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 (31%)
  • No opinion (1%)

Total Voters: 569

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Image © Ferrari/Ercole Colombo

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225 comments on Should Raikkonen get penalty for Silverstone crash?

  1. Atticus (@atticus-2) said on 7th July 2014, 23:03

    I don’t think he should be penalized either. I think he took a risk which he perceived smaller than it really was – he was not taking that big risk on purpose.

    Now all drivers will examine these kind of bumps twice all along their track walks in the future, which seems like a lesson learned – no outside intervention needed, I believe that the drivers should learn where the boundaries and the limits are themselves, which is a far more efficient policy than forcing them to behave with rules. I think principles, not rules lead people forward – one without principles, only restrained by rules, would just… revert to an animal, if those rules would suddenly change to enable this.

  2. Corrado (@corrado-dub) said on 7th July 2014, 23:12

    No opinion.

    Hard to tell. He’s no Maldonado, Grosjean etc to get a race ban, at the same time he has some fault too, the track seems dated too in some aspects, so it’s like a combination of factors. Also, his life at Ferrari at the moment is a misery (with that car, so another factor that lead to that crash -> the car snapped 2 times at that corner, 2nd time throwing him off-track), so if it’s a must to hand him a penalty, a fine and/or a 10 pos penalty maximum seems OK.

  3. trotter said on 7th July 2014, 23:31

    I’m pleasantly surprised by the number of people who have good memory. I’m not the only one who remembers that Kimi has been abusing tarmac run-offs for a long time now. Spa always comes to mind, and I see others remember his run-off tactics from Spa too.

  4. MattyPF1 (@mattypf1) said on 8th July 2014, 0:30

    In tgis situation, Raikkonen isn’t the only one at fault hear. First of all, whilst he did continue off the track to gain advantage over Gutierrez, Gutierrez shouldve given Raikkonen more racing room. Also, and you’d be blind if you missed it, that dip in the grass was seriously dangerous. If you watched carefully, you could never say that Raikkonen’s car control was far from avergae, I think he did amazing to last as long as he did to hang on to his car and lucky too cause I think more that just Chilton and Massa would’ve be victim in that crash. But back to that dip, as Raikkonen re-entered the track, the back of his car went airbourne which sent him out of control. Now think about this, if the officials red flagged that session to fix a fence that no-one would’ve hit again, how did they not notice that ditch when they do the track inspections? So you gotta think, is Raikkonen really the one to blame?

  5. Paul A (@paul-a) said on 8th July 2014, 0:45

    No penalty, no way, no how. This is racing – what do you want? Goose down pillows and a comfy mattress? The drivers already have to back off for tyres, fuel, fuel flow, strategy, brake-by-wire, whatever, and now you want them to back off in a spot where they have been given the opportunity to drive fast? I want some decent, hard, flat out racing — not pussy-footing around, with the stewards acting like a school-maam taking 6-year-olds around a china shop.

    I’ve been saying it for years, gravel (or some equivalent) is the only way to keep them on track. They can do it on street circuits (99.9% of the time) and they would do it anywhere if they thought their race would be compromised.

    Keep the nanny-state out of F1, please.

  6. AldoH said on 8th July 2014, 3:03

    In the good ole days, before the “overregulated F1″, Nelson Piquet punched Eliseo Salazar´s helmet a couple of times and tried to kick him in the butt, and that was it. Felipe should be allowed to punch Kimi a couple of times (with the helmet on) and maybe kick the Ferrari´s sidepod on the way out.
    Enough with punishments.

  7. RV (@zenren) said on 8th July 2014, 6:04

    I don’t think Raikkonen should be penalized here because it is just the track and run-off area design that led to this incident. Soon after the point where Raikkonen merged back onto the track, the run off practically ends and leaves the driver with no place to go. Having a bump on the track side at a point where the wall is so close to the track is definitely dangerous and the designers should have known better. Also remember that we are taking the aerodynamics away from the driver in an effort to make the races more interesting.

    F1 is all about TV viewership and excitement these days more than pure racing and this accident was clearly spectacular to watch on TV!

  8. Chris Kiss (@bluechris) said on 8th July 2014, 8:31

    well it was for sure but to me it was spectacular as the head cutting in medieval ages in public squares… oufcourse that times people loved that show lol…. serius now.. the track needs fixing in that place and a warning to Raikkonen is enouph for me.

  9. BarbaraYung (@barbarayung) said on 8th July 2014, 9:49

    yse ! he should get penalty!!

  10. Adam said on 8th July 2014, 10:35

    Am I the only one who thinks that Raikkonen’s trajectory towards the circuit WAS the safest option?

    If you are off track you have two options, in my opinion, in order to join the circuit safely: the first is to slow or stop until all cars are passed, then rejoin the circuit. The other is to maintain the speed that every one else is going and gradually join the circuit.

    Why do I think that Raikkonen’s trajectory was safe? Because he was predictable for everyone around him. The speed differential was minimal, and the angle at which he was joining the circuit meant that other drivers had a better chance of noticing he was rejoining the circuit. It’s the same reason why merging lanes on motorways are long and gradual – so that drivers can get up to the same speed as the traffic on the motorway, and merge with the traffic.

    Could Raikkonen attempted to join the circuit a bit earlier? Perhaps, but a too sharp an entry angle could have caused an approaching driver to not notice Raikkonnen rejoining early enough. In this situation, at these speeds, it’s my opinion that the lower the entry angle, the safer.

    Now the accident was physically due to the fact that Raikkonen drove over a recess in the ground (ditch, drain, etc.). Had that part of the circuit been flat, grass or not, then Raikkonen would have likely rejoined the circuit without incident.

    Did Raikkonen know there was a ditch/drain/recess down the road when he decided how to re-enter the circuit? Would he have remembered it was there, or where exactly it started down the road, as he decided how to renter the circuit? Keep in mind that Raiikkonen’s decision was not made over a number of seconds. Could Raikone even see where the tarmac ended and the grass started?

    The fact that Raikkonen lost control, ended Massa’s and Kobayashi’s race, as well as putting Chilton in a dangerous position should not be taken into account when one considered a penalty, as they are consequential and a direct result of the ditch/drain being driven over. It is unknown if Raikkonen would have lost control had that part of circuit been flat. Had it been flat and Raikkonen rejoined, would people still be calling for a penalty?

    Raikkonen’s decision to match the speed of traffic he was entering, and trying to enter at a small angle to the racing line, to me, seems like a safe option. Raikkonen got caught out by a drain/ditch/recess in the ground that he may or may not of been aware of, both before the race or at the time he was rejoining the circuit.

    A broader question is, why is a ditch/drain there at that part of the circuit, right alongside the racing line? A driver that veers to the right and on to the grass is surely at risk of entering that ditch. The ditch would pull them in, and either launch them into the air, over the armco or send them straight into the armco at some speed. This is all hindsight after all, but a good question I feel nonetheless.

  11. Yobo01 (@yobo01) said on 8th July 2014, 10:35

    Maybe a small penalty or even just a reprimand. He’s usually a safe driver, but there’s no hiding the fact that what he did was careless.

    I don’t think that the bump in the grass can be considered as an excuse. Many people say that he could have checked in the track walk, but a driver can’t check every single piece on and off track, because the track walk would last days.
    That said, he had to be more careful. You can’t go full throttle on a piece of grass that you have never driven on, that’s careless. And it was lap 1, so there were several drivers around him, he had to be safer.

  12. Chris (@tophercheese21) said on 8th July 2014, 11:44

    It’s ironic isn’t it? If he’d done a track walk on Thursday, he would’ve known there was a dip there.

    In all seriousness, I don’t think he should get a penalty.

  13. Atomic Wolf (@atomicwolf) said on 8th July 2014, 12:25

    What a silly question !! Of course he shouldn’t be penalised for the accident. Next there’ll be a 10 grid penalty for changing your tyres, or a 5 sec stop and go for coming off at the chicane. If the drivers are not allowed to push the car to the limit, why are they paid so much? Anyone can drive a car that has a spike in a slot on the track !
    Maybe the track designers need to be fined for the way the rain gully was made? Maybe the spectators are to blame for wanting cars to go faster?
    Lets face it, it’s easy to put blame on one person in hindsight, because of what happened, but if he hadn’t taken anyone else out, nobody would have cared. I’m just thankful no-one was killed and we can carry on watching F1 with Kimi Raikkonen still in the drivers seat.

  14. Abuelo Paul (@abuello-paul) said on 8th July 2014, 12:30

    Apart from making the car a bit lighter momentarily the bump was insignificant. The real issue was the aggressive way in which the car was being driven whilst still on cool tyres. The lack of grip caused the initial deviation and compounded the re-entry to the track at a tight angle. There was no way he would continue in a straight line, the fishtailing showed exactly the amount of power being put down and the lack of traction. He acted like a novice trying to prove a point and almost caused serious injury to 2 other drivers. Definately should be penalised.

    • Lari (@lari) said on 8th July 2014, 20:33

      “Apart from making the car a bit lighter momentarily” that exactly was the problem, you don’t need more than that to make F1 car a flying bullet.

    • greg (@greg-c) said on 8th July 2014, 13:36

      @raceprouk
      @keithcollantine
      @velocityboy
      @hairs
      and all who question Kimi’s “unsafe re-entry”
      first video
      Pause it at 5 seconds
      then 6 seconds
      7 and 8 seconds and just see where Kimi is … then tell me who is around him, tell me who is affected by this “unsafe re-entry ?
      Granted , it was a serious crash that followed , a very serious crash, but it had nothing to do with Kimi’s 1 st re-entry to the track, it was his 2nd re-entry to the track (minus wheels and half the body work) that caused all the mess,

      • Dave (@raceprouk) said on 8th July 2014, 13:40

        It was the first re-entry that triggered the accident in the first place, therefore it was unsafe.

        Seriously, how can anyone question that? Or are those that question it just blind to the truth?

        • greg (@greg-c) said on 8th July 2014, 14:52

          @raceprouk
          quote
          “Seriously, how can anyone question that? Or are those that question it just blind to the truth?”

          I thinks it’s fair to question things,
          I would like to see Kimi’s onboard,
          and the data,
          Anyway’s I’ve got some beers , I’ll be over tomorrow after work to watch the new “Massa’a 50 funniest crashes” dvd,

        • greg (@greg-c) said on 8th July 2014, 14:55

          @raceprouk
          quote
          “Seriously, how can anyone question that? Or are those that question it just blind to the truth?”

          I thinks it’s fair to question things,

          I would like to see Kimi’s onboard,
          and if Kimi say’s it’s his mistake, then I’ll eat my hat, (as long as its chocolate)

          Anyway’s I’ve got some beers , I’ll be over tomorrow after work to watch the new “Massa’s 50 funniest crashes” dvd,

      • Hairs (@hairs) said on 8th July 2014, 14:08

        @greg-c It’s a number of elements:

        He went off the track initially, then decided to use the tarmac runoff to keep his foot in, avoid the first lap traffic, and gain an advantage. That’s clear from the footage and he has history doing it. That is dangerous, because he is racing on a surface which isn’t designed to be raced upon.

        He doesn’t attempt at any point to rejoin until he sees the tarmac runoff run out. At that point, he is forced to rejoin whether there is space or not. He is now boxed into a very dangerous corner: drive an f1 car at high speed across the grass, where it risks digging in and flipping over (the reason grass was replaced with tarmac in the first place), or barge back into the pack. To rejoin safely, he needs to do it at a reasonable speed, and where there is ample space to do so.

        But as he refused to give up his free tarmac advantage, he doesn’t have a choice now. So he just points the car and hopes. But he’s left it too late: the tarmac runs out, he hits the astroturf/grass, and the car digs in and bounces (just like it would have on the grass if he’d kept straight). Now he’s nothing more than a high speed missile with no control.

        He tried to abuse the track to gain an advantage when he shouldn’t have. He didn’t rejoin at a slower speed when he had the opportunity. He travelled far too fast. He waited far too long. He ran out of road and made a desperate lunge. These were all his own choices, they were all the wrong choices, and they almost killed drivers and marshals. Everything he did in that video is reckless and unsafe, apart from the initial mistake which put him off the track.

        You speak as though the penalty applies because he went off track. It wouldn’t. It would be due to the decisions he made after he went off the track.

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