Pastor Maldonado, Lotus, Bahrain International Circuit, 2014

Did the stewards get Maldonado’s penalty right?

2014 Bahrain Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Pastor Maldonado, Lotus, Bahrain International Circuit, 2014Pastor Maldonado landed in hot water after colliding with Esteban Gutierrez during the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Maldonado flipped the Sauber upside down when the pair made contact at turn one on lap 41. The Lotus driver had just emerged from the pits when he hit Gutierrez’s right-rear wheel.

Gutierrez rolled and landed on his wheels. Although he was able to get out of the car he was later taken to hospital for checks.

The stewards held Maldonado responsible for “causing a collision” and gave him three separate penalties: a ten second stop-go penalty during the race, a five-place grid penalty for the next event in China, and a three point endorsement on his licence.

Did the punishment fit the infraction? How do you think the stewards should have responded to the incident?

Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Maldonado's punishment for the Gutierrez incident was...

  • Far too harsh (4%)
  • Slightly too harsh (9%)
  • Fair (25%)
  • Too soft (36%)
  • Far too soft (26%)
  • No opinion (1%)

Total Voters: 735

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Image © Lotus/LAT

142 comments on “Did the stewards get Maldonado’s penalty right?”

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  1. It is far too soft given the amount of crashes that Maldonado has. Moneybag doesn’t drive well.

    1. Steph (@stephanief1990)
      6th April 2014, 19:37

      It’s not even just the amount of crashes but the fact he has zero respect for other drivers.

      1. Back in WSbR, He was banned for life at Monaco

        Money got him out of that one. Just to underlie his incredible turn speed when he engages his brain, he returned to Monaco the next year and put the car on pole… 1.5 seconds from everybody, on a dry track! Class of the field.

        He went on to pull this stunt in WSbR …..UNDER A RED FLAG!!!

        Maldonado has always been blindingly quick and completely undisciplined, his bucket loads of Venezuelan cash (and speed) have made him an irresistible hire for financially struggling F1 teams, hence his employment at Williams and Lotus.

    2. Just looking at that incident alone, I think it’s a bit harsh. All he did was stick his nose up the inside, the consequences were unpredictable and unfortunate, but the incident itself was no worse than say, Webber on Vergne in China 2012.

    3. @slava

      While Maldonado was clearly at fault for causing the collision, it wasn’t deliberate. He failed to see GUT as we was most likely looking in his mirrors. I think people are more upset because GUT flipped over upon contact. Had Maldonado just knocked over a front wing or something, they wouldn’t be criticizing the “softness” of the penalty. As Ant Davidson showed on the skypad, GUT went over because his rear tyres got tangled with Maldonado’s.

      1. …he** was…

      2. It didn’t even look like he attempted to properly turn in, I’d call that intentional. The penalties were much too light for a driver who has proven he lacks the requisite judgement to run in F1. They should hit him with a 10 place grid penalty and added 8 points against his license; he needs a serious wake up call and today was the time for it.

      3. True the dramatic consequence shouldn’t be a big consideration, it is very unlucky to flip the car. However MAL was under waved blue flags as he exits the pits. If a some back marker took out a car who was lapping him under blue flags then you would expect the officials to come down on the back marker VERY hard. In that light I think the penalty is a bit soft.

    4. The amount of Maldonado’s crashes is irrelevant in this case. We’re talking about a penalty for one crash.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for penalizing Maldonado and I think he doesn’t deserve to be in F1, but I still think it’s too harsh in this case. I’m against punishing drivers retroactively. We have penalty points now, which are supposed to punish drivers who crash too much. Maldonado should be penalized for this particular incident, not for his past crimes. So one traditional penalty and a three point endorsement on his license should be enough.

      1. The amount of Maldonado’s crashes is irrelevant in this case.

        I disagree. The stewards must take a driver’s record into account when “sentencing”, just as a police officer or a judge would take a person’s previous record into account when deciding what to do.

        If someone has had no incidents in several years of racing, they will be treated more leniently than someone who crashes every other race. They must be more harsh with a repeat offender to try to correct their behaviour.

        Maldonardo is a menace. Looking just at this incident, it is a harsh penalty. However, the stewards need to be harsh, in the hope of stopping him (hopefully before he kills or seriously injures someone).

    5. It’s good that he’s being punished, but the fact that Ricciardo was punished worse for a much less severe team cock up is an outrage. FIA needs to get their head out of their asses.

  2. He doesn’t deserve a superlicense.

    1. Completely agree. His superlicense should be suspended for three races. Irresponsible over and over and over.

    2. lol.. +13

      and he says no. 13 is for good luck :P

      1. Remember he originally picked number 3, then when Ricciardo turned round and said he wanted it he opted for 13.. Unlucky for some, hopefully we will see the back of him after this year…

    3. Traverse (@)
      6th April 2014, 19:51

      It does seriously bring into question just what a driver would have to do to lose their superlicense. Maldonado is guilty of everything pertaining to reckless/irresponsible driving, short of actually causing a death. Surely stripping/suspending his superlicense is no-brainer at this point?

      1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
        7th April 2014, 7:03

        I think if he has too many more incidents this season on wards, the FIA must consider taking it away from him.

        He’s been callously putting other peoples lives (as well as his own) at risk, by taking too big risks and making silly decisions for far too long now. He cannot keep driving like this, and then simply brush it off as “Well, that’s racing”. It plainly isn’t! The FIA must crack down on this.

    4. But he does deserve a …fork lift license! Wait you don’t need one for that. This is what you get with stupid FIA regulations about lower front end…you protect the drivers in a side collision and you flip them over instead…

      1. Actually, in most countries you need a fork-lift-license in order to drive a fork-lift, and in some yet another extra-license if you do so at job.

      2. An explicit licence maybe not, but you will need at least a certificate of basic training, and probably a medical certification too.

    5. +1 Agreed, Maldonado should NOT be in F1.

  3. How can RIC get two points for something that was out of his control and MAL get three for ignoring a right of way situation ramming someone in the side, for gods sake, flipping the car.

    1. The Webber incident last year was arguably more dangerous, which was why the severe penalty was implemented for unsafe releases.. Yes it’s hard of RIC, seeing as it wasn’t his fault, but the teams need to make sure the cars are safe and the FIA has to instigate a severe deterrent.

      1. And yes the MAL incident was bad, but thankfully at slow speeds and the cars are “safe” , with Roll hoops, mandatory crash structures etc.

        1. if noses was old shape he will never gonna be filipped into the air…. only rammed with some debry on track….
          New noses causes flying….

          1. @eon you might want to re-check the video – it was a clash between the wheels that caused the flip, not the nose getting under the body (Mal didn’t have any damage on his nose)

          2. The replays clearly showed that the crash was caused by Maldonado’s front tyre hitting Gutierrez’s rear tyre – the height of the nose is irrelevant in that scenario.

      2. Red Bull immediately told him to stop, so I’ve always thought the penalty was a tad harsh.

    2. Dion (@infinitygc)
      6th April 2014, 19:09

      RIC didn’t get any penalty-points, he got a reprimand, a 10 sec Stop&Go and a 10 place grid drop.

      1. And RIC got a harsher penalty than MAL as far as a driver’s championship is concerned why? Nobody has ever said RIC was at fault – quite the opposite, yet he is handed more of a grid penalty than MAL gets for his reckless driving. Where is the consistency as far as punishing the party at fault? MAL must have legendary insurance company!

    3. Not defending it but I think supposedly because the RIC incident were at a time where the team should be in full control whereas the MAL incident was more of a heat of the moment.

      Seeing that RIC’s team did call the error after RIC was released not trying to hide anything (not that they could with the wheel coming of) made RIC’s punishment even harder.

  4. I don’t understand why there should be more than 1 penalty for each mistake or whatever.

    If you take into consideration Pastor’s history about crashes, then maybe you can impose a large penalty like a race ban because of the repetitive mistakes. But 3 different minor penalties, seems a bit ridiculous.

    1. Fully agree.

      First off the stop go was a was pointless, as he was unlikely to score points anyway.

      Second a 5 place grid drip for a guy who didn’t make q2 is again a small price to pay.

      3 points is too little for a serious mistake like this. It should have been at least 6.

      The worrying thing is I guarantee he will come out and say he wasn’t at fault. Just like when he took out Hamilton two years ago and countless other incidents.

      1. @f190
        He said it wasnt his fault. No surprises here. This guy is so arrogant, he should have been banned for 3 races. May be then he will drive more sensibly and in case he again finds himself in such situation then he can accept his mistake (if he really is culprit)

    2. I don’t mind the points plus a real penalty, but a penalty for during the race and then an additional one for the following seems wrong to me, unless the penalty for the following race is a ban.

  5. Yosi (@yoshif8tures)
    6th April 2014, 19:01

    Should lose at least half hi points and be on probation for a race ban if he pulls this again.

  6. In my opinion it was a fair punishment. Gutierrez’ spectacular roll made it seem more idiotic than it probably was, I mean, what would they have done if instead of flipping Gutierrez would have just spun?

    So in this case I think the stewards are spot on.

    1. @andae23 I don’t think you can claim it was an insignificant incident. From my point of view the points I would highlight on this incident:
      * MAL just left the pitlane with cold tyres, cold brakes
      * GUT may not even seen MAL exiting the pits or diving under him
      * MAL attempted to pass GUT from a long way back
      * MAL attempted to pass GUT up the inside on an extremely tight angle of entry
      * GUT took the racing line, and never looked like doing anything else
      * MAL consequently touched tyres with another open wheeled vehicle in an incident he was deemed to be at fault
      For my mind, the last point is the most dangerous of all, in this case it was a slow corner, how about if MAL attempted the same manouvre coming out of the SPA pitlane and caused a collision in Eau Rouge? I think that any drivers that are involved in an collision where a tyre from one car comes into heavy contact with another car, causing one of the cars to climb over the other, should be dealt with more harshly.
      Open wheeler racing is dangerous, no doubt about it, but I truly believe that heavy wheel vs wheel contact resulting in airborn cars is sacra cent, in the same way that protecting the head and spine of Rugby players is sacra cent, and that is why there is harsh penalties associated with head high tackles, or spear tackles. Lets face it, an airborn F1 car is possibly one of the scariest images we may see on the track. We don’t have to go too far back to think of what occurred to Greg Moore in Indycar.

  7. Maldonado is an accident waiting to happen, he has shown it year after year in his F1 career so far.
    One of the most damning things I think you could say about his race craft is that he is one of the only drivers on the grid that I believe actually puts the others in danger.

    1. The biggest thing that scares me about his driving is that, as safe as the cars are, that type of accident could easily kill somebody.

    2. What really irks me is that other drivers, in particular Grosjean, have shown that they can really clean up their racing and still be quick. Why the hell hasn’t Maldonado learnt anything in 3 years of F1?

    3. HelloTraverse
      6th April 2014, 19:33

      Maldonado is an accident waiting to happen

      Waiting to happen? More like an accident that has already happened repeatedly! His presence in F1 is now beyond requirement.

    4. You took the words right err off my keyboard! He’s an utter liability who sooner rather than later is going to hurt another driver. He shouldn’t be allowed near and F1 car!

  8. Way too soft. Should have been double the grid drop and points on his licence.

    He simply never learns.

    1. Definitely, either that or a race ban like Grosjean had in Spa because of his incident with Alonso.

      1. At the very least Grosjean can defend Spa ’13 with the random and chaotic nature that is the start of a GP race so, with that in mind, Grosjean’s Spa performance cannot be compared to the dangerous recklesness that Maldonado presented to us today.

        MAL intentionally rammed GUT today. I still remember Spa ’11 and, in my book, every race MAL has been on the racetrack since that qualy session is a disgraceful piece of evidence of how desperate some teams are for sponsorship.

  9. Stop go is more than enough

    1. C´mon! he nearly killed a guy!
      He doesn´t accept his fault and blames the victim of his irresponsible driving…

      1. He never nearly killed anyone. Nowhere near.

        1. Well… Hopefully he doesn’t need to literally kill someone to learn the potential risk in his actions!

  10. Hope Gutierrez is alright.

    1. Traverse (@)
      6th April 2014, 19:40

      Don’t worry, Milhouse Van Houten Gutierrez is a tough cookie. ;)

  11. a five place grid penalty for taking a driver out like that but it is 10 places for losing a wheel in the pits. Surely both are as dangerous and should get the same penalty?

    1. I think that the reason why an unsafe release in the pit lane is given a heavy penalty is because, if a loose wheel was thrown down a busy pit lane at high speed, it could cause carnage.

      It’s something that the FIA has been clamping down on for the past few years – remember that the FIA threatened to given Renault a one race suspension back in 2009 when Alonso’s wheel wasn’t properly fitted and ended up being thrown from the car, bouncing down the track and eventually landing near a marshals post? The sentence was reduced to just a heavy fine, but it’s something the FIA has been very harsh on for a while now.

    2. its a matter of perspective- it would appear that MAL’s incident is a lot more dangerous, but it only really endangers two people- both drivers. Ricciardo’s incident puts at risk hundreds of people in the pits, and although seems quite insignificant, the repercussions could have been huge, so it that case I can understand why the FIA were more severe on it.

      Not to say Maldonados’s wasnt dangerous, I believe he deserves a race ban

  12. In a word yes. Absolutely fair punishment. You can’t punish him for the fact the tyres collided and launched Esteban in the air. It was the same type of collision that occurs almost every week, just the tyres collided instead of bodywork. If we’re to dish out punishments dependent on the aftermath of brain-fade, then we open ourselves up to even less-precedent being applicable since every situation is completely different.

    1. @timi Thanks, finally some sense, also wasn’t Bianchi’s crash with Sutil very similar to this?
      I don’t see people saying “disqualify him” or “he doesn’t deserve a super license”.

      The penalties given to Maldonado were absolutely fair, it’s just that the outcome of the crash was rather spectacular and people here seem to hate him quite a lot.

      1. @mantresx

        not to mention that Bianchi also took out Vergne and Maldonado in Malaysia in one fell swoop.

        I also remember Liuzzi’s T1 shunt at Monza in 2011 – much more dangerous than what MAL did. It was more of freak occurrence that GUT’s car flipped.

    2. With someone who only has an incident once every couple of years, then yes. But Maldanado continuously causes wrecks on the track. Multiple times in every season. He deserves a race suspension just as much or more than Grosjean did when he got his.
      Frankly with his repeated incidents and refusal to ever take responsibility afterwards, it is obvious he will not learn from this either. He should be out of the sport because he is like a spoiled child who has been told by his parents that he never does anything wrong and he believes it and repeats it over and over and over.

    3. You’re totally right. In most cases the car of Guttierez would’ve spun and he could continue his way. Nobody would make a great fuss about it, and Maldonado would probably get 2 penalty points just like Bianchi got. This was just a very unfortunate case, where the wheel of Maldonado’s car launched Guttierez in the air. Just a typical open-wheel accident.

  13. I think I’ve said it on 3 separate articles now! Here’s a fourth!: Disqualification should have happened.

    1. yes . Black flag immediately . I don’t know why they don’t do that .

      1. That should be a clear message that he’s doing something wrong ..

  14. Would like to see an onboard video from his car, as I don’t really understand how he made it happen. Seemed ridiculously clumsy from the TV pictures.

    1. He just drove straight on .. I don’t get it .

      1. He didn’t just drive straight on, he actually turned into the corner, just that at the same time Gutierrez but across his bow.
        The truth is Maldonado already has a reputation which was why this wasn’t ruled a race accident.
        If a driver is exiting the pits on fresher tyres, the driver already on the circuit has to give some room and Gutierrez didn’t even bother, so in my opinion they are both culpable.

        1. You need to check the regulations: exiting the pits on fresh rubber doesn’t matter in this instance. Maldonado was well behind Gutierrez when he exited the pits. Gutierrez had the corner. Maldonado missed his braking point and rammed into the rear-right of Gutierrez’s car–Gutierrez was over half way through the corner when Maldonado hit him, so your premise is flawed.

          When a car is well behind the other, the driver in front doesn’t have to leave room or abandon the apex. Even when a following car is close enough to overtake, the leading car does not have to abandon the racing line; they only need to leave enough room on the track for the other car if they are side by side (and there was ample room off the line). Pastor tried shooting for a gap that didn’t exist and it resulted in a dangerous accident.

    2. i’d argue that PM was in front of EG in the run up to the the corner, PM had the inside line and EG cut in front of him. I don’t think EG knew PM was there though & PM could have braked harder/sooner to avoid the incident. Does the car in front have right of way or the man steaming hard up behind?
      Its hard to see from EG in car view.

      1. Exactly, Maldonado was just being punished for his personality rather than the stewards taking a rational view.

      2. Watch this – GUT was clearly at least a car length or two ahead going into T1

        1. And that lovely piece of footage clearly shows the car width that GUT left to the apex. Looking closely, the car behind the two (Rosberg I believe) drive the line that GUT had left for MAL quite easily. I can’t see any grounds for MAL claiming that GUT left him no room… simply no room for MALs late braking and line of approach.

  15. I always wonder whether the stewards penalise driver’s mistake, or the severity of the resulting crash, which is largely out of the drivers’ control. I’d put Grosjean’s Spa crash as an example: He was over-ambitious in circumstances that would likely result in contact. BUT if he’d made the same mistake but only issued minor damage (rather than multiple retirements), would the penalty be the same?

    Admission: I’m an impoverished BBC user so haven’t seen the accident yet, merely heard James Allen describe it. Again, it sounded overly ambitious, ill-judged, the result was the retirement of another car. That the car rolled was spectacularly unlucky for the Sauber. If Maldonado had run in deeper and the contact had been more broadside, it could have been a harmless spin. That would be a bigger driver error, but lesser consequences.

    I’m not envious of the stewards having to make calls like that.

    1. @splittimes Found an article with a Vine video in it. It’s only part of the incident, but should give you a little room to make your own judgement on the call.

  16. For me it’s more of a question of the penalties delivered. We saw Ricciardo getting a 10 place penalty for an unsafe release but then Pastor gets a 5 place penalty for causing what could have been a very nasty accident.

    Not so long ago Roman got a race ban for a similar incident so yet again we are seeing incidents that are getting different penalties.

    Having a guest steward seems to have helped but not enough. The only way I can see us getting consistency is if the FIA appoint a panel of stewards that are the same for every race & not use local stewards. They could still use the guest steward (ex F1 driver) which could be different for each event but the rest are the same race in race out.

    If Pastors crime was as severe as Romans then he should have been given a harsh penalty during the race (10s stop go) and then more points on his licence so being closer to the race ban if it continues.

    I think awarding a penalty during the race with points on his licence is enough but to then give him a penalty for the next race is punishing him twice for the same crime which to me is crazy.

    There was time left in the race to award a penalty so why the need to give him a grid drop for the next race? Crazy

    1. The harshness of Ricciardo’s penalty has been well discussed above (in short: Much more dangerous), and you cannot compare the punishments between seasons. The stewards has much more fine-grained tools this season.

      1. The harshness of Ricciardo’s penalty is deserved even though unfairly so, we’ve seen the effect on a camera man who doesn’t have carbon fiber protection.

        1. fair point but I still think the penalty for the next race is too much as it should be one penalty per incident plus points due to the severity if needed. I would think most people will agree that the stewards decisions and penalties are inconsistent

  17. It depends how youre looking at it

    As an incident on its own i’d say its fair

    As part of the 2014 season- other drivers have had harsher punishment for lesser things

    As part as his career- god only knows how he’s still racing

    1. @hobbsy009
      I agree completely with that assessment!

    2. COTD. @hobbsy009 Seriously, well put and soundly reasoned.

  18. Hmmm… is this question about whether it´s fair given the rulebook, or whether the corresponding articles of the rulebook are fair, or about some spontaneous feeling of fairness?

    I don´t like grid-drop penalties in general, imho race-weekends shouldn´t be unneccessarily more dependant on another than they are. But I would have given either more than 3 points to him or less than 2 points to all those drivers who had 2-point-awarded-incidents till now.

  19. I think Maldonado’s penalty was fair. It was a silly incident that could have been a hell of a lot worse so causing him pain in two races, alongside some points on his licence, feels a good way to try and deter drivers from silly mistakes.

    If you compare it to Ricciardo’s then it may seem too light. The problem is it’s nigh on impossible to compare the two incidents. A mistake by the team in the pit lane where where the danger to many people is extremely high vs a driver causing an accident which could have injured another driver. Both dangerous, both bad, both deserving of harsh penalties – but which is worse?

  20. Unlike Daniel Ricciardo’s Malaysian GP pitstop problem, this was a driver’s fault and he endangered another driver, yet the penalty is less. Everyday Bernie, CVC and the FIA are making me want to stop watching with stupid, nonsense decisions that don’t make sense.

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