Sutil and Raikkonen go unpunished after another clash costs Force India a point

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Sutil was running in front of Rosberg before his crash with Raikkonen

Not for the first time, Force India were on course for their first points finish until Adrian Sutil had a collision.

And also not for the first time, that collision was with Kimi Raikkonen. But unlike Monaco last year Raikkonen is not to blame – and happily the stewards have decided not to punish either driver.

Having qualified seventh Adrian Sutil was predictably swamped by the KERS cars at the start of the German Grand Prix. But thanks to Lewis Hamilton’s puncture, the Force India driver was at least able to run eighth in the opening stages.

With more fuel on board than anyone in the top ten after qualifying, Sutil was well-placed, and stayed within around three seconds of Kimi Raikkonen. As the cars in front of him peeled into the pits one by one he was lying second by lap 25.

He had been 1.4s behind Raikkonen before the Finn made his pit stop, but on his way to the pits Sutil lost 0.6s to his rivals. As he came out of the pits on lap 27, the F60 was right alongside.

The pair went into the first corner together and Sutil stuck to the racing line. Raikkonen on the outside was, if anything, fractionally ahead, and the pair made contact, stripping off part of Sutil’s front wing.

That forced him to make an immediate return to the pits, wrecking his race.

Had Sutil not tried to force the issue with Raikkonen, where would he have finished? He was probably on course to lose a position to Nico Rosberg, who pitted after him, and finished fourth. The two Brawns were on Rosberg’s tail at the end of the race.

At worst, therefore, it looks like seventh place or better was on the cars for Sutil. That would have been Force India’s first point and Sutil’s second points finish, adding to the point he scored at Fuji in 2007.

Was either driver to blame for the collision? To me it looked like a racing incident – neither driver really gave the other enough room. It’s possible Sutil wasn’t entirely aware of Raikkonen’s position relative to his, but it’s his team’s job to keep him informed of that kind of thing.

Unusually, I agree with the stewards on this one. After the race they declared:

The stewards received a report from the race director which stated that an incident involving car number four – Kimi Raikkonen – and car number 20 – Adrian Sutil – took place during the race.

The stewards after hearing the explanation of both the competitors representatives and the drivers decided that the incident requires no further action.

Do you agree with the decision?

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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49 comments on “Sutil and Raikkonen go unpunished after another clash costs Force India a point”

  1. i personally think raikkonen is to blame for this one. during the race we saw a lot of cars exiting the pits with heavy understeer and running very wide, raikkonen should have known this, he had no need to hang his car out around the outside, with kers and hot tyres he should have been able to breeze past sutil rather than try and hang on round the outside and risk a collision which ruined another drivers’ race.

    1. …and more to the point, this happened around mid race distance. why was the descision not made during the race? i can see no benefit in delaying the descision.

      1. Andrew White
        12th July 2009, 17:13

        As I understand it, the stewards were investigating it, but then Raikkonen retired, so he couldn’t be given a punishment in the race. For this reason, the stewards decided to leave it until afterwards.

        1. Actually they had already decided that it would be investigated afterwards before Raikkonen retired, it came up on the graphic straight away. Strange how many incidents involving Ferraris are investigated only after the race, when all others are applied during it. This happened a lot last year as well.

      2. I don’t know how many people are going to fail to see that Raikkonen retired pretty soon after the incident.

        1. With an unrelated failure.

      3. It looked like a race incident, so there was no need for the stewards to respond during the race with a punishment.

        To me, it’s logical in a situation where it looks like a race incident, to dicsuss the matter with the people involved and base judgement on reviewing not only the footage, but also the comments from the drivers/teams. I just hope that the stewards really follow this logic.

        1. well if you look at the position of the cars when sutil exited the pits you can clearly see that raikonen can see sutil, weather or not adrian could see kimi, i don’t know, this acident is very similar to bourdais and massa at fuji last year.

          however i think that no peanalties should have been given out this race, the penalty on webber was pathetic, if the f.i.a wants good racing then they should allow some bumping around, neither car was damaged or lost substatial time from the action and i think it is just stupid

  2. I do think it was a blameless incident – although perhaps the precedent set by the Massa-Bourdais incident a while back suggest Sutil was lucky to escape punishment :)

    Where I do think some blame may lie, however, is that teams do seem to treat Force India cars as an irritating inconvenience that should know to get out of the way, whether it’s on pitbox release (Valencia last year) or today.

  3. What I noticed was that Fisichella was in the TV picture when Sutil came out of the pit. It was all pretty close together.

    If Sutil had taken his place behind Raikkonen, he would have ended up just before Kovalainen. Maybe he would have finished in 8th place?

    On the other hand, maybe we could have had a nice scrap for 7th between Alonso and Sutil.

  4. I think that this was a simple race accident. I am quite surprised how we are not discussing the mess at the start performed by Webber.

    First he hits Barrichello
    then he taps Hamilton’s rear tire.

    Sadly this tainted his otherwise spectacular win.

    1. He did cause that incident, he takes full blame for it and he was duly punished for it. Issue resolved. As far as I can see, there is nothing left to discuss.

      1. He wasn’t punished for Hamilton’s puncture. Not sure I’d blame Webber for that though.

  5. Alonso's fan
    12th July 2009, 17:46

    It is not the 1st time Kimi hits Sutil . Sutil entered 1st in the turn and Kimi behaved as if it is car 1 lap behind . Had to be punish

    1. That’s coming from an Alonso fan! :)

  6. Definitely wasn’t Kimi’s fault…but I’m sure the Kimi haters will come up will something.

    1. I fail to see how Raikkonen could be held responsible for this incident. He was on the outside, all the way to the edge of the circuit and had his nose slightly ahead (otherwise his wheel couldn’t have hit Sutil’s front wing). He didn’t move abruptly; he simply held his line and they came together.

      If Kimi had just lifted off and let Sutil have the spot, then people would’ve accused him of going to sleep, or drinking too much vodka or something.

      I think any penalty for either driver would’ve been thoroughly undeserved. They’re racing, after all. But it’s a shame that Sutil missed out again.

  7. he was lying second by lap 25

    Just a typographical suggestion, Keith: It may be useful to use numerals like “2nd” for positions and full words “1 second” for time related stuff – that sentence threw me off for a second (sorry about the pun)! It’s probably just me though, so feel free to ignore.

    1. I know what you mean, it’s always a compromise. But I prefer the convention of first, second, third… tenth, 11th, 12th etc…

  8. Joachim Michel von Grabner
    12th July 2009, 18:13

    F1 racing has become as boring and as tiresome in value as Indy racing..
    Both venues pray on the unsuspecting..
    I found myself regarding European Touring Car racing as an exciting Motor-sport event giving the fans a real race feel without the baggage which F1 and Indy seem to be going from race to race..
    After decades of watching both sports, all they seem to come up with are tiring moments of routines much like watching Golf combined with the agonizing events of synchronized swimming…

    The people deserve better..
    nake motor racing watchable..

    An idea, enlist people from the Leman racing serious to
    toss ideas at Ecclestone and Mr *Porn* Mosley… When Schumacher left F1, boredom came..

  9. Personally, I think it was a racing incident.
    The drivers spoke to each other after the race & accepted it as such. Apparently so did the Stewards.

  10. it’s just such rotten luck for Sutil, who was mighty impressive and FI deserve some points…. that’s racing

  11. I’m impressed by Sutil’s mature response and the comments from Force India’s management too. He and they could have milked this pretty well, but they’ve taken the high ground. Remarkable.

    1. My sentiment too. I’m slowly turning from a STR underdog fan to a Force India underdog fan – they showed true class on several levels during the last few races ;-).

      As much as Sutil is continuing to impress me, I can’t get anything from Fisi’s driving.
      Maybe his spot should be given to another ‘likely-free’ senior driver next year (e.g. Rubens)?

  12. Neither driver gave way and one of them came off second best – end of story.

  13. ‘When Schumacher left F1, boredom came!’

    An interesting statement for all of us who experienced the 2002 and 2004 seasons, inwhich Ferrari and Schumacher blitzed the opposition and many of the grands prix were snoozefests.
    For that I blame the other teams and drivers, but no one can say F1 was that exciting to watch back then, compared to how it was in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.
    As for the incident concerning Raikkonen and Sutil, I would say it was a 50/50. Both drivers wanted the corner, and both could have played it safe in order to protect there cars and positions. But they are racing drivers, not commuters, and it was a move that would always end in tears.
    I feel sorry for Sutil. After Monaco 2008 he must curse everytime he sees Raikkonen’s Ferrari in his mirrors. Up until that moment, the German had driven a very mature race.
    As for Raikkonen, his career appears in the mire. Yet again Felipe Massa out performes him, yet again another car lets him down. Tough break for both men.

    1. Yeah I’d agree with that! 2002 and 2004 were the worst seasons of F1 for me. I’d say it’s gotten better since Schumacher left, partly thanks to Ferrari abandoning their ‘favoured driver’ policy.

  14. Why was this decided after the race, and the Webber penalty deciding during the race?

    Correct decision in the end IMO, do not the sporting regs say that at that time in the race (i.e. not near the end), the decision should have been made during??

    1. Why was this decided after the race, and the Webber penalty deciding during the race?

      Because the stewards are a bit of a shambles?

    2. …do not the sporting regs say that at that time in the race (i.e. not near the end), the decision should have been made during??

      That would require them to actually work during the race.

      Their statement

      The stewards received a report from the race director which stated that an incident involving car number four – Kimi Räikkönen – and car number 20 – Adrian Sutil – took place during the race.

      paints the picture, that they aren’t even watching the race! They are just sitting there, twiddling their thumbs till the race director sends them some report.
      Then they say, “Oh schucks – not again another report!”, drop their beers and watch some replays. Then they call Luca and ask him what to do …

  15. Florida Mike
    13th July 2009, 1:04

    FOX TV coverage reported that the stewards had declared, in a pre-race driver’s meeting, that cars on the track had the right-of-way to cars exiting pit lane, and that cars exiting the pit should slow or yield. If that were the case, it seems like Sutil could have received a penalty, but maybe the stewards saw him gain no advantage and let the results be the punishment.

    1. What you said makes sense. And also is the fact that Kimi was out of the racing, so nobody fault is best solution, I guess.

    2. Bourdais got a penalty for exactly the same incident in a collision with Massa at Fuji 2008.

      Actually, in that case Massa still had plenty room to his left and could have given way. In this case Raikkonen was already pushed off track and had nowhere to go.

    3. Exactly so, Florida Mike.
      39.2 During the race, drivers leaving the pit lane may only do so when the light at the end of the pit lane is green and on their own responsibility. A marshal with a blue flag and/or a flashing blue light, will also warn the driver if cars are approaching on the track.
      This happened right on the apex so I think it was more of a racing incident but, if push came to shove, it could have been argued that the onus was on the car leaving the pits (with low tyre temperature & lower speed) manoevre out of the way of a car which was in the braking zone at top speed.
      That could have ended with Sutil having a penalty in the next race which, quite honestly, probably nobody would have liked to see.

  16. I think Sutil should have let go, as he was having cold tyres.But it was a racing incident.

    Should the Stewards decides penalties after the race?
    Please let me know what you think.

  17. Kimi is a very carefull driver,so i don’t think it’s noi definetely fault of him,why sutil had been so fast?the pressure of some cars after him?tried to past an ferrari or some cars in the top is so danger for a slowly car like a force india,he could past if he absolutely success..if not,he should drove as carefull as he can,maintain it,he could take the eighth place…why he had to risked to gain another point ?so carelessly . …..
    P/s : vietnamese watcher so i’m not good at english,i’ll improve it,so sorry…

  18. Bigbadderboom
    13th July 2009, 9:41

    If every monouvere that results in the slightest of contacts is investigated ,it hardly encourages drivers to put moves on each other does it.

  19. 50/50 for me, so no penalties is the right decision, but summer’s here and the stewards are getting meddlesome again.

    But credit to the stewards if they delayed the decision so they could hear both drivers’ stories after the race.

    That first corner at the Nurburgring will be a nightmare with properly cold tyres…are tyre warmers still banned for 2010?

  20. I thought it was a racing incident so I am glad the stewards decided not to punish anyone. The way the stewards have been lately I thought they have handed out a penalty to either driver.

  21. I can’t understand why all the talk on BBC coverage and on here is of whether Kimi should have been punished or not. If the Ferrari had been damaged in the collision, there would have been a strong argument for penalising Sutil (I’m not a Ferrari fan by any means) – but since it was the Force India that suffered, there was no need for a penalty.

    Sutil was defending his position, allowing his car to run wide on the exit in order to stop Kimi passing him. This is a tactic used at all levels of motorsport, including F1 (e.g. Alonso blocking Hamilton in Barcelona this year). Adrian was slightly tentative under braking into the first corner, on cold tyres, so Kimi was able to get his nose in front around the outside and the block didn’t work.

    The stewards need to sort out, and ideally explain, why they feel they can decide on certain issues during the race but not on other, near-identical ones until afterwards.

    1. lol – For much the same reason as when Schumacher did something it was considered wrong & should be punished but when Button, Vettel, Hamilton do something
      “Schumacheresque” it’s seen as brilliant driving.

      We shouldn’t forget that Schumacher was the man who outshone Martin B & so had much to do with his career ending ;)
      If you saw the full Schumacher interview on the BBC site he spoke of why viewers didn’t get to see the real Michael when he was racing. He was quite frank in saying it was down to who he could trust.

  22. Yes it was more of a racing accident, but Kimi could have eased off after he had gone off the track. I’ve seen the FIA give penalties for less. But all the same cant argue with the decision.

    1. Yes, like in Fuji 2008 where they penalised Bourdais for a collision with Massa after Bourdais came out of the pits.

      Sutil should probably have been punished here, but I guess they felt sorry for him and he was punished already by his wing coming off.

  23. @Siy, I think the stewards could afford to push this one off till later as Kimi was more likely to have been seen as being at fault and was unlikely to get any in race punishment.Bourdais and Massa had a similar coming together once. I seem to recall a situation where the stewards have handed a grid demotion while a race was going on. Perhaps I’m wrong.

    1. Bourdais got a drive through penalty for the same thing that Sutil did.

      Sutil later stated that he intentionally blocked Raikkonen (ie ran him off the road)

  24. So much depends on the actual rules.
    The Sporting Code was changed on 2 July (yes, again, did anyone know?)
    Sometimes F1 has exceptions but, as far as I can tell the new rules apply across the board. If someone spots this isn`t F1 relevant then please let me know because I’m presuming it is
    See page 16 of 18. Article 2. Overtaking.

  25. that’s called racing, u know! both drivers wanted the position, they fought for it into the corner, and paid the price. Sutil was just unfortunate again. Check out more here

  26. Bigbadderboom said it best. F1 wants exciting driving and passing but the slightest thing is always punished making drivers tentative. I would have gone crazy if they gave Raikkonen a ten grid penalty for that. Can you imagine getting a similar punishment Hamilton got for plowing into Raikkonen at Montreal in a speed controlled pitlane?

    I think the main thing all these journalists keep forgetting about Raikkonen costing Sutil again is the fact Sutil overtoke three cars illegally under caution in Monaco and would have been given a 25 second penalty anyway giving him zero points last year. Therefore, he should have not even been there for Raikkonen to take out in the first place.

  27. Gotta think Mallya, Suitl, and company will throw a mega-bash for Kimi if he really dose retire this year :)

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