Do the punishments fit the crimes?

Posted on

| Written by

BAR were thrown out of a total of three races in 2005

It’s highly unusual to see the FIA’s international court of appeal soften a penalty that’s been handed down to a team. But that’s exactly what happened to Renault yesterday as their one-race ban was withdrawn and they were given just a $50,000 fine.

In recent years we’ve seen multi-race bans, championship exclusions and $100m fines handed down by the FIA. Does Renault’s comparatively light punishment make sense when compared with other major controversies?

2005: BAR’s fuel tank

What the team did: BAR driver Jenson Button and Takuma Sato finished third and fifth in the San Marino Grand Prix that year. But when their cars were drained of fuel following the race – including a secondary reservoir within the fuel tank – they fell beneath the minimum weight limit.

What the FIA said: “The inspection revealed that on top of the 160 grams of fuel that was emptied, 8.92 kg of fuel still remained in a special compartment within the fuel tank and a further 2.46 kg remained in the bottom of the fuel tank. These quantities remained in the vehicle after the BAR Honda team had confirmed ‘That’s it’ when asked if the draining process was completed.”

How they were punished: Both BARs disqualified from the San Marno Grand Prix and excluded from the next two rounds, the Spanish and Monaco Grands Prix.

Read more

2007: McLaren at the Hungaroring

Fernando Alonso blocked Lewis Hamilton in the pits during qualifying

What the team did: Fernando Alonso is observed to wait in his pit box during qualifying for an unusual length of time while team mate Lewis Hamilton queues behind him. Because of the delay, Hamilton is unable to complete his final lap in qualifying. McLaren later admit Hamilton had refused to let Alonso past under instruction earlier in the session.

What the FIA said: “Alonso was asked why he waited for some 10 seconds before leaving the pits after being given the signal to leave. His response was that he was enquiring as to whether the correct set of tyres had been fitted to his car. When asked why this conversation did not take place during the 20 second period when his car sat stationary all work on it having been completed, it was stated that it was not possible to communicate by radio because of the countdown being given to him.”

How they were punished: The points scored by McLaren during the race did not count towards their constructors’ championship total (a subsequent penalty rendered this irrelevant) and their representatives – except for Hamilton – are not allowed onto the podium after the race. Alonso is moved back five places on the grid.

Read more

2007: McLaren ‘spying’

McLaren were found guilty of stealing Ferrari's intellectual property

What the team did: McLaren designer Mike Coughlan is given a 780-page dossier by Ferrari’s Nigel Stepney, the contents of which are discussed by several people at McLaren.

What the FIA said: “The WMSC has full jurisdiction to apply Article 151(c)* and stresses that it is not necessary for it to demonstrate that any confidential Ferrari information was directly copied by McLaren or put to direct use in the McLaren car to justify a finding that Article 151(c) was breached and/or that a penalty is merited. Nor does the WMSC need to show that any information improperly held led to any specifically identified sporting advantage, or indeed any advantage at all. Rather, the WMSC is entitled to treat possession of another team’s information as an offence meriting a penalty on its own if it so chooses.”

How they were punished: McLaren are thrown out of the 2007 constructors’ championship, fined $100m, and must have their 2008 car inspected by the FIA to ensure that certain specified technologies are not present.

Read more

2007: Renault ‘spying’

A Renault engineer was found to have McLaren data

What the team did: During the Ferrary spying hearing, McLaren claims that a former engineer named Phil Mackereth took confidential information from McLaren to Renault when he moved jobs between the two teams.

What the FIA said: “While McLaren is right to be extremely concerned about its employee taking information upon his departure, the concern of the WMSC is not with what Mackereth took. This is a matter between McLaren and its former employee. The WMSC is concerned with what Renault had access to or was influenced by as only this could have had an impact on the Championship.”

How they were punished: Renault are not penalised: “due to the lack of evidence that the championship has been affected,” according to the FIA.

Read more

2009: McLaren lying

Lewis Hamilton gave third place to Jarno Trulli, then lied about it

What the team did: Lewis Hamilton passes Jarno Trulli during a safety car period in Australia, then lets the Toyota past after discussion with his team. They later tell the stewards they did not choose to let Trulli past.

What the FIA said: “The WMSC considers – and McLaren has accepted – that sole responsibility cannot lie with the team manager who misled the stewards and who procured Hamilton to do likewise. Rather, the course of conduct occurred over such a period of time that the WMSC finds that McLaren’s management either were aware or should have been aware that the stewards had been misled.”

How they were punished: A three-race suspension, suspended for 12 months. Lewis Hamilton disqualified from Australian Grand Prix.

Read more

2009: Red Bull and Vettel’s crash

Vettel tried to keep going after a crash in Melbourne

What the team did: Sebastian Vettel crashes late in the race, sustaining heavy damage. He tries to continue driving despite various components having come loose.

What the FIA said: The incident was not taken to an appeal. The stewards of the meeting claim Red Bull committed an infraction by telling Vettel to keep driving even though he had lost a wheel.

How they were punished: $50,000 fine.

2009: Renault and Alonso’s wheel

Fernando Alonso has been un-banned from the European Grand Prix

What the team did: During the Hungarian Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso’s car lost a wheel following a pit stop.

What the FIA said: “Renault knowingly released car number seven (driver Fernando Alonso) from the pit stop position without one of the retaining devices for the wheel-nuts being securely in position”

How they were punished: $50,000 fine. The original punishment handed down by the stewards of a one-race ban was rescinded.

Read more

Fair and consistent?

Renault’s reduced penalty for the Hungaroring incident now matches the one handed down to Red Bull at Melbourne. But is it enough of a deterrent to prevent teams from taking risks with driver safety?

The scale of some of the punishments is hard to fathom – after McLaren’s huge penalty following the spygate affair, the complete lack of any penalty for Renault – even a proportionally smaller one – led to suggestions that personal differences between FIA president Max Mosley and then McLaren team principal Ron Dennis was what made the difference.

It’s also interesting to consider McLaren’s spygate penalty in the light of BAR’s two years previously. Why was a fine not imposed on BAR, and why were McLaren not given a multi-race ban? Again, it’s easy to jump to the cynical conclusion that banning McLaren from races in 2007 would have ruined an engrossing championship battle.

There is not much that rivals McLaren’s 2007 penalty for sheer size. Tyrrell’s exclusion from the 1984 season is perhaps the best example, and 25 years later that is viewed by many as a trumped-up charge, much of which was ultimately disproven, and a punishment that was levied for political reasons.

How well do these punishments fit the crimes? Which penalties were too harsh – or too soft? Have your say in the comments.

*”Any fraudulent conduct or any act prejudicial to the interests of any competition or to the interests of motor sport generally.”

Author information

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

60 comments on “Do the punishments fit the crimes?”

  1. Renault’s fine I still think is harsh since Ferrari were not fined for Raikkonen’s exhaust pipe.

    1. Max should resign now!!!
      18th August 2009, 20:43


      1. What you really mean is Ferrari got off, rather than Renault getting it harsh.

  2. I think that in formula 1 we cannot see a very consistent punishment strategy. In my opinion, for example, McLaren had to be banned from the championship, because of the spy-story, but this did not happen.
    In my opinion there should be a harsh punishment for teams or drivers that are demonstrated to conduct fraudolently (spy story, “technical” fraud, lies to the stewards, or Alonso greatly long pit stop in 2007…) while I would not punish so hard teams that clearly fails not willingly, as Renault in Hungary, or drivers that cause an accident during overtake actions.
    In general I don’t like stop and go’s, time penalties and similar…

  3. Agree with slr.

  4. Prisoner Monkeys
    18th August 2009, 10:19

    I think the Renault penalty was more of a knee-jerk reaction to the death of Henry Surtees and the hospitalisation of Felipe Massa than anything else.

  5. I think the comparison of these punishments show how large in comarison the McLarren fine was.

  6. C’mon we knew this was going to happen. Don’t act surprised. Valencia is in Spain. How can you not have Alonso grid up? The revenue lost would’ve been staggering. The FIA just needed time to come up with a solution in the wording and final execution of the penalty. Too bad the “Schu Program” didn’t make it. With Massa’s recovery seemingly moving along quickly, the Scuderia could have been more creative. It would be nice to see another Villenueve in a Ferrari just once.

    1. Indeed.

      This is why F1 is no longer a Sport: Revenue dictates the rules.

      1. It’s not about the revenue, the guys in spain already bought their tickets. As far as TV revenues are concerned they would of lost a lot more worldwide from Schumi not returning than Alonso. If anything it was to appease those fans, and personally I’m happy that they did.

        Not to mention that the penalty was too harsh in the first place (although understandably so), I dont see what the big issue is, this is what the appeal system is for.

  7. Terry Fabulous
    18th August 2009, 10:35

    The FIA has been disgraceful with these rulings.

    The BAR couldn’t run without fuel, yet they declared it underweight??
    Alonso at Hungary was a team issue, and no issue for them to be involved in.
    McLaren and Renault did the same crime with vastly different punishments.

    It’s been said before and will be said again, full time qualified stewards.

    1. I think the BAR issue was that cars have to be weighed “dry” and BAR had falsely declared that all the fuel had been pumped out. Without any fuel, the BAR was underweight.

      The weighing dry rule goes back to the early 1980s when several teams used “water cooled” brakes as a cunning ploy to run underweight. This culminated in the Tyrrell ban in ’84.

      1. Terry Fabulous
        18th August 2009, 22:55

        Gday Tim. Fair enough, They broke the letter of the law. Although I would argue not the spirit of the law.

        The idea is… that cars must meet a minimum weight. Without that fuel in the tank, the car can’t run. it ceases to be a car, and becomes an ornament! So argueably, when it is able to run, and therefore a car, it needs that fuel in there.

        But you are right. If they were supposed to pump the petrol all out and they didn’t, then they broke the letter of the law.

        I think they got punished as much for trying to deceive the FIA as they were for having a ‘Secret tank’.

  8. What concerns and bothers me most about F1 is the lack of consistency in the rules and punishments. For me, too many punishments are handed out in the first place. I think if a team is deliberately cheating then yes, it’s fair to punish them. But otherwise, let it go. That goes for letting Alonso out with a loose wheel; whilst they were aware of the problem at the time they did it, it was a split second response and in no way benefited them. It wasn’t exactly a premeditated action. It was, as people have pointed out many times, a knee-jerk reaction to other incidents that resulted in such a punishment.
    Other incidents that have been a cause for stewards enquiries are somewhat ridiculous though… Webber moving across the track a couple of races back resulted in him getting a drive-through. Kimi did the same thing in the next race and the line given was that he would be “investigated after the race”. Why is it one rule one week and a different rule the next? Even if the stewards decided not to hand out a penalty to Kimi, it should have been dealt with immediately, as it was with Mark.
    These days we also seem to see what we always knew as ‘Racing Incidents’ being punished too often as well. Thinking back to Spa last year, Lewis and Kimi gave us one of the best endings to a race ever. Wheel to wheel action over several laps and brave passing made it a real edge-of-your-seat end. It was great. We then had the stewards step in and ruin it afterwards, causing great frustration for fans around the world.
    You have to accept that these guys are competing against each other on the same piece of tarmac. Occasionally things will happen that result in cars being ran off the road or coming together, or even leaving the pits with a wheel loose. But that’s what makes it so entertaining, and if these kinds of things continue to be punished, then F1 will become more and more precessional as drivers and teams become too scared to take any risks. Qualifying becomes more and more important than the race itself.

    Anyway, sorry for the long rant. I just find it very frustrating to see good racing stifled as much as it seems to be today.

    1. F1Paul, I agree.

      Consistency is the key and there is none at all at the moment!

      I think I probably speak for most that I personally HATE the stewards stepping in after the race to change the results. I think the whole ‘investigated after the race’ should be done away with completely.

      And you are right F1Paul – drivers will soon be scared to do anything for fear of being given a penalty.

      1. I get the feeling that F1 is developing Britains “nanny state” mentality. Soon anything to do with real racing will be deemed to dangerous. Overtaking may become allowable only thru strategic means to avoid on track incidents.

        Rediculous I know, but its the mentality that F1 is starting to nurture.

        I fully agree with the above posts.

        If the FIA was running a country, there would have been a coup de grace by now.

    2. I agree with F1Paul.

      There has been no consistency in the FIA’s rulings. Some teams have obviously been favored while others seem to have been singled out for harsher punishment. For a world sanctioning body that regularly touts its professionalism, the FIA has done a poor job of enforcing the sports rules and promoting fairness.

      Much of this is a direct result of the FIA’s reluctance to bring in professional stewards. And the fact that the Court of Appeal is comprised of representatives who often have no experience in professional auto racing has not helped matters either.

      Could you imagine a World Cup game being refereed by a group of amateurs refs, half of whom do not know all the rules?

    3. Agreed.

      In more recent years the stewards are playing an increasing role in the outcome of each race and, ultimately, the season. Investigations and punishments continue to be inconsistent and there’s also way too many of them. Whenever there’s an incident now I’m expecting there to be an investigation. And what determines why some are decided during and some decided after the race also doesn’t make sense; although the cynical amongst us will have theories.

      But just out of interest to some on the issue of punishments, I was catching up on Rugby Union this week. Harlequins faked a blood injury to allow their fly-half to return to the pitch, during the Heineken Cup match earlier this year. Doesn’t sound like much of a crime but Dean Richards (the director of Harlequins) now has a three year rugby coaching ban, Tom Williams (the player who faked the injury) a 4 month ban and Harlequins receive a £206,000 fine. And they were almost kicked out of the Heineken Cup this year.

    4. I agree with all the points you made. The reason we get inconsistent rulings is because the stewards are chosen by each of the respective countries sporting authorities holding the races, one of who must be a national of the host nation. The others are nominated by the FIA. This will produce inconsistencies as these stewards have never been involved in the racing side of F1 before. They will do everything by the book and not see it from a racing perspective. A better way would be to have panel that goes to every race made up of people that have been involved with racing, I believe Todt has alluded to this idea in his manifesto. They can see it as racing incident and not punish them for having a go, because after all they are there to race.

    5. F1Paul,
      you also have to accept that sports have rules, all of them.

      Kimi’s move was very different from Webbers. I watched it about 10 times on my DVR. Webber was at Kimi’s left and forced Kimi right, which forced Kimi into Vettel. this is why Kimi wasn’t penalized. It wasn’t easy to see, but it is what happened. It was just racing three wide.

      Everyone gets too caught up with trying to compare one penalty to some other penalty that is similar, but not exactly the same (Kimi’s exhaust compared to Fernando’s wheel). They are not the same, and loose wheels have proven to be way more dangerous than loose parts (no need to bring up Massa, I saw it).

      The inconsistent penalties are a result of inconsistent problems/moves/faults….

      HOWEVER, I strongly agree that we need full time stewards to make the penalties and rules not only more clear, but better enforced.

      1. I think a big part of the problem when it comes to sporting infringements is how vague the rules are. Hamilton’s penalty at Belgium last year is a good example – there’s nothing in the rules at all about what you should do if you’re forced off the track by a rival and have to give a position back. This sort of situation will inevitably lead to controversy.

      2. I accept that the move by Kimi was different to that of Mark’s. But regardless of that, the move was still enough to cause an investigation. However, the investigation came after the race, without good reason. They could have looked at it there and then but didn’t, and that is an inconsistency.

        1. It probably meant that at that moment they didn’t see anything wrong with the move, but they wanted to keep their options open to hand out a penalty after the race if some evidence would come from telemetry or talking to the drivers.

  9. Sebastian Vettel did get a grid penalty in Malaysia as a result of that collision as well

  10. I can’t believe that “spygate” and one lollipop man letting a car go early are even being considered in the same league… Fair penalty in my eyes.

    Sure Renault could have called him to stop on track but of course they wanted him to do a lap and continue the race after another pitstop.

    McLaren fans need to stop moaning about the “spygate” penalty. They behaved in a dirty and underhanded manner as they did again in Australia, and have been punished appropriately both times. And don’t forget Lewis wasn’t innocent either.

    1. I thought the article was simply asking the question, in light of the recent decision ‘Do the punishments fit the crimes?’ so it had to list punishments handed out by the FIA in the last few years, and it couldn’t do this without mentioning spygate.

      1. Agreed, but Spygate is probably one of the biggest sporting scandals of all time. I don’t think it is possible to heal the irreparable damage both the scandal and the way it was played out have done to our sport.

        The fact that the mere mention of it can provoke comments such as Nik’s show what a profound effect it has had on most motorsport fans.

        Please understand that this is no slight against Nik – he is entitled to his view and, to an extent I agree with him. His comments are certainly more cogent than the, spit-covered, spluttering buffoonery of most comments along the same lines. But the fact he feels he needs to mention it shows the divisive impact of this event.

        For me, that a team had acquired ‘live’ information on another team’s design is no surprise whatsoever. That that team chose to take a look at that illicit info despite knowing it’s source is, again not surprising. That the other team was upset enough to force the issue is again no surprise.

        The main shocks for me where:
        – Just how far Mosley was willing to push the for a punishment seemingly based on supposition that McLaren were ‘telling fibs’
        – Given the previous shock, that commercial interests (the ongoing world championship conclusion) were allowed to affect the punishment given out for a sporting offence (not banning the drivers too)
        – That Max would be bold enough to use almost the same justification for the huge penalty given to Mclaren not to punish Renault similarly and keep a straight face (and his job).

        The worst thing for me was why it couldn’t have been settled behind closed doors. It makes me wonder whether Todt can be considered fit to look after a sport who’s image he had absolutely no concern for when he was one of the participants.

        [ For the record, my personal allegiance lies with neither team (although I especially detested Todt’s Ferrari.) I think that McLaren were caught with their pants down, Ron Dennis reacted understandably but should have been more open. Todt should have been more concerned with what was good for the sport and less about winning the 2007 WCC by default and that the whole thing should have been dealt with fairly and properly in public, or behind closed doors. The WMSC meeting (which a have read the transcripts of) were nothing but show trials. If the FIA had made it’s mind up already – why the need to drag the sport through the mire in public? ]

        1. Great post Bruce.

        2. I agree, lots of interesting points. Given the McLaren penalty it would be hard to justify giving a team an outright ban without giving the driver ssome kind of exemption.

  11. didn’t alonso get a grid penalty for hungary 07?

    1. True – I’ll add that.

    2. …which cost him the championship! So it was a HUGE punishment. That’s an oft forgotten detail, all the talk is always of Lewis blowing it or Kimi stealing it, but without that previously unheard of penalty for what was in essence an internal team matter, Alonso would be a triple world champion and Kimi would probably be regarded as a neverwozza considering his subsequent form.

      1. but without that previously unheard of penalty for what was in essence an internal team matter

        That’s not even remotely true. Plenty of drivers have had grid penalties for impeding rivals during qualifying in the past. Monaco 2006 ring any bells?

        1. Monacco 2006 was between rivals in rival teams, not rivals within the same team. Not a valid comparison.

          1. The fact that this involved two team mates is irrelevant – they’re still rivals (surely no-one would dispute that Alonso and Hamilton were rivals in 2007?)

            The rules certainly don’t make any such distinction, they simply state you can’t impede a rival, which Alonso unquestionably did.

            And that makes sense – there’s no reason why the rule shouldn’t apply between team mates.

  12. The biggest problems with punishments in F1 are lack of consistency and the suspicion that some of them are motivated by politics or the need to keep the championship close.

    Out of the Punishments listed in the article I believe that the McLaren and Renault spying cases are the best example of this. The difference in the two punishments is massive. Some believe that the size of McLaren’s penalty was influenced by a grudge Mosley has against Dennis. Also I seem to remember there were rumours before the Renault case that if they received a punishment anywhere near as big as McLarens then they would simply quit F1, which some suggested was a reason why they were not punished.

    While a lot of the decisions made by the Stewards and the FIA as a whole baffle me, I never understood the McLaren’s punishment at Hungaroring in 2007. To me it appeared like a spat between Alonso and Hamilton with the team stuck in the middle.

    I could understand the rationale behind grid penalty for Alonso as if he had held someone up on the track he would have received the same penalty. However I didn’t see why McLaren were punished by not being allowed to score points in the race and not being allowed on the podium to collect the trophy. The initial period they held Alonso was them trying to get the best track position for him and you could see them trying to get Alonso to go when the lollipop was raised, and then after qualifying finished you could tell from Ron Dennis’s body language as he left the pit wall that he was not best pleased.

  13. The punishment rarely fits the crime but the fact is that it never needs to.

    In many ways today’s Formula One is barely recognisable from what it was in the 1970s or even 1984 when Tyrell were banned, but in other, key ways it is still conducted in a rather ad-hoc and amateurish fashion.

    The race stewarding and judicial and appeals court process is one such example. Having non-professional, non-permanent race stewards who were just ‘blazers’ from some motoring club or other was fine back in the days when motor racing was a semi-amateur activity for the wealthy gentleman.

    Since those days the wealth generating potential of Grand Prix racing has been realised and has attracted big money players from many industries and bought about a new level of professionalism amongst the sporting participants. Meanwhile the structure at the top of the sport has remained the same and today it is suffering for it.

    Formula One desperately needs professional refereeing like almost all other global professional sports, and there are two key reasons.

    For one, people do not like being taken for a ride and they wish to see fairness, consistency and clarity in refereeing. The fact that there is normally a far longer time to make judgements in a motor race than in the heat of the moment in, say a football match makes it all the more difficult to bear when the stewards office comes out with another awful decision. If F1 is to attract the common man as a fan then it has to make refereeing better.

    Secondly companies that put their image at stake and, most importantly, bring a lot of money to the table do not like to see their sporting efforts and, in some cases integrity, scuppered by ridiculous refereeing judgements that have little reinforcement and from a governing body with little transparency and openness.

    As an aside I should mention that the current structure is too easily manipulated by powerful figures from within. The effects of which have been clearly seen through the last 4 world championhips (Mass Dampers and Monza 2006; Spygate 2007; Valencia, Spa, Singapore and Fuji 2008, and ‘diffusergate’ 2009)

    FIA presidents who spend too much time influencing the outcome of a supposedly sporting event resulting in considerable cost and loss of face to powerful organisations should, of course, be wary of the pressure these organisations can put on their positions. ;)

    In all seriousness, I do not understand why Bernie Ecclestone does not try to address this area as it is severely damaging his ‘product.’

  14. Reading this article reminds me quite how much Max Mosley hates Mclaren. How can these punishments be fair when his personal vendetta’s are involved.

    Also, we should remember that F1 is arguably more of a business than a sport. Bernie Ecclestone must have an influence on some of these decisions- I can’t imagine he would ever even consider banning Ferrari no matter what they did, which hardly seems fair

    1. Hates McLaren, or hated Ron Dennis?

      Also, I don’t believe you’re the real Ned Flanders – you don’t say ‘diddly’ enough.

      1. Not the real Ned Flanders… how dare you?!?

        I suppose it was it was Ron Dennis that he hates, but Mclaren F1 is effectively Ron Dennis F1 (or at least it was until ‘liegate’).

        Presumably Ron Dennis retained the Mclaren name not in the memory of Bruce Mclaren and the teams rich history, but because his name would sound daft. Dennis- Mercedes, anyone?

  15. I think the most infuriating thing about the way punishments are handed out, is that us fans don’t always understand the process and rationale. We don’t often see two incidents that occurred in identical circumstances. We aren’t given detailed lists of what incident set a precedent and affects later punishments.

    In the case of the McLaren spying and the Renault spying, we don’t know enough about what Renault did. If Phil Mackereth “took confidential information” when moving jobs, was this hundreds of technical drawings or was it simply his experience at another team? In the limited workforce of F1, people are hired on their track record and level of experience. You can’t expect your old employee to not take any prior knowledge with them.

    1. Renault did install a J-damper shortly after they got the plans of which they claimed they didn’t know what it was about.

      On the other hand, an engineer went from Honda to Toyota and took the doube diffuser idea with him “in his head”. Apparently that’s allowed.

      1. Agreed Patrick. Can’t remember all the details off the top of my head, but there was a fair few computer disks involved wasn’t there? When I read the FIA transcripts it seemed cut and dried and couldn’t believe they let Renault off. Actually I COULD believe it, but you know what I mean.

      2. And there were the two Toyota employees who had Ferrari information and were taken to court in Italy, but the FIA never got involved.

  16. All these ‘after the event’ penalties and decisions/alterations are what have driven away a few of my friends from F1. It is pointless watching a race, seeing someone win, only for results to be altered sometimes weeks later. Someone/team gets a ban from racing, only to see them on the grid anyway. Make a decision on raceday and stick with it.

    As I said before, you wouldn’t see this nonsense in football.
    F1 needs to grow up and fast.

  17. that was soooooo funny when Alonso held up Lewis in the pits :D think that was when I first started to like him :)

    1. But in the end the joke was on him. The points he missed out on in that race could have cost him the championship

  18. For those who believe that the McLaren/Renault spying controversy proves inconsistency within the FIA, there is a world of difference between taking a few documents with you when clearing out your desk at your old team, and having an on-demand stream of stolen information courtesy of a mole within another team.

    1. Mark Hitchcock
      18th August 2009, 17:40

      Thay may be true but the rule the FIA used to punish Mclaren was this one:

      ”Any fraudulent conduct or any act prejudicial to the interests of any competition or to the interests of motor sport generally.”

      Which also applies to what Renault did, so their punishment should have been closer to the one Mclaren received.

  19. Another reason for HD!!

    In American football, they review the plays that are questionable to the point of it being exhausting. If they had better cameras and camera angles, a lot of the on track penalties would be much more clear to the fans.

  20. William Wilgus
    18th August 2009, 22:25

    I can’t think of anything worse than allowing a car to exit the pits that is known to be unsafe. The race ban should have been upheld. However, as I’ve said before, the punishments for rules infractions should be stated in the rules themselves. That way, they have to be applied equally to everyone.

    1. Although I agree with your opinion (upon reflection) I did initially vote for the ban to be lifted.

      On a side note. At the same time we and Keith are discussing the POLITICAL side of the sport, something I hate doing, reports are coming in that Massa should be ready for Brazil in October. Might be time to put some if not all these unflattering scandals to the side and get back to realtime events and the sport itself. It’s been a while since we’ve had a piece on aero developments for example, their impact etc etc etc
      Just my 2 cents.

  21. What a great article.

    In other sports there are published penalties for various infringements. In Australian Rugby League for example they grade infringments based on the danger to the other player involved e.g. dangerous tackles and based on the grade of the infringement the penalty which is known by all because it’s a publsihed list is applied e.g. 2 match ban. The player can accept the penalty and be done or they can contest it through the judiciary. If they contest it at the judiciary and lose the penalty aplied is greater e.g. 3 weeks, if they win their appeal they either avoid the penalty or have it downgraded e.g. 1 match ban. The result is that most players accept the penalty and the games goes on without the politics.

    All infringements have points at so if a player has several minor infringmenets qwhere no match bans have been applied the points still tally and when the player reaches a certain tally of points a ban is automatically imposed. Major infringements e.g. punching a referee goes straight to the judiciary and again the range of penalites avaialable is known e.g. the case is thrown out all the way up to a life ban from the game. The system punishes bad beahaviour and rewards good behaviour.

    Perhaps the FIA could create a list, not based on history but draw a line in the sand and start next season. The list would need to be definitive and punishments are automatic e.g. if your driver loses a tyre on track they must move to the side of the track where it is safe to do so following the marshalls where possible. Failure to do so will cost the team US$50,000 and the team will lose all constructors points from that race.

    It’s not a perfect system but it is consitenet and all parties know the penalites and the things they can do to stay out of trouble.

  22. F1Paul is correct in his observation.
    “What concerns and bothers me most about F1 is the lack of consistency in the rules and punishments.”
    There is no consistency. Hasn’t been for years. This of course is due to the political nature of how the FIA is run. Vindictive at best. Malicious at it’s worst.
    Perhaps if Vaittenen gets elected this can change. It most certainly will not change if Todt gets in.

  23. There are ‘knowingly’ and ‘unknowingly’ doing wrong stuff. The latter can always be forgiven, albeit with a fine of some 50K $. The BAR and Alonso’s were deliberate, this wasn’t. End of story.

    1. What wasn’t? Renault sending out Alonso before fitting the retainer? That really WAS deliberate.

      1. so patrick you’re saying that renault deliberately sent alonso out like that? mental. it was obviously a MISTAKE by the mechanic.

        1. No it was not a mistake. Look at the replay.

          They decided to put a procedure in place that lets the wheel gun man signal that the wheel is ready after he fastens the wheel nut.

          After that the wheel nut retainer still needs to be fastenen.

          This means they only care that the wheel nut is fastened, but don’t give a hoot about the retainer device being installed.

          Realize that the wheel gun guy thought that the wheel nut (and thus the wheel) was installed properly. They are not that stupid.

          They only don’t care about the “silly safety measures”.

          They are DELIBERATE taking the risk that the safety device doesn’t get installed. Just to save a few milliseconds.

  24. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again.

    I simply don’t accept the notion that the problem with FIA rulings is that they’re inconsistent, in something like a random manner, either as the result of general incompetence on the part of a given set of stewards, or the fact that the stewards change from race to race.

    When I look at FIA rulings, they seem to me to be almost perfectly consistent in serving very clear goals in the FIA’s interests, executing certain personal vendettas, commercial goals and back-room deals and bribes that maintain and extend the stranglehold of power in the governing body.

    I think we are supposed to think that events like Spa or Fuji last year were the result of clueless stewards who should have been better trained. I don’t think they were and we forget how easily these mysterious and generally anonymous people are orchestrated directly by Alan Donnelly, Mosley’s right-hand man who is personally involved in “leading” the stewards in every high-profile case and yet whose name never appears on the stewards’ rulings. For example: who “interviewed” Lewis before the Spa debacle? Donnelly. Who are the stewards answering to at every race? Right.

    It’s all too convenient to say “well, shucks, it’s a hard job ruling on all these things in the pressure cooker of an F1 event” and “the rule book is complex and subjective” and put it down to a matter of competence. It’s actually far simpler than that: the rules themselves are intentionally written with grey area and maximum latitude for race stewards or the WMSC to toy around with, including article 151c, and from there the agenda du jour (most recently the victimization of Dennis, but there have been others) is executed with almost flawless precision. The patterns are so transparently clear that it beggars belief, and yet we all sit here and talk about competence and how F1 is behind the times. It’s actually ahead of the times, from Max’s point of view – it works very well indeed.

    The decision makers here are highly competent. The stewards themselves are just avatars and puppets who have the authority to make drudge decisions but are easily steered when push comes to shove. We serve sinister interests and follow the intended script when we lament the “inconsistency” and “incompetence” of the race stewards.

    1. props.

Comments are closed.