of regulations in hindsight, for instance the following:
    * Hamilton’s weaving – clear breach of ISC appendix L, chapter IV rule 2b
    [2b) Overtaking, according to the circumstances, may be carried
    out on either the right or the left.
    However, manoeuvres liable to hinder other drivers, such
    more than one change of direction to defend a position,
    deliberate crowding of a car beyond the edge of the track or
    any other abnormal change of direction, are strictly prohibited.
    Any driver who appears guilty of any of the above offences will
    be reported to the stewards of the meeting.]
    * Rubens’ throwing of the steering wheel onto the racing line – in the very least a clear breach of rule 30.5 but must be in against the spirit of any safety regulations and general sanity;
    [30.5 A driver who abandons a car must leave it in neutral or with the clutch disengaged, with the KERS shut down and with the steering wheel in place.]
    * Lewis’ and Fernando’s overtaking with all 4 wheels over the pit entry – a clear breach of ISC appendix L, chapter IV rule 4
    [4. Entrance to the pit lane
    a) The section of track leading to the pit lane shall be referred to
    as the “pit entry”.
    b) During competition access to the pit lane is allowed only
    through the pit entry.
    c) Any driver intending to leave the track or to enter the pit lane
    should make sure that it is safe to do so.
    d) Except in cases of force majeure (accepted as such by the
    Stewards of the Meeting), the crossing, in any direction, of the
    line separating the pit entry and the track is prohibited.
    e) Except in cases of force majeure (accepted as such by the
    Stewards of the Meeting), any line painted on the track at the
    pit exit for the purpose of separating cars leaving the pits from
    those on the track must not be crossed by any part of a car
    leaving the pits.]
    * unsafe release of cars after pit stops throughout the races before Monaco – clear breach of rule 23.1j of the F1 sporting regulations
    [23.1j) It is the responsibility of the competitor to release his car after a pit stop only when it is safe to do so.]
    * and so on.

    – such a draconic penalty was handed out whilst the stewards had a wide range of more suitable penalties at their disposal due to the ISC;
    – Why an ex-driver, who is supposed to be an advisor on driving ethics and experience, is consulted for the interpretation of regulations;
    – Why 40.13 was not amended this year, as its effect is clearly changed by the change in 40.7;
    – Why the strict procedure of 40.11 (indicating the SC leaving the track because the obstruction was cleared) was followed whilst actually 40.13 [Which in the absense of any defined procedure must solely rely on 40.4 (to indicate the deployment of the safety car), 40.1, 40.3, 40.5, 40.6, 40.7, 40.8, 40.9, 40.10, 40.12 (general safety car prescriptions)] was in effect;
    – Why a driver, a team (and the audience – changing the results after the race has finished) has to pay for the general mess created by the contradiction between the procedure followed by RC and the apparently executed regulations as defined in the FIA F1 sporting regulations;
    – Why the appealability of the penalty inflicted (when inflicted after the race) is at the sole discretion of the Stewards of the meeting.

    Is there any way to make them explain themselves?

    1. Why, with the leniancy (reprimand or no penalty at all) in case of other breaches of regulations in hindsight […] such a draconic penalty was handed out whilst the stewards had a wide range of more suitable penalties at their disposal due to the ISC

      I’m not clear what alternatives you think they had under the International Sporting Code. Certainly under the Sporting Regulations they could only give a drive-through/time penalty or grid drop.

      I agree they should have given a more lenient penalty and I’m glad of the less severe punishments we’ve seen this year. But I don’t see how it was possible in this instance.

      1. The Sporting Regulations are in addition to the International Sporting Code.

        In the International Sporting Code, 152, a whole range of possible penalties is described:

        − reprimand (blame);
        − fines;
        − time penalty;
        − exclusion;
        − suspension;
        − disqualification.

        It is under these regulations penalties such as speeding fines, or a fine for not putting the steering wheel back in place after a crash, or in Hamiltons case a reprimand are handed out to drivers or teams.

        1. In addition: this is part of the code (penalties is 152 and 153):

          Time penalty means a penalty expressed in minutes and/or
          Any one of the above penalties can only be inflicted after an
          enquiry has been held and, in case of one of the last three, the
          concerned party must be summoned to give them the opportunity
          of presenting their defence.

          So, as you can see a time penalty of even just enough to swap back the places was an option they have not used.

  20. most comments on the topics with Schumacher.absolutely amazing is this man.GO SCHUMI !!!

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