Did Rosberg deserve a penalty for chicane cutting?

2014 Canadian Grand Prix

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2014Nico Rosberg did everything he could to keep his team mate and championship rival behind him during the Canadian Grand Prix. But did he overstep the mark?

Rosberg was feeling the heat from Lewis Hamilton when he locked his front-left wheel at the final chicane on lap 25.

Realising he wouldn’t be able to make the corner, Rosberg drove over the tarmac run-off area and rejoined the track through the gap after the speed bump.

By keeping his foot down Rosberg lost so little time he set the fastest lap of the race when he crossed the finishing line. He also pulled a few tenths of a second clear of Hamilton – a vital advantage as he team mate strived to get within a second of him at the DRS detection point.

The stewards quickly announced Rosberg was under invetigation for failing to observe track limits. But within a few laps Hamilton was notified his team mate had been let off the hook: “No penalty for Nico. He’s on his final warning for cutting the last chicane.”

The incident soon became academic as both Mercedes drivers ran into trouble and Hamilton retired from the race. But it could have decided the outcome of another closely-fought battle between the Mercedes pair.

The rules on leaving the track and gaining an advantage were revised before the start of the season. They now state a driver must not gain any “lasting” advantage by leaving the track.

Is this another case of a run-off area making it too easy for a driver to leave the track and gain a benefit? And if so, should the stewards have taken a firmer line on Rosberg?

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

Should Nico Rosberg have been given a penalty for cutting the chicane?

  • Strongly agree (32%)
  • Slightly agree (23%)
  • Neither agree nor disagree (5%)
  • Slightly disagree (15%)
  • Strongly disagree (25%)
  • No opinion (0%)

Total Voters: 615

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2014 Canadian Grand Prix

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246 comments on Did Rosberg deserve a penalty for chicane cutting?

  1. Bleu (@bleu) said on 9th June 2014, 8:44

    Under current rules I don’t think that was a penalty. Although Finnish commentator was mentioning how 5-second penalty is actually best suitable for these kind of things..

    However, to avoid chicane cutting I have sometimes thought about rule: there is a time measurement point just before the braking area and if car cutting a chicane is less than one second ahead, he shall let the car behind through (unless it was really the fault behind the driver behind)

  2. Bobby (@f1bobby) said on 9th June 2014, 8:59

    It was the fact he didn’t even lift or attempt to steer right, just flat out! It overstepped the mark definitely. Rosberg has a knack of mucking up under pressure and benefitting from it.

  3. Adz76 (@adz76) said on 9th June 2014, 9:22

    In short yes he should have received a penalty, perhaps a 5 second time addition or something similar.
    I do think it is strange that to stop cars cutting the chicane there was the speed hump added and then they have left enough room for a car to not have to go over the speed bump, which in my view negates the whole point of having the hump added. Surely if you want to discourage / penalise a driver just extend the hump right the way along. Glad to see Canada will be on the calendar for another good while yet, after yesterday’s race I would struggle to imagine the sport without the venue!

  4. Matt (@mattf1f) said on 9th June 2014, 9:56

    I am not going to comment if Rosberg should have gotten a penalty because it has been very inconsistent with the steward decisions in similar situations. Grosjean overtaking Massa last year, or those chicane cuttings every year in Monaco etc, it makes me wonder if there should be a standard penalty for leaving the track no matter what the situation is. I mean if you speed in the pit lane you always get a penalty. If your gearbox needs changing you get a penalty. So why leaving the track should be any different. However 5 secs during pit stop is too much, maybe 2 secs would be better for these incidents. Just a thought

  5. Marvin (@carbonentity) said on 9th June 2014, 10:38

    Typical! The words fail me. Hamilton was clearly in the DRS window and wanted to overtake. Rosberg took the shortcut and kept the advantage of over one second. He didn’t even stepped off the gas once. You don’t need to be an expert to see that this incident clearly changed the outcome of the race. Everybody knows that Hamilton is the better and faster race driver, period. You could even see from how he got closer and closer every lap from his position in this incident. I am myself mixed race and I can see clearly what is happening here. It is called “discrimination”. I know from my own experience at work that dark skinned people always have got to be three times better then white people and even then it is not good enough. Of course the white guy got cleared of any wrong doing. We all know if it was Hamilton who would have done this, he no doubt would have got the penalty and would have been taken aside by the stewards afterwards and would have been remprimanded like a little child. Black people live here in germany and europe since the 1930´s and before. Do you see any of them in a top position? Hell naw, blacks cannot manage a firm, lead a country, let alone drive a race car. Look even in Monaco Rosberg has not been penalised, Hamilton has already been penalised for lesser things. Yesterday in canada, when Hamilton got close again in the last laps he tried to attack at the same corner and had to cut the same chicane, but he stepped off the gas and let Rosberg in front again, because he is a real pure blood and fair racer.

  6. SoLiDG (@solidg) said on 9th June 2014, 10:44

    The big difference from many of these chicane cuts, is that Rosberg actually gained half a second.
    And a very very important half second. After you cut a chicane you should let yourself drop back to where you were. And you can do this max. 1time in my opinion. Or maybe they should make a rule, don’t make the corner, you lose the place by default. This way they’ll make the corner, believe me.

    • Robbie (@robbie) said on 9th June 2014, 13:35

      So…how would NR have dropped back to where he was without killing his momentum and handing the spot to LH? How would NR have been able to determine and enact the perfect penalty for himself without costing himself more than he deserved?

      As to ‘don’t make the corner, you lose the place by default’…there would then have to be a whole new book of rules and all kinds of controversy as to how close one would have to be behind the guy making the mistake, to have earned the defaulted spot. Should there be ‘default zones’ at every corner at every track? I think you might as well just ask for walls on the outsides of every corner of every track and forget any runoff areas whatsoever, if your goal is to hold drivers to mistake free races…and the racing will be much slower and more processional to boot.

      • Adam Hardwick (@fluxsource) said on 9th June 2014, 15:32

        “So…how would NR have dropped back to where he was without killing his momentum and handing the spot to LH?”

        That’s for NR to work out, not the stewards to agonise over.

        I appreciate that it’s a difficult to balance the severity of a infringement with the implications of a punishment, but I think the wrong call was made in this situation.

        The reason is think so is this: how can it be fair to have a situation where a driver makes a significant mistake, and yet ends up gaining time because of it. A mistake should always be “punished” somehow. Not always loss of a place, but loss of time or track position. You could argue that his punishment was a flat spot on his tyre, but I’m not sure that’s sufficient, especially considering the gain in time.

        Ultimately the battle between Rosberg and Hamilton was decided by Hamilton’s brakes, I feel the poor design of the run off area (where is was possible to go quicker than the track) means that a penalty should have been given.

        On another note, Nico might need to start being careful with his reputation – two questionable incidents in two races starts hinting at a pattern. Whether or not he actually did anything wrong doesn’t matter to many, just the appearance of wrongdoing can be enough to leave a bad taste in your mouth.

        • Robbie (@robbie) said on 10th June 2014, 18:19

          @fluxsource I think that most of the time at most tracks a driver is in fact punished for a significant mistake. I’m not sure this mistake was as significant as many think…he didn’t spin, didn’t hit anyone or anything etc etc. and due to the track design there was a runoff that allowed him and any driver to get back going or keep going unscathed. I think the warning was penalty enough in this case, and would have had him being more cautious at that spot for the rest of the race. It’s not that I entirely disagree with you, but I also think that drivers should not always be punished, and certainly not severely, for full-out racing. They got rid of kitty litter in a lot of places because people complained of their favourite driver’s day being ended for one mistake.

          I reject the notion that NR needs to be careful about his reputation. I think it matters a great deal to the ones who count, that he was found not guilty in Monaco. Those who still don’t accept that and have a bad taste are not going to affect NR going forward. In Montreal he was guilty of racing and trying to keep LH at bay. Nothing to feel guilty about there, and if the stewards had wanted to give him more than just a warning then he would have complied to whatever they wanted. NR is an angel compared to those involved in Spygate, Liegate, Crashgate etc gate, and whatever bad taste those things left has not seemed to affect anything. NR nor anyone is ever going to please everyone.

          • Adam Hardwick (@fluxsource) said on 10th June 2014, 18:44

            @robbie

            First off, thanks for the mature and reasoned reply. There is hope for the human race.

            As for the mistake not being severe, I disagree. If there was anything other than tarmac on that run off, and a wide enough gap between the wall and the sausage to fit through, Nico would absolutely have lost that place. His mistake was sufficient to severely lock brakes for a long time, and wasn’t able to make the corner. I’m not advocating a one mistake and you’re out situation by any means, but he got that corner massively wrong. Not losing any time because of it was lucky. Actually benefiting from it is down right wrong (although I’m not suggesting it was on purpose).

            As for the reputation thing, I’m not for a moment saying he’s done anything wrong. But just because he’s been cleared by the stewards doesn’t mean that everyone believes he didn’t do it on purpose. And again here, the results of this poll suggest there are many people who think he “got away with it”.

            His reputation is fine. But both the media and fans can be fickle at times, and the PR battle is one that needs fighting too. While he’s achieved victories on track (well, relatively in the case of Canada), these two incidents have to be seen as small defeats. All I’m saying is that Nico needs to keep an eye on these small things – they have a habit of building up levels of resentment.

          • Robbie (@robbie) said on 10th June 2014, 19:48

            @fluxsource I think that is fair comment. And back at you with the mature and reasoned reply. NR’s lockup was severe but there are bigger mistakes to make. The worst case for him would have been that LH got ahead of him which would have happened at many other places on many other tracks where the one in front has such a lockup. Lucky for sure, but I’m still not convinced he gained enough to be punished more than with a warning, as confirmed by the stewards.

            I take your point about resentment, and in a way perhaps I was already agreeing somewhat with your stance when I was actually a bit glad that NR didn’t win the race as that would have been looked on as REALLY getting away with something with his lockup, and REALLY only leading LH due to LH’s bad luck. The fact that NR also had some bad luck, albeit not as bad as LH, takes a little bit off of the NR just leading because…notion. I take your point about small defeats and I think NR is aware of them. He knows he lockup up in Monaco too, so has work to do. He can lead LH, but it’s not always pretty, and I do cut NR some slack for never having had this equipment nor this much chance for the WDC whereas LH has been there, not necessarily with such strong equipment vs the competition, but top 3 cars always nonetheless. I look for NR to take and learn from all that is happening, especially in these last 2 races.

  7. drmouse (@drmouse) said on 9th June 2014, 10:48

    I voted “Slightly agree”. Based on current application of the rules, it was a close call whether he would get a penalty. People tend to judge an advantage to mean gain of a position or immediately holding a position, and this seems to be what the stewards judged it on: HAM would not have immediately overtaken had ROS not locked up.

    Personally, however, I think that such actions should be punished. I believe that any time a driver leaves the track, if they do not suffer a visible disadvantage in doing so they should be penalised. I have argued this in the past. The rules say you must drive within the track limits. Unfortunately this is not how the rules are currently applied, so I am not too disgruntled by the decision.

    • Robbie (@robbie) said on 9th June 2014, 13:54

      I do hear you however if there was a no tolerance, black and white rule that one must stay within the track limits then the racing will suffer, drivers will not feel as free to go for it, and there might as well be walls around every corner of every track. I don’t think F1 could handle homologated racing of this type. Much of the excitement would disappear and the processions would kill F1. This is racing and the drivers have to be able to go for it, and there has to be some shades of grey and some questionable controversial stuff or the headlines just won’t be there. One of the reasons they moved away from so much kitty litter was so your favourite driver wouldn’t have his day ended for one little mistake in the name of racing and going for it, which is what we expect in the pinnacle of racing.

  8. Adrian Adi said on 9th June 2014, 11:14

    If there was no run-off or at least a punishing one, Hamilton would have had a big chance of overtaking him on the next straight. Or, you know, not floor it and pretend like it’s a lucky mistake.

    As it stands, that lucky mistake meant that Rosberg went 6 tenths faster and got out of Hamilton’s DRS range. Hamilton had to catch up again, using his tires, overheating his engine etc.

    Rosberg’s “Oh, I did not know” mistakes are getting a bit annoying (reversing on Monaco and flooring it now).

  9. Alex said on 9th June 2014, 11:55

    Changing the subject… why f1 official webpage never offers speed traps speed in race session, they show in free practices and qualifying but why never in race? Dont understand as would be interesting to know it.

  10. Osvaldas31 (@osvaldas31) said on 9th June 2014, 12:28

    “a driver must not gain any “lasting” advantage by leaving the track.”

    The most important word here is lasting. I would interpret it as meaning “gaining a position”, because Rosberg cut the chicane, but his advantage didn’t last, he just got a little bit of breathing space. Of course, if it have been repeated, then a penalty would have been logical outcome.

  11. Robbie (@robbie) said on 9th June 2014, 13:25

    Personally I think F1 got it exactly right. First of all, and once again, NR did nothing intentional. He locked up his brakes in a heated battle to keep LH behind him. But LH was not attempting a pass right there.

    I don’t blame NR for then doing what he did, even if he set fastest time, which was also no doubt not his aim. I don’t know what else he should have done. Many say he should have given LH the spot…no way…LH hadn’t earned that. Many say NR gained a lasting advantage…no he did not obviously, as in no time LH was on him again. Many say NR took LH out of the DRS zone when he cut the chicane…yes he did, but again not intentionally, and LH had already proved many times in the race that being in the DRS zone behind NR was no guarantee of an overtake.

    I think NR did the only thing he could do, as I don’t know how else he himself would have been able to judge fair compensation for LH. I think NR had to just go for it and see what the stewards had to say about it, because if he had backed off at all he would have just been handing the spot to LH which might have been penalizing himself too much for all he knew at the time. And he was right. What kind of prescident would have been set if you could no longer make a mistake ahead of a driver not passing you without having to give up a spot or be even more severely punished because of what maybe mighta woulda coulda happened.

    NR’s penalty was flat-spotted tires, dirt on his tires from cutting the chicane, and a warning from the stewards, which would have made him a titch more cautious at that spot on the track. To do anything more to NR would have been penalizing him too much for simply all-out racing.

    • Nick (@grosjean0817) said on 9th June 2014, 13:34

      Nico accelerated through the run off area! This is the epitome of gaining an advantage. You are extremely wrong!

      • Robbie (@robbie) said on 9th June 2014, 13:39

        Of course I disagree as stated above. He accelerated, yes. What else was he to do? Not accelerate then? Assume he should just lay down and let LH go without knowing if that was necessary? LH wasn’t passing NR so NR needn’t have had his first reaction to be that he owed LH the spot. He was smart to let the stewards figure that out rather than give up something LH had not earned.

  12. Nick (@grosjean0817) said on 9th June 2014, 13:33

    Rosberg did the same thing last year to Romain Grosjean in Abu Dhabi. Nico was running third with Romain closing and Nico cut the middle chicane while gaining a couple of seconds due to the lengthy straightaway. Everyone knows if you make a mistake through that chicane, you will lose a lot of top speed down that straight. Rosberg did not give the time back until a few laps later when he let off at the start line. He did not give back the amount of time he gained. He set the fastest sector time by close to two seconds when he did this and it was not even mentioned. This dude is a cheater…

    • Robbie (@robbie) said on 9th June 2014, 13:45

      I guess if it was not even mentioned, then he did the right thing and no penalty was warranted. Perhaps he was waiting for word from the stewards as to how he should compensate,mwhich happened as you say a few laps later,mtherefore he did the right thing and the last thing he is is a cheater. So…no penalty then…no penalty in Monaco…a warning in Canada…an otherwise squeaky clean reputation…you need to drop the ‘cheater’ rhetoric…dude!

  13. Stephen (@stabel91) said on 9th June 2014, 19:23

    Why can’t they just use some tire barriers to make an extra small chicane up where the shortcut rejoins the track, so that it is impossible to shortcut the chicane and gain time. That way a driver would actually be punished for making the mistake but can get on with his racing. If drivers are left to punish themselves they are always going to toe the line and its left up to the stewards to decide in a no-win situation (Grosjean in hungary) . This whole argument would be moot if they could properly design tracks so that it is impossible to exceed track limits and gain time, while still keeping drivers safe.

  14. Dave said on 9th June 2014, 21:40

    Definately should have been penalised he made an error which would have cost him time but by missing the track he made his mistake an advantage, people have been comparing that lap with an average lap which is wrong because with a huge lockup and unable to take the corner it should have been a slow lap for him instead it was his fastest, Hamilton would have taken the lead.

  15. rantingmrp (@rantingmrp) said on 9th June 2014, 22:20

    Spa 2010 – LH cuts the chicane, gives back the place to Kimi, then immediately overtakes Kimi to win. Stewards handed him a 25-second penalty.
    Rosberg should have been made to give the place back at the very least. Easy to see why the LH fanboys are angry. Lewis must feel terrible.

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