Should Raikkonen get penalty for Silverstone crash?

Debates and polls

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Silverstone, 2014It was a relief to see Kimi Raikkonen climb from his battered Ferrari with no serious injuries after his high-speed crash on the first lap at Silverstone.

The same goes for the other drivers who were involved in the crash and emerged unscathed. They included Felipe Massa, who pitched has car into a spin which potentially spared Raikkonen from suffering a second direct blow to already destroyed nose of his Ferrari, the consequences of which might have been dire.

That contact forced Massa into retirement. Kamui Kobayashi also took avoiding action but was able to continue in the race, albeit with a damaged car.

Ahead of them Max Chilton and Romain Grosjean were showered with debris from Raikkonen’s smashed Ferrari. While Grosjean suffered a damaged visor, Chilton was extraordinarily lucky not to have been badly hurt after part of Raikkonen’s wheel smashed into his car. This photograph taken by a fan shows how close it came to hitting his head:

The race was stopped for over an hour so the barrier Raikkonen struck could be repaired. But should the Ferrari driver have faced a penalty for single-handedly triggering such destruction?

For

Raikkonen crashed because he was trying to rejoin the track at unabated speed without sufficient consideration for other drivers.

His initial mistake in running wide at the Aintree corner was innocent. But facing the choice of following the intended route from the run-off to the circuit along the smoother surface, or taking a straighter but potentially quicker line, Raikkonen opted for the latter.

Raikkonen’s path took him across the grass and a rain gully, where the Ferrari got away from him. That caused a crash which ended or spoiled the races of other drivers. Raikkonen shouldn’t be punished for losing control of his car, but for taking an unnecessary risk while rejoining the circuit.

Against

Raikkonen had chosen a gap in the traffic to merge in with and it was just his misfortune that his preferred point had a bump in it which caused him to lose control.

First-lap crashes are not uncommon and are rarely penalised except in extreme cases, such as Grosjean’s at Spa in 2012 which – in the words of the stewards – eliminated leading championship contenders from the race.

The stewards have been asked to show greater leniency when ruling on incidents. Some incidents during the weekend, such as another first-lap collision between Jean-Eric Vergne and Sergio Perez, were ruled not to have been wholly the fault of one driver and so no penalty was given. Accordingly, they should not be penalising drivers for crashes.

I say

The generous extent of the run-off at Silverstone was a talking point during the race weekend – as it had been in Austria. There was more than enough of it at the exit of Aintree for Raikkonen to rejoin the track safely. Any F1 driver – let alone one of his experience – should have been able to do so.

Nonetheless this was a rare error from a driver who is ordinarily a safe pair of hands. Giving him a race ban – as some have suggested – would be excessive.

Former GP2 driver and F1 tester Andy Soucek pointed out after the crash that he had made a similar mistake during a GP2 race at Monza in 2007 and been given a five-place grid penalty. Something similar for Raikkonen, perhaps in addition to a few points on his licence, would seem to me a fair penalty for an act of carelessness which nearly had very serious consequences.

You say

Should Raikkonen have been penalised for causing yesterday’s first-lap crash at Silverstone? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Should Raikkonen have received a penalty for causing the Silverstone crash?

  • Strongly agree (16%)
  • Slightly agree (29%)
  • Neither agree nor disagree (6%)
  • Slightly disagree (16%)
  • Strongly disagree (31%)
  • No opinion (2%)

Total Voters: 570

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Image © Ferrari/Ercole Colombo

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225 comments on Should Raikkonen get penalty for Silverstone crash?

  1. @andae23 I don’t think he should get a penalty. From the air shot you can clearly see there was room to rejoin safely. The reason he lost the car was the little jump he made on the grass. If he had rejoined a metre earlier and not set a wheel in the grass he would have never spun and not one driver would have had any trouble with him coming on track.

  2. Bleu said on 7th July 2014, 16:29

    I say reprimand is fine for that.

  3. mantresx (@mantresx) said on 7th July 2014, 16:29

    Funny how people think, if it had been another driver (like Maldonado) everyone would be saying he should be banned for life.

    Personally I think a few points in his license would be fair enough, he did rejoin unsafely but it was just unfortunate that he hit a bump.

    • Dave (@raceprouk) said on 7th July 2014, 16:43

      Maldonado has a history of recklessness, Raikkonen doesn’t.

    • jms said on 7th July 2014, 17:27

      Kimi doesn’t have a history of causing accidents Pastor does. Are you forgetting that Kimi set a record last season for most consecutive point scoring races? That is not a guy who wrecks often & his first concern wasn’t for himself it was for Massa.

  4. Clive Allen (@clive-allen) said on 7th July 2014, 16:30

    Anything that discourages drivers from using run-off areas to give them an advantage, say I. Penalise da bum.

  5. TMF (@tmf42) said on 7th July 2014, 16:31

    I don’t think he should get a ban, but maybe a 3 places grid drop and 10 mandatory track walks :) – in 98 cases of 100, rejoining the track in that way works. In 2 cases you got that bump and if it weren’t for this no one would question his judgement.

    • petebaldwin (@petebaldwin) said on 7th July 2014, 17:04

      @tmf42 – you’re right but in 98 cases out of 100, not slowing down for a yellow flag in qualifying would have no effect either.

      The rules are in place to try and get rid of that 2%.

      That accident could have been really serious and the simple way to stop it in future is to warn all drivers that they will be punished if they re-enter the track in an unsafe way (regardless of whether it causes an accident or not).

      • TMF (@tmf42) said on 7th July 2014, 17:18

        @petebaldwin different scenarios – yellow flags leave no room for interpretation. Rejoining the track safely and without gaining an advantage – as the regulations state – depend on subjective judgement. First from the driver and then from the stewards.

        It was reckless and a lapse in judgement on Kimi’s part but he isn’t known to be a constant risk factor on track – so a punishment is in order as I mentioned but not as severe as a race ban.

        • petebaldwin (@petebaldwin) said on 7th July 2014, 17:56

          @tmf42 – Oh yeah I totally agree it should only be a small punishment. My point was more that the rules for yellows are in place because 98 times out of 100 isn’t acceptable. What Kimi did was very dangerous and looking at that Chilton picture, potentially life threatening!

          Personally, I think it’s time to put some strict rules in place so that re-joining the track isn’t a subjective thing. It should be set out in the rules that if you leave the track, you must exercise caution before rejoining and that means letting off the throttle. This can all be looked at afterwards with the data they have available to them. If it’s shown that a driver doesn’t lift to re-enter safely, they will receive a penalty.

  6. chris (@9chris9) said on 7th July 2014, 16:31

    I think no penalty is warranted here but as Perez got a penalty for not turning at a corner and Massa slammed into him then by that logic Raikkonen should get a race ban and points for reckless driving. Chilton, Grosjean & Kobayashi where very lucky to not have suffered more damage but had their races affected & Massa was lucky to escape even worse contact than he got. Chilton got a penalty as a direct consequence to this incident too.

  7. JackySteeg (@jackysteeg) said on 7th July 2014, 16:37

    I say “slightly agree”. I don’t want to see a penalty largely because I am sick to death of seeing grid penalties at every single race. But there definitely should be some sort of action, perhaps a couple of points on his license or a reprimand, just to show that driving is unacceptable.

    Still, I have a feeling the F1 community is being a bit soft, just because it is Kimi Raikkonen. If it was Maldonado who came barreling back onto the track in that manner, everyone would be calling for him to be banned.

    • Dave (@raceprouk) said on 7th July 2014, 16:45

      As I posted above, Maldonado has a history of recklessness, Raikkonen doesn’t.

    • Strontium (@strontium) said on 7th July 2014, 16:50

      @jackysteeg I definitely agree with your last point. Because it is Kimi, everybody sees it as ‘one of those things’, and don’t really bother with blaming somebody.

    • petebaldwin (@petebaldwin) said on 7th July 2014, 18:00

      @jackysteeg – Put it a different way, if Chilton was struck on the helmet by that tyre, people would be treating this very differently. Because he missed by an inch or two, it’s fine……

      In terms of penalties, I do think that Kimi is generally a safe driver. He doesn’t have a history of this sort of thing so I believe the crash alone will stop him doing this again! Having said that, they need to give a penalty to set a precedent. If you allow Kimi to get away with nothing, does that mean every driver gets to do this once as well?

  8. montreal95 (@montreal95) said on 7th July 2014, 16:46

    Nonsense. Stop this babysitting and trying to penalize everyone. You’re just proving Niki Lauda right in everything he says regarding the modern F1

    Haven’t seen a single ounce of carelessness there. KR came back to the track not running into any car. He was plain unlucky to run into that grassy bump. He couldn’t have predicted its existence in any way

    This is the first time I hear that there’s such a suggestion at all(that KR should’ve been penalized), and hopefully the last

    I suggest to enjoy the great racing we had yesterday and stop crying for penalties for KR, SV, FA etc. etc, like its a kindergarten

    • Dave (@raceprouk) said on 7th July 2014, 17:24

      He chose to cross the grass instead of using the perfectly serviceable piece of flat green tarmac just before it.

      • montreal95 (@montreal95) said on 7th July 2014, 18:08

        @raceprouk He was too far with the momentum of his off that he couldn’t return via tarmac. If they had the Monaco steering rack maybe he could’ve returned via tarmac

        • Dave (@raceprouk) said on 7th July 2014, 18:17

          He had a brake. He had a steering wheel. He had everything he needed to avoid running across the grass at race speed.

          • montreal95 (@montreal95) said on 7th July 2014, 18:30

            @raceprouk Check my reply to @petebaldwin below. That explains my position on the subject clearly. If you disagree, well then we have a fundamental disagreement over the way F1 supposed to be run in general. If you want to have kindergarten F1 well it’s your right. I’m only happy that the stewards agreed with me on this occasion. Hopefully this is the new policy of more lenient penalties at work here and we’ll see more of the same from now on, instead of the babysitting

          • Dave (@raceprouk) said on 7th July 2014, 21:40

            So that means you disagree that drivers should show due caution and common sense.

          • Dave (@raceprouk) said on 7th July 2014, 22:13

            Not to mention the regulations already cover this exact scenario, and have done for a very long time:

            20.2 Should a car leave the track the driver may re-join, however, this may only be done when it is safe to do so

          • Dave (@raceprouk) said on 7th July 2014, 22:19

            And here’s an overhead view of that section of the circuit. See that green strip of tarmac? See how long it is, and how far from the corner it is? Raikkonen could have easily used that instead of cutting the grass.

          • montreal95 (@montreal95) said on 10th July 2014, 14:04

            @raceprouk First of all, if you want a timely response do please quote my user name in your replies. I did when I replied to you and it shouldn’t be that hard to return the courtesy

            But I’m glad in a way you hadn’t done that, since it now allows me to put the FIA response here: http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/114903

            Do read it carefully. All your claims are rejected as false there as indeed I claimed them to be beforehand

            Specifically the FIA retors regarding the rule 20.2 and what it means that your interpretation of the rule is completely wrong.
            “When it is safe to do so”-it was safe to do so for KR he wasn’t rejoining into the path of any car. No rule states that you must return via tarmac only

            Also, as I suspected and indeed wrote, telemetry proves that KR did lift somewhat in the process. Yes, he wasn’t at crawling speed but no rule requires him to do so. The FIA agrees with me completely that KR was as cautious and commonsensical as racing drivers can be expected to, contrary to your claims

            To sum it up: KR did almost everything right, was unlucky and paid for it heavily by crashing losing chance of good points and missing the test as well which cannot be underestimated given his season so far. Your interpretation of the rules, on the other hand is not prudent and sensible but over-cautious and babysitting. I’m very glad you’re not an FIA steward mate, given our fundamental difference of opinion

          • Dave (@raceprouk) said on 10th July 2014, 14:52

            And none of that excuses Raikkonen cutting across the grass the way he did. If he hadn’t done that, he wouldn’t have lost control, and wouldn’t have crashed.

          • montreal95 (@montreal95) said on 10th July 2014, 15:24

            @raceprouk Excuse isn’t necessary for something that doesn’t need excusing. He didn’t brake any rules, he made a mistake of judgement regarding the return via grass, and was unlucky to be punished for it the way he was. Nothing further to add. The poll question is: was KR acting dangerously enough to be given some kind of penalty . Multiple evidence points out that the answer is a resounding no. Should you close your eyes to it and still wish to think the opposite, well that’s your choice. It’s an internet blog, everyone’s entitled to an opinion. The last sentence of my previous post is the last one in this post as well

          • Dave (@raceprouk) said on 10th July 2014, 15:42

            I’m glad you think reckless driving is acceptable.

    • petebaldwin (@petebaldwin) said on 7th July 2014, 18:04

      “He couldn’t have predicted its existence in any way”

      @montreal95 – Exactly that. Because he was off the circuit on a section not designed to be driven on, he should have taken precautions. He didn’t know if there was a bump or not but as he was going over grass, it would be reasonable to assume that there might be one there. There is certainly previous examples of similar things happening (ie Petrov).

      • montreal95 (@montreal95) said on 7th July 2014, 18:25

        @petebaldwin And do you have his telemetry to know he was full throttle there? Or you’re assuming that in order to spin on that bump he must have been?
        Regardless, there’s such a thing as reasonable precaution, and another thing entirely are expectations of un-reasonable precaution especially for racing drivers in a race. Kimi spotted a free gap so he wouldn’t run into any drivers and went for it. He was unlucky and Felipe Massa was unlucky too. That happens. You can either accept that, or let’s make a rule that you can return to the track only via tarmac or at some designated low speed. There are so many pointless over-complicated rules, that only serve to turn casual fans off(or any fans who came to see real men race and not kindergarten “look mommy that bad boy did this” boys). So adding one more such wouldn’t make a difference

  9. MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 7th July 2014, 16:51

    I think he deserves a penalty. Maybe a big one.

    Keep in mind the reason why they have these tarmac runoff areas in the first place – because it’s extremely dangerous for cars to be barreling across bumpy grass at over 150mph. Silverstone isn’t Wimbledon. It’s not a putting green. It’s an old airfield and it’s well known that the ground there is extremely bumpy. You can see it from the grandstands, clear as day. But despite this knowledge, Raikkonen decided to accelerate at massive speed across the grass in order to minimise the amount of time he was going to lose. He deliberately did something he should be aware is extremely dangerous, and the result was a massive smash which only extreme good fortune prevented from having very serious consequences. He chose to do this because he didn’t want to have to slow down after running off the track.

    Basically he deliberately did something very obviously dangerous, and as a result caused a massive accident. I can’t see any real reason he should not get a penalty.

  10. What I do know is if Maldonado was in the car it would be penalty or race ban. Kimi should have waited his race was over anyway..

  11. Little_M_Lo (@pezlo2013) said on 7th July 2014, 16:55

    This incident is not Raikkonen’s fault, it is the FIA’s and their over-exaggeration on safety. Turn 5 and its tarmac runoff is ridiculous. The amount of tarmac out there means drivers can go off the track without losing too much time. Had there been a gravel trap 15 meters from the edge of the road with all tarmac in between, this accident would never of happened as Raikkonen would backoff before safely rejoining the circuit.
    This type of incident was always going to happen one race or another. A driver takes to the run-off (Kimi), and with so-much space to play with, he’ll take the straightest line possible. Too straight however, and you’ll hit something at high speed, as Kimi showed us as he went on the grass for a tenth of a second, enough to send him out of control into a barrier with 47g of force.

    • MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 7th July 2014, 16:59

      Are the FIA responsible for him choosing to drive straight over the grass at full throttle to rejoin the circuit? Surely that’s his decision. He could have chosen to rejoin the track within the confines of what you already admit is a very generous amount of tarmac runoff area.

    • Dave (@raceprouk) said on 7th July 2014, 17:27

      The FIM has just as much say in track design as the FIA.

    • petebaldwin (@petebaldwin) said on 7th July 2014, 18:06

      The tarmac runoffs aren’t designed to allow drivers to go off track and not lose time. They are designed to stop cars flipping over and are deemed safer than gravel or grass.

      If drivers choose to exploit this safety feature, that’s a whole different problem but you can’t blame the FIA for Kimi’s actions.

  12. Prateek727 (@prateek727) said on 7th July 2014, 16:58

    For the most part, I think Kimi deserved a penalty. You can understand why any driver would be keen to rejoin the circuit in a hurry, but the angle of re-entry was neither parallel enough nor oblique enough for proper traction. I’ve heard him criticized for not slowing down before rejoining the track, but I’m not sure that would have necessarily been safer considering 6-7 cars behind him were flying down the straight at 150+

  13. Rigi (@rigi) said on 7th July 2014, 17:09

    don’t think he should be penalised. he had to rejoin the track at some point, possibly didn’t know there was a bit of a bump where the grass starts and got caught up in it. maybe he should start doing trackwalks.

  14. jms said on 7th July 2014, 17:20

    NO! It was just a racing accident. Kimi quite honestly does not have record of causing accidents. He would have had it saved if it weren’t for that dang bump he hit which broke his suspension. Those of you who are saying he never left off the gas obviously have never slid on an icy & snowy road. You drive into your spin & keep you foot on the gas; let off & you are done. I feel badly for Massa.
    I don’t recall Maldanado receiving a race ban & how many accidents has he caused THIS SEASON?
    If you have to blame someone blame ferrari for building a awful car.

    • Dave (@raceprouk) said on 7th July 2014, 17:26

      It must be so convenient to ignore the flat and level tarmac he could have used instead.

      • Mcquiz (@mcquiz) said on 7th July 2014, 22:39

        Shut up, you cleary don’t know anything about driving. He was at a way too big of an angle to get through there at that speed, he tried to go through that bit but half of his car hit the grass and the drainage ditch. Of course you’d know this already if you would pay some attention.

  15. BJ (@beejis60) said on 7th July 2014, 17:26

    I think more info is needed about throttle position, gear selection, etc to paint an accurate picture of what happened inside the cockpit leading up to the incident.

    On another note, reading the comments at Buxton’s blog was pretty amusing, no matter what the users responded.

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