I’m bemused as to why no action was taken against Cecotto. Especially considering that they penalised him in Malaysia for doing something similar, but less-serious. At Sepang, he deliberately took a line that forced Sam Bird to drive off the circuit as an act of retaliation for impeding him. The two cars never made contact, and they were not travelling at any real speed since they were on in-laps at the time.
But here, Cecotto has made a mistake at Turn 10, and given Canamasas an opening to exploit. For once, Canamasas was the sensible driver, and while the corner he tried to pass Cecotto on is an unusual place to try an overtake, it looked like he had done enough to take the position until Cecotto chopped across him. It was a much sharper, much more sudden move than the one he pulled on Bird at Sepang. It was done at racing speeds, and the two cars made contact. And it appears to have been done for no other reason than to discourage Canamasas from overtaking, perhaps because such a move would have left Cecotto run around on the outside of the circuit, losing palces not only to Canamasas, but to Haryanto, Abt, and possibly even Rossi. In a worst-case scenario, he would have been so compromised that he would have been passed by Lancaster, Ceccon, Evans, Lemier and Leal down the main straight (that chicane having been designed to punish mistakes mercilessly). So that’s as many as eight positions that he stood to lose (though whether or not he was aware of how much was at stake is debateable). I’m not attempting to excuse his driving, or to try and justify such a dangerous, aggressive and blatantly intentional move – he made the mistake going into the hairpin, which left him vulnerable to losing a position, so if Canamasas or any of the others passed him, it would have been entirely his fault.
Given the severity of the incident and the way that Cecotto has faced serious penalites for similar antics this year, I would like to imagine that the stewards have deliberately remained silent on the issue so that they can discuss it at length and decide on an appropriate course of action, rather than just making a snap decision during the race, one that may be interpreted as being too light, too harsh, incorrect or open to some kind of appeal that may get it reversed. Instead, I’d like to believe that they will reconvene before Monaco and decide on the best way of dealing with it.
As for Haryanto’s penalty, I think it was undeserved, but I can also see why it was given. Whatever the circumtances behind it, two drivers made contact on the exit of Turn 12. Haryanto made contact with Abt and Canamasas on the approach to Turn 14. At the very least, he should have been aware that he was racing in a pack after two drivers made contact right in front of him, and while there may not have been a great distance between Turn 12 and Turn 14, the fact of the matter is that the cars had to navigate Turn 13, so Haryanto probably could have done more to avoid contact. However, if Haryanto gets punished and Cecotto escapes without sanction, it’s going to make an absolute mockery of things. If the stewards were, for whatever reason, unaware of the contact between Cecotto and Canamasas, then both Addax and Caterham – and possibly ART, since Abt was involved in the contact – would have made them aware of it.
However, there is another possible explanation for why no action has been taken, and unfortunately, it’s a darker one: money has changed hands. I’m not suggesting that anyone paid the stewards to leave Cecotto unscathed, but rather that the category is very expensive. GP2 is more expensive than ever before, as evidenced by the way drivers feature personal sponsors on their cars. Arden have Mitch Evans and Jonny Cecotto in their cars, and while Evans does provide sponsorship through the Giltrap Group, it would not surprise me if Cecotto’s sponsors are partially paying for Evans’ seat. Cecotto is a bit of a journeyman, racing for six teams in five years (David Price in 2009, Trident in 2010, Ocean in 2011, Addax in 2012, and now Arden in 2013; he also raced for Super Nova in the final GP2 Asia season). So he’s been around the paddock a lot, and while he’s had some results that are decent for the teams he was racing for, he’s managed to land a very good seat with Arden. In light of his results, it’s conceivable that Arden have asked for more money from his sponsors to subsidise Evans’ seat so that they could take Evans.
This is a problem because Arden would be putting all their eggs in one basket: they’re relying on Cecotto to keep their head above water. If Cecotto were to get a race ban, the sponsors would be unwilling to pay up, or may back out entirely, and this would put the immediate future of the team at stake. So Arden may have informed the category’s organisers that they are relying on Cecotto and his sponsors, and that the loss of that money would mean that they are unable to continue competing; if they are unable to compete, they may – depending on the rules – be hit with penalties for the failure to meet their obligations. And so the organisers might have decided to go easier on Cecotto for his on-track nonsense so that Arden can keep competing. Mitch Evans doesn’t deserve to lose his seat because his team-mate was an idiot. Of course, that’s no excuse, either, and if that is indeed the case, then it’s really all the proof that is needed that motorsport is simply too expenside.
And there’s one other explanation for all of this: the conditions under which a driver can be banned are so specific and restrictive – or, on the other hand, far too vague – that Cecotto hasn’t actually met the conditions for a race ban under the rules.