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 (17%)
  • Slightly agree (29%)
  • Neither agree nor disagree (6%)
  • Slightly disagree (16%)
  • Strongly disagree (30%)
  • No opinion (2%)

Total Voters: 571

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Image © Ferrari/Ercole Colombo

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225 comments on Should Raikkonen get penalty for Silverstone crash?

  1. tmekt (@tmekt) said on 7th July 2014, 19:33

    I wonder if he even knew that the grass he drove over was there. He might have remembered (from the track-walk or practice sessions) that there was some sort of tarmac area there to safely join the track but not that it didn’t cover the whole side of the run-off (as they usually do nowadays). As the vision from the cockpit is pretty limited he probably couldn’t see where and when the tarmac ended and grass started and was caught by surprise. Once he was on the grass there wasn’t really anything he could’ve done, as you can’t brake there (and I doubt he was on the gas anymore when he noticed where he was).

    Just felt like speculating, this doesn’t (necessarily) have anything to do with reality.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 7th July 2014, 23:03

      He might have remembered (from the track-walk or practice sessions) that there was some sort of tarmac area there to safely join the track but not that it didn’t cover the whole side of the run-off

      thing is, though @tmekt, that Kimi is an exception in the field because he tends not to do such track walks. Maybe he should start doing them again.

      • tmekt (@tmekt) said on 8th July 2014, 7:34

        @bascb

        Well that’s what people seem to think (Kimi never doing those) and I’m sure they have good reason to do so but I don’t usually go to the track walks myself so I wouldn’t know if Kimi goes there or not.

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 8th July 2014, 8:12

          You can’t “go to track walks” unless you are a team member. But Kimi is confirmed NOT to have done one here in Silverstone @tmekt, and most likely hasn’t done them for any track unless maybe it was a new track for him in the last year or so.

          • tmekt (@tmekt) said on 8th July 2014, 9:14

            @bascb – Alright well if it was confirmed. Can’t argue that, just haven’t seen anything anywhere about whether he was there or not. Regardless though he has the possibility to drive around the track for about five hours in different sessions before the race so he should know his way around pretty well even if he hasn’t walked “enough” on Wednesday/Thursday.

            And yeah well all the more so if I couldn’t even go there if I wanted. I have no idea which drivers go there and which don’t.

            (This is pretty pointless as a discussion…I actually agree that he should be penalized in some way)

  2. gas1978 said on 7th July 2014, 19:39

    Im a huge kimi fan, but this time he was totally at fault, the same happened in 08 when he spun while battling with lewis, and he has gone off track on le source a couple of times, not to mention when he went through eau rouge in the mclaren with smoke that impaired his vision

  3. Alesici (@alesici) said on 7th July 2014, 20:12

    I don’t think Kimi should be penalised. I think he’s feeling the penalty right now…

    If you want to see a dangerous example of a car rejoining, this is my favourite. Paul Tracy at his very dumbest, followed by a deserved dressing down in the pit:

    Incidentally, it’s worth stressing that it was the tire carcass that hit Chilton’s car, though that does still have some heft to it. Also, he did say he saw a flash of silver, so maybe the wheel that the carcass had departed just missed him.

  4. jjfrazz said on 7th July 2014, 20:20

    To me, the simple fact that the smooth “track-like” stretch of asphalt, run-off area, allowed the cars to get within a few feet of the track, and then leave a “gap” of no return, to send cars airborne, is worse than letting them race with a broken piece of guardrail! If any driver had been pushed wide at that same spot, there would have been a huge crash. I think the track must take full responsibility for this accident, and look for other potential accidents waiting to happen around the circuit.

    • Dave (@raceprouk) said on 7th July 2014, 21:56

      Got to love how so many people choose to ignore the nice flat tarmac before the gulley starts, and how it is the driver’s responsibility to rejoin in a safe manner.

  5. Velocityboy (@velocityboy) said on 7th July 2014, 20:25

    The onus is on the driver to re-enter the track in a safe manner. Kimi didn’t so he should be penalized. Simple. The speed, size of run off area etc are irrelevant. Did he re-enter in a safe manner is the only question and the answer to that question is no.

  6. tmax (@tmax) said on 7th July 2014, 20:34

    How about the issue of the bump with the track ? We are speaking about machines that run at 100+ miles per hour in these corners . Kimi did not cause this with a motive that was questionable but more because there was a bump. Should’nt it be the duty of the track officials to ensure that such kerbs and bump be taken care of ?

    I believe that he should not be penalized.

    • tmax (@tmax) said on 7th July 2014, 20:36

      I must also admit that It was a scary accident. The way the car was spinning reminded me of Senna’s fatal carsh at Tamberalla corner. Happy that he is safe.

  7. SundarF1 (@sundarf1) said on 7th July 2014, 20:43

    If I remember correctly, Grosjean’s race ban was not only about his actions and their consequences at Spa. The stewards took into account the numerous occasions on which he had been involved in incidents at the start and during the races as well. On that basis Raikkonen should be given enough warnings before being banned. Besides, I think he was unlucky to hit that drain or gulley whatever it was because it’s not something you notice and keep track off during a normal lap, and it was probably too late for him to avoid it anyway. But it was indeed careless to rejoin at full speed, so I’d say a few penalty points on his licence or a three place grid drop should be more than enough.

  8. SauberS1 (@saubers1) said on 7th July 2014, 21:07

    I strongly disagree.

  9. bull mello (@bullmello) said on 7th July 2014, 21:25

    Kimi could have rejoined safely if the gully, gutter, ditch, bump (whatever) had not been there. That area of the track had been reworked recently, according to reports. The grass replaced there could possibly have been covering any potential hazards. The chances of knowing any hazards might lie under or around that grass are quite slim at best. Even more staggering are the chances of actually hitting that particular spot.

    The possibility that something broke on Kimi’s car after hitting that spot seems reasonable. Very difficult from the available video to know for sure, but the left rear looks a bit out of sorts as he is pitched back onto the track. Could just be the physical forces on the tire and suspension making them look distorted or they may not be completely intact. With the subsequent aftermath of the rest of the incident we never be able to know for sure just based on examining his car. Maybe telemetry can provide some evidence.

    I wonder if Kimi’s car had issues leading to his off track excursion. The two strange, but obvious twitches seen from Alonso’s on board camera seemed rather odd. Even when Kimi went off it didn’t seem like he was forced off as much as it was massive understeer, or something. Again, we may never know.

    I’m not sure if a penalty would resolve anything. Not trying to excuse what happened, but there are as many unanswered questions as there are facts regarding this incident. Ultimately a driver is responsible for what actions he can control and if a penalty is justified, so be it.

    Since the track officials are so safety conscious, maybe they will revisit that area of the track again and see if there is a better solution. Obviously, it is an impossible task to remove every potential hazard in such a dangerous sport.

    The main point of all this has to be the remarkable safety precautions already in place and designed into the cars. That and the absolutely brilliant driving reaction by Felipe Massa. It’s a huge relief we are able to discuss whether or not a penalty is justified compared to what could have been much worse. I’ll take that any day!

  10. socksolid (@socksolid) said on 7th July 2014, 21:31

    The way I see it the bump is practically invisible from the cockpit. Even if kimi had driven really slowly over it when returning to track he could have still spun and collected few cars. Everybody seems to assume the crash happened because kimi was going too fast. I don’t really see if going slower would have prevented his crash. Not to mention that rejoining the track really slowly is dangerous as well. We see drivers rejoining the track after running wide all the time and nobody has suggested giving penalties if they come back to the track too fast.

    Also there is a difference between losing a control or coming back on track in unsafe manner. That saucek’s incident is a totally different one. First of all he comes back on the track in mid turn straight on the racing line and then spins because he comes back on track at so perpendicularly that it is almost guaranteed to spin when you do it like that. Both are dangerous and would have been easily avoidable had he not entered the track mid turn and had he taken more safe approach. In kimi’s incident I don’t see the outcome necessarily changing if kimi had slowed more. Kimi could have chosen earlier entry point but that would have made him come back on the track at greater angle which is unsafe.

    Kimi did choose his re-entry position further away from the corner which is also safer as it allows him to rejoin the track at smaller angle. Saucek basically enter the track at 90 degrees. He spins because he wants to get back on the track too soon. He can’t even see where other cars when he is coming back on track because of that. Kimi was more aware of other cars and the cars near him, could use his mirror and looking left to see if there are other cars there and the other cars could also see him and avoid him… until he hit the bump and lost it, hit the wall and then came back over.

    Penalty? For what exactly? His entry point looked like the safest option until we found there is a bump. For too much speed? Going slower might have not prevented his spin and when rejoining the track the bigger the speed difference the more dangerous it becomes.

    I find it sad that runoffs need to be so perfectly smooth that drivers can drive off the track and be faster. But at the same time there can be these bumps that can cause compression fractures and cause drivers to lose control or break the car. Good thing kimi did not break his back going over that bump.

    • greg-c (@greg-c) said on 8th July 2014, 6:41

      +1
      I’m inclined to think something broke on the car and jinked it hard right into the wall,

      I feel Massa could have done more to avoid that accident . look at where he hit the Ferrari, Far left of track, even with the dust and debris in the air he chose to closely follow Kamui and when the Caterham left the road Massa was exposed to a stricken Ferrari and he lost control and hit it sideways,

  11. James said on 7th July 2014, 22:07

    Yes, in my view he should receive a 5 or 10 place grid penalty, I remember last year when Pic rejoined the track at the bus stop chicane in a practice sessionand got a reprimand, and that incident was about one hundred times less serious than this incident, Raikkonen shouldn’t get a a race ban as he never intended to crash or expect a crash from rejoining the track, however a moderate penalty for a careless error of judgement would be fair, it only takes a small mistake for something serious to happen, the FIA cannot condone careless driving, whether it is a rookie or an experienced driver.

  12. Nick (@npf1) said on 7th July 2014, 22:16

    To me it’s pretty simple; the reaction wasn’t intended, but the action that led to the reaction was; rejoining at full speed in the middle of the pack. Kimi should be given a grid drop of 3 places or so, with clarification that the way he rejoined allowed this situation to happen.

  13. taurus (@taurus) said on 7th July 2014, 22:20

    Ridiculous debate.
    There was a crash, lets move on rather than demand someone gets blamed for it shall we?
    I am amazed that some think Raikkonen should know there is a bump two metres off the track just because he walked round it on Thursday.
    Some wont be happy until we are watching races around a bunch of traffic cones in a giant car park.
    Put the gravel traps back in. Dont recall anyone getting hurt by them. Problem solved.
    I’d rather Alonso and Vettel get a race ban for crying like babies for lap after lap.
    JUST RACE

    • Dave (@raceprouk) said on 7th July 2014, 23:29

      The whole point of a track walk is precisely to find out where the gulleys etc are.

      Put the gravel traps back in. Dont recall anyone getting hurt by them. Problem solved.

      And greatly increase the chances of rolling. Yeah, that’s a good idea.

      • taurus (@taurus) said on 7th July 2014, 23:54

        Track walk. Not find the bump two metres off the track where you are highly unlikely to go walk. If they went looking for every mound off the side of the circuits track walks would last 18 hours. And what driver in their right mind is going to be thinking “ooh theres a bump there” when rejoining the track??
        In all the years I’ve been watching F1 I can only remember Trulli at Silverstone 2004 (?) flipping because of a gravel trap.
        The gravel traps are a better solution than a driver coming back onto a circuit from a tarmac run off at 180mph.
        Health and safety pap is ruining this sport.

  14. Dan said on 7th July 2014, 22:42

    Now if this was Maldanado…

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