Romain Grosjean, Lotus, Hungaroring, 2013

Lotus unhappy with Grosjean’s “very harsh” penalty

2013 Hungarian Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Romain Grosjean, Lotus, Hungaroring, 2013Lotus team principal Eric Boullier criticised the drive-through penalty given to Romain Grosjean for his overtaking move on Felipe Massa on the outside of turn four during the race.

“I feel this penalty was a little bit too much,” said Boullier after the race. “He had nowhere to go, he was a little bit four wheels on the track, just for a couple of centimetres and obviously it’s very harsh, when you get such a penalty, to recover when you’re fighting for the podium.”

“The Ferrari is just next to him so he would have crashed or lose obviously most of the time,” Boullier added. “There is a clear rule, of course. Obviously it’s in our favour if there’s no penalty but I think the penalty itself is a bit harsh for that.”

The stewards ruled that: “In order to overtake car four [Massa], car eight [Grosjean] left the track. This overtaking move would not otherwise have been possible.”

Boullier appreciated the difficulty of the decision the stewards faced and said: “I have to pay tribute to them, to be honest, it’s difficult to draw the line, obviously.”

“It’s a harsh penalty for what we could say a brilliant move. In other situations it could be a normal penalty and understandable. But I will have a word with them when I’ve cooled down a little.”

Grosjean said he thought he had “at least two wheels on the white line on the track” when he made the move.

Boullier praised Grosjean’s performance in the race: “He obviously had high ambitions at the beginning of the race but this is a race and I was just telling him he did a super weekend again. Nothing wrong, no foot wrong, and two in a row now.”

“It means he understood what he built up since the beginning of the season and building up over last year as well. And clearly now I think he has the baseline to build a strong weekend like this and fight wit the kids like Kimi and Alonso and Vettel so that’s pretty good.”

Grosjean has also been summoned to see the stewards along with Jenson Button following contact between the two during the race.

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66 comments on “Lotus unhappy with Grosjean’s “very harsh” penalty”

  1. its FIA, what you expect??

    1. He took a penalty or the wrong action I think

      1. just for reference, did Perez or Button get any penalties for their wheel-rubbing in bahrain? When’s the last time someone got that?

        1. Nope but McLaren won’t complain about McLaren … Here there must be a reclamation from Ferrari or something to launch a procedure.

          1. Yeah just like the Alonso vs Hamilton issues at Mclaren where one was penalized for cheating the other… Stewards shouldn’t take requests when it comes to rules.

      2. @jeff1s Yep, I think the same. While it’s questionable between leaving the track or being pushed off the track by Massa which should let a car width (while Grosjean was already next or ahead of him), and the pass was really great there. Doesn’t deserve a penalty to me.
        But with the Button incident, he bumped into Button before continuing straight into the chicane without giving the position back. That deserves something… And he could have break in the inside and kept the position without bumping into Button, I’m pretty sure. Except that, excellent drive from Grosjean, unfortunate to have those little moments

    2. FIA and overtaking rules are complete joke.. And because of their huge failures through last decades, they had to introduce DRS. It would be totally unnecessary if they would be able to judge reasonable driving standards :-(

      Vettel didnt get even warning when he was out of the track every second lap. And then Grosjean got penalty when Massa basically pushed him out of the track. I think Grosjean deserved penalty when he hit Button and when he cut chicane when passing Button (without giving pos back). But its just joke to give penalty because of that great overtaking manouver :-(

      1. +1 to that Loko

        Vettel didnt get even warning when he was out of the track every second lap.

        1. Alex (@korbendallas)
          29th July 2013, 14:19

          @cab825 There’s a big difference between taking corners wide and not gaining an advantage (that’s why the astroturf is there) and completing a pass completely off the track then having the inside line for the next corner. Mainly that one is against the rules and the other isn’t.

          1. Can’t agree with that Alex, we constantly hear from the commentators (DC mostly) saying outside the lines is outside the track. We saw Vettel (in his last dash frustrations mostly), and others by the way, outside the track limits. I am not saying what is right or wrong or who should or should not be punished, just agreeing that leaving the track is not enforced as much as it should be. My understanding was that the only place it was considered OK was in Italy (not really OK but that the FIA turned a blind eye).

            Let’s be clear (and honest), any car leaving the confines of the track is, potentially, gaining an advantage (in raw lap time) but the rules are only enforced when there is a glaringly obvious advantage gained during an overtake (like we saw on the weekend).

            I do not see how there is a difference between the two and don’t know why it is not enforced (maybe it can’t be, don’t have the FIA regs at hand).

            It all creates some exciting racing though (and something to talk about).

          2. Isnt it against rules to push other out of the track? Well, its FIA so it isnt.. Grosjean stayed beside Massa throught the corner so.. If we used some common sense, Massa should have leave room on exit. But its FIA & F1 so he can just push other guy out and that other guy get penaltized :-D

  2. Tough luck. It was harsh…

    But I’d be unhappier with the way Grosjean f’ed himself up so unnecessarily by ploughing into JB… There I was talking with a friend about how confident RoGro looked today, and much well he was attacking Vettel, and bang…!

    1. Pretty much that @fer-no65!

    2. @Fer-no65 Wouldn’t you call that cutting him off and causing Jenson to plow into his Lotus thus “ploughing into Grosjean”? I still say it is Grosjeans fault but I’d call it cutting Jenson off, and I feel the irritation comes from driving off track and making up position, rather than being called up after the race for contact with the McLaren. Either way Grosjean has some amazing moves and then some not so amazing, and that is what really seems to hurt his chances at a win.

  3. I’d wager it was meted out mostly because of reputation.

  4. Grosjean deserved a penalty for the incident with Button..his pass on Massa was outside the rules, but only by a bit..

    1. I think the pass on Massa was phenomenal and honestly Massa well behaved giving him some space. 10 years ago he would have gone away with it and with merit. Grosjean was awesome today

      1. @nuvolari71

        10 years ago he would have gone away with it and with merit. Grosjean was awesome today

        I think Michael Schumacher was thinking pretty much the same thing at Jerez ’97.

  5. I second… it was definitely a harsh one…..

  6. I remember Nico Hulkenberg passing two cars last year in Korea while his car was completely outside the whites lines. Those two cars where the McLaren from Lewis Hamilton and ironically the Lotus from Romain Grosjean.

    Nobody from the stewards did ask a question about it of gave a penalty.

    1. FIA = Ferrari International Assistance
      It’s a known fact that the FIA pays attention to penalise every wrong deed done against Ferrari. If it’s against antoher team, the penalties are less systematic, and less harsh I have the impression.

      1. give us break, will you? You are lecturing, cheering for a team which is well known for the biggest scandal people has heard in F1 history? Seriously?

  7. Chris (@tophercheese21)
    28th July 2013, 16:36

    I my view, he should have been penalised for his move on Jenson.

    I think maybe a drive through is a little harsh, considering he was only about 10cm over the white line. I know you have to draw the line somewhere, but that’s such a difficult corner when your by yourself, let alone side-by-side at 150mph.

    I think he should have gotten a reprimand for his “deemed illegal overtake”, and should definitely be penalised for pushing JB off the track.

    1. His incident with Button is still under investigation, this is a separate incident. And I disagree about the harshness. It doesn’t matter whether you’re 1cm, 10cm or 1m over the line. He was fully over the line and therefore outside of the boundaries of the circuit. They all know the rules and he really should’ve returned the position. And it really doesn’t matter whether it’s a difficult corner, or whether he was forced to do so by lack of space.

      1. so why does no one get a penalty for going over the white lines after an overtake at the chicane at canada, they all do it.

        Why dont they get pens when they do it on their own, its still gaining an advantage. The race result is who gets the end of the 70 laps in the quickest time will all cars starting on the track at the same time. It should make no difference if you gain an advantage while another car is with 10meters of you or if you totally alone. Time gained outside of the rules should be punished regardless.

        1. Michael Brown (@)
          28th July 2013, 18:42

          The FIA will tell drivers when it’s acceptable to go off the track, like Monza.

  8. Grosjean left the track while overtaking Massa and never returned the position. What did they expect at Lotus? A slap on the wrist? If he had returned the position, there wouldn’t have been an issue; except he didn’t, hence the penalty.

  9. What? I thought is was for the move on Button where he did shortcut the chicane. This one was pretty awesome and nowhere near the gain he had in the chicane with Button.

  10. Rui (@ruicaridade)
    28th July 2013, 16:50

    Did he infringe the rules or not? If so it wasn’t harsh it was the right thing to do.
    Grosjean won’t learn.

    1. @ruicaridade Yes he broke the rules

      20.2 Drivers must use the track at all times. For the avoidance of doubt the white lines defining the track edges are considered to be part of the track but the kerbs are not.
      A driver will be judged to have left the track if no part of the car remains in contact with the track.
      Should a car leave the track the driver may rejoin, however, this may only be done when it is safe to do so and without gaining any advantage.
      A driver may not deliberately leave the track without justifiable reason.

      1. Well Massa’s endplate was in-between Grosjean’s LF and LR tyre, justification enough.

        1. And Vettel is consistently breaking that rule. Its silly its ok to go out of the track when you are alone but if some one push you out of the track, you get penalty :-D

  11. I suppose for the button incident he deserved the penalty – but as a principle I don’t like penalties for silly things like that. What’s the point? Deters drivers from taking risks in my opinion. Perhaps some would say that a good thing.

  12. This is a joke. I really want to know who the nominated ex-driver who was assisting the stewards was – he clearly deserves the sack. Merv’s response above is spot on for why it was within the rules – the “justifiable reason” allowed for in the rules was that Grosjean wanted to stay alive! If they had touched wheels, it could have been a massive accident at the speed they were doing – about 130mph I think. So this ruling effectively enforces what would instead have been very dangerous driving, as he would have had to cut up Massa – making it almost impossible to avoid an accident between two cars in such a narrow, tight radius, high speed kink like this one. So if the steward’s decision wasn’t in aid of safety, then was it instead for fairness? I thought it was the finest execution of an overtake I’ve seen all year, he was clearly ahead by the apex, and was skillful enough to not take Massa out, so surely he deserved the position?

    To add further insult, if you watch on I think lap 57, Vettel took that corner on his own, and with all 4 tyres went over and past the white line exactly the same distance as Grosjean had, and on that lap set the fastest lap of the race up to that point. He both gained an advantage and had no justifiable reason to leave the circuit. Anthony Davidson confirmed his going over the line post race, but sadly didn’t show it again. He also said he’d seen Webber do it too.

    Incidentally, I agree over Grosjean’s penalty with Button – sadly it was a clumsy error by him.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      28th July 2013, 18:03

      It was McNish. I really like the guy but I don’t understand this.

      I disagree about the penalty with Button – that was completely a racing incident. Button actually turned into Grosjean and I definitely do NOT believe that Button would have deserved a penalty for such a small infraction.

      It wasn’t like Massa’s turns into Hamilton in 2011 for which sadly Hamilton was penalized although Massa could clearly have avoided the incident or closed the opening earlier to defend…

      1. That was the most ridiculous;y undeserved penalty I have seen in F1. That was about the closest I have come to throwing the remote at the TV, and I am not even a Grosean fan. I expect better from McNish, but after this I have lost a lot of respect for him. McNish has gone beyond the outside of the track for passes before. Even Massa now says that the penalty was undeserved.

  13. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    28th July 2013, 18:00

    Unless the FIA can produce a picture of Grosjean with 4 wheels off the track, then they need to face investigation because Grosjean was the only driver capable of beating Lewis today as everyone on NBC Sports said. As much as I wanted Lewis to win – it’s been 8 months if since his last victory, it is unconscionable for the stewards to interfere with such a gutsy pass.

    If the FIA wants passes to only occur in the DRS zone, then they need to make that a rule and that’s the day we can all stop watching F1.

    What is the penalty for costing a driver the chance at his 1st and possibly only F1 victory? I am a huge critic of Grosjean but this was ridiculous. The poor guy can’t catch a break – he drove brilliantly today.

    1. Michael Brown (@)
      28th July 2013, 18:44

      Do you think the stewards should have looked the other way because Grosjean could have won his first race?

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        28th July 2013, 20:45

        Doesn’t the car nedd to have all 4 wheels for it to be a penalty? If the car’s 2 wheels are in, then the stewards should not be giving fake penalties.

  14. I agree with both of Grosjean’s penalties. The overtake on Massa was clearly illegal with Grosjean having all four wheels off the track, I don’t see how anyone can argue against that.

    The incident with Button was just another example of Grosjean being careless whilst in wheel-to-wheel combat, he tried to cut in front of Button but he didn’t look to see where he was.

    1. Daniel (@collettdumbletonhall)
      28th July 2013, 20:37

      He wasn’t given enough space by Massa to have wheels on the track and he was only millimetres off. Given the context (blind corner and lack of space) it’s not worthy of any penalty.

  15. On the drive-through, I think Grosjean can feel very aggrieved. The alternative would have been to turn into Massa or lift off in a place the other driver would not be expecting, both with the potential to cause a colossal accident. While Grosjean may have gained an advantage, and broken the rules, it’s one of these things where giving a slap on the wrists would have been appropriate. If you penalise every minor breach of the rules like that you would be handing out an insane number of penalties every weekend (like how Hamilton may have overtaken Webber by driving him off the road late on) and the whole thing would be a farce.

    On the flipside, the collision with Button was daft at best and very reminiscent of the chop on Hamilton that triggered the shunt at Spa last year which earned him a race ban. It’s not so much that there was any intent to take Button out, he just seemed to assume that Button would vaporise on the spot. The resulting collision was entirely avoidable, and though a drive through may have been harsh considering it had little effect on either of their races I would have entirely understood the decision to award one. As it is, a 20 second penalty amounts to about the same thing.

    1. I second any call for the Massa move to receive a reprimand only – it was a brave move executed without contact and he even had room to spare. For me, if Massa had been 2 wheels over the line himself, then fair enough – but the replays suggest GRO could’ve been more on the track and that MAS wasn’t squeezing. GRO is only going to feel victimised from this and that he can’t put a foot right.

      However, I see the BUT move as the passing driver intimidating once past. ALO has done this and come very close to pitching other drivers off – see Canada this year and I think in Germany. Like HAM a few years ago in Spa lapping one of the Saubers. It must be shut down and hard imo. The rule should be changed to stop passing drivers steering the wrong way on entry to a corner.

  16. @keithcollantine It’s coincidental that we have this penalty the week after the one in Laguna Seca, but my view remains the same, if you go outside the track to avoid contact you shouldn’t be penalised.

    1. Who says he couldn’t have staid left a little? Looked more like he was simply going to fast in order to get the extra speed to overtake.

      Where do you draw the line? Could the drivers just ram into a chicane waaay to fast and say they had to cut the second part of the chicane or fly out of the corner to “avoid an accident”. Many have tried (for instance Hamilton on Vettel in Magny Cours and Alonso on Kubica at Silverstone), but they all got slapped with drive-through penalties.

      Its always the same “I was already past and I had to avoid a crash”. Thing is they were going too fast and couldn’t keep it on track. Which is an unfair way of overtaking.

      Of course it’s even more clear when they simply go off track on purpose to pass another car. Like when Vettel pulled around Button in Germany simply accelerating past using a wider line.

  17. Finally he gives some space to the other car and it’s no good either. Damned if you do damned if you don’t.

    Still, it’s a clear rule though. You have to keep it on the track when overtaking and even after it’s done.

    1. +1

      If he’d kept two wheels within the white line and Massa had made contact, people would say its Grosjean’s fault for not leaving enough room, and he’s got previous form and all the other rubbish. Harsh penalty.

  18. Michael Brown (@)
    28th July 2013, 18:52

    How the stewards should handle illegal overtakes:

    Tell the driver to give back the position.

  19. Deserved penalty (penalties) or not, the thing is if I were Boullier I’d still slap Grosjean senseless over the back of his head simply for constantly managing to put himself into various situations where it’s extremely easy for the FIA to bash him with everything they’ve got.

    Both moves were “legal on the borderline of illegal situations” and the FIA decided against him when it probably shouldn’t have. That has happened before and will happen again in motorsport. Tough luck.

    If Grosjean would have taken less risks with both Massa and Button and raced under the stewards’ radar, like others constantly manage to, Lotus would have nothing to complain about right now.

  20. I gather the drivers were warned about overtaking with wheel off the track at turn 4 in the drivers briefing Pre-race, If true then that penalty is harsh but probably ultimately fair given they were warned about it beforehand.

    As for the incident with Button, Justified penalty given the regulation change last year stated hat if another driver has a significant part of his car alongside you, You have to leave him at least a car’s width of room.
    Regardless of the contact, Grosjean didn’t leave Button room while Button was still alongside & therefore the penalty was fair.

  21. For me the real problem with this decision is, like many of you pointed out, that Vettel (and others?) left the track with having far less reason to do so and that he didn’t even get a warning for that.
    Double standards clearly.

    1. It’s looked at more sternly when pulling off an overtaking move.

      1. If so, then the stewards are not doing their job properly.

  22. The Perez incident in Monaco went unpunished and he repeatedly had no intention of staying in between the white lines .

    If you compare Perez at Monaco to romains overtake on massa it seems romain was unlucky, or maybe Perez was lucky not to get a penalty

    1. I think Perez was very lucky to get away without more penalties or a race ending crash in Monaco.

  23. I agree with the penalty, and here is why. The WHITE LINES define the track. During the the British GP, Coulthard mentioned that over the years it has become accepted practice for the drivers to go beyond the white lines and use the kerbs. It is time for that to stop. The Kerbs should be there to help the drivers see the corners of the track, but they should be penalized for going beyond the white lines.
    Simple rule, keep all four wheels within the track.

  24. Has everybody forgotten that Massa’s front wing was practically touching Grosjean’s sidepod? What was he meant to do? Ram into Massa to stay on track? What a joke. I’m so sick of this circus. ‘Racing’? Pah.

  25. I don’t know what all the controversy is about.

    As has been repeated over and over again:
    “If there was Armco instead of runoff, the pass would never have happened.”

    If you have to go off track to get past, then you haven’t got past. If you cut a chicane to get past or finish a move, you haven’t got past. End of story.

    “I like the move/driver/what it contributed to the race” isn’t relevant.

    Grosjean hasn’t been as bad this year with misjudgements as previous years, but the wheel-banging with Button indicates he still isn’t quite there yet. While it was a spacial misjudgement any driver could possibly make, the subsequent cutting the chicane should have been obvious to a more mature driver/team manager that they’d at least be expected to check should they give the place back.

    You could make an argument the result was harsh, given that other drivers have banged wheels plenty of times in the past, but other drivers haven’t caused multiple car pileups which almost killed people by swiping around the track during the opening laps without having a clear idea where other cars are and what they’re doing. So I don’t buy into the “harsh” judgement.

    The Massa incident was as straightforward as it is possible to get. His car was off the track by practically the width of the kerb.

    1. David James
      30th July 2013, 14:19


      You are technically correct.

      However, RG was ahead of Massa as shown from the TV shots as you could see the front wing of Massa’s car around RGs side pods.

      So did Massa actually push RG wide or did RG move wide to avoid contact with Massa? RG had the outside line.

      If this was a street circuit and there was a wall there, would RG have attempted the move and if so would Massa have given him more room?

      My issue with this ruling is that it could force drivers to stop overtaking on the outside as it gives the other driver the ability to force an illegal move by positioning the car. In this case, it was so marginal but both drivers were in control and it was not a reckless banzai move that I would have let it pass.

  26. I’d like to quote Massa on the incident:

    “If he took the penalty because of what he did with me, that’s completely wrong,” said the Ferrari driver.
    “He didn’t go four wheels outside, he went with two wheels. Two wheels is possible.”

    1. Massa is wrong, Grosjean clearly had 4 wheels outside the white lines.

      they showed some in-car shots on sky & paused the shot, it clearly showed 4 wheels off the track, penalty is fair.

  27. Michael Brown (@)
    29th July 2013, 2:02

    How about the rule clarification the FIA brought in last year stating the rules for being alongside? Pretty sure they said you can’t push a car off the track when it’s alongside (and Grosjean held it alongside Massa for the whole corner).

  28. Grosjean has a reputation with the FIA, so the fine line decisions will count against him. I liken him to the kids in Australia who drive VN Commodores with the seat fully reclined, wearing caps, arm holding up the roof and the final give away to the cops is the alloy front wheels and steel rear wheels, as its too expensive to replace the alloys after they popped the originals doing burnouts.
    If he can keep his nose clean for a few years, then he should be fine. To his credit, he didn’t do anything too crazy at the start of the race this time, despite Alonso’s criticism.

  29. David James
    30th July 2013, 14:06

    I dont understand why the driver should only be penalised when driving off track during overtaking if gaining an advantage.

    During laps 18 & 19 Vettel left the track at turn 5 (lap 18) at the same place that Roman was penalised. On Lap 19 he was a good half a cars width over the line at turn 4.

    At this point, he wasn’t overtaking but defending his position to RG. The stewards clearly need to be able to apply the same rule to overtaking as well as a driver defending his place. In this case, clearly its an advantage to SV if he can carry more speed through a corner.

    RG should also have got on his radio to whine at Charlie Whitting about SV’s excursions over the line.

  30. On lap 19 when RG was pressing very hard on SV, in turn 4 at the same spot SV had all 4 tyres briefly outside the white line as he went wide which also defended his position. What is the difference? I am surprised Lotus didn’t pick-up on that one and lodge a protest. IMHO it is all a bit silly and one could argue that Ferrari were let off with breaching DRS rules which looks to be a bit of double standards.

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