Lotus unhappy with Grosjean’s “very harsh” penalty

2013 Hungarian Grand Prix

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. George (@george) said on 28th July 2013, 18:48

    @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.

    • Deej92 (@deej92) said on 28th July 2013, 19:01

      Agreed.

    • Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 28th July 2013, 19:02

      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.

  2. Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 28th July 2013, 18:51

    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.

    • Euro Brun (@eurobrun) said on 28th July 2013, 19:34

      +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.

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

    How the stewards should handle illegal overtakes:

    Tell the driver to give back the position.

  4. 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.

  5. GT Racer (@gt-racer) said on 28th July 2013, 19:22

    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.

  6. Peter (@malaclypse) said on 28th July 2013, 19:35

    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.

  7. trigger (@trigger) said on 28th July 2013, 20:13

    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

  8. Irejag (@irejag) said on 28th July 2013, 21:21

    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.

  9. RFenton said on 28th July 2013, 21:45

    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.

  10. Hairs (@hairs) said on 28th July 2013, 23:12

    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.

    • David James said on 30th July 2013, 14:19

      Hairs

      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.

  11. Metallion (@metallion) said on 28th July 2013, 23:56

    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.”

    • Dizzy said on 29th July 2013, 0:48

      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.

  12. Michael Brown (@) said on 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).

  13. dragoll (@dragoll) said on 29th July 2013, 5:19

    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.

  14. David James said on 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.

  15. Coanda (@ming-mong) said on 31st July 2013, 4:05

    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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