Eight drivers escape penalties for using DRS

2013 Chinese Grand Prix

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Adrian Sutil, Force India, Shanghai, 2013All eight drivers who were investigated after the Chinese Grand Prix for using DRS in an area where yellow flags were being shown have been cleared.

Kimi Raikkonen, Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button, Daniel Ricciardo, Romain Grosjean, Valtteri Bottas, Max Chilton and Mark Webber were all investigated following the race.

The stewards noted there were three “mitigating circumstances” for the infringements:

There was a delay of one minute from the display of the yellow flags until the message appeared on the official message system.

The electronic marshalling system DRS disable function was not operational, so drivers were relying on team communications and information conveyed to them in the ??Note to Teams?? which was issued prior to the Race, resulting in a degree of confusion.

The DRS use was on the main straight where a green light was displayed.

Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa were given drive-through penalties for passing through a yellow flag zone while using DRS during last year’s Spanish Grand Prix.

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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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    39 comments on “Eight drivers escape penalties for using DRS”

    1. I’m very happy about that decision. I think it would have spoiled what was a great race today, had the drivers in question been penalised.

      1. Penalizing half of the field would have really made a farce of the whole race IMO

        1. *FIArce! ;)

        2. They did penalise half the field – they penalised the half that didn’t use DRS.
          Not the teams’ fault, but they should still have received a time penalty equal to, but no more than, the time they gained that others didn’t.

    2. A sensible outcome. Very difficult to penalise half the field when the root problem is the FIA’s own telemetry system.

      1. Nothing more to be said, really.

      2. It’s not as though DRS is automatic. The drivers have to press that button to activate it, and they’re not allowed to do so when yellow flags are shown. They all know (or ought to know) this, so ignorance is not an excuse.

        The stewards have bottled out of penalising these drivers because there are too many of them to be politically convenient; the same as when multiple cars were speeding under the safety car at Valencia in 2010. Clearly, in F1, there is safety in numbers.

        1. You’ll feel better if you read the stewards’ logical reasoning.

          1. the only point among those that is remotely mitigating is the first one; since we don’t know when the offences were committed, we don’t know if it was applicable.

            The drivers are responsible for their own DRS deployment even if the central system isn’t working; and when DRS is disabled, it’s disabled around the whole circuit, not just the yellow flag zones.

            1. @red-andy

              “There was a delay of 1 minute from the display of the yellow flags until the message appeared on the official message system.”

              Therefore, the drivers weren’t notified in time. Since they were also in a green flag zone, it is entirely understandable how they would not have recognised the use of DRS was prohibited at that moment.

              This is an error on the FIA’s part.

            2. JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III
              14th April 2013, 22:33

              and if a marshall was killed do we blame the fia for a software glitch or a driver for using a device that drasticly reduces their control of the car whilst under yellow flags and drs use is not allowed?

              At the end of last year there was a dispute if sebastian passed another car under a yellow flag and yet it was proved in the pooring rain that he judged the flag correctly. Keith even said at the time they are highly talented drivers and knowing the rules and identifying and knowing the difference between a yellow flag and a yellow and red striped flag at 200 mph is bread and butter to them. It was a perfectly clear day in china no excuses they all saw the flags they know the rules they would be responsible for any injury.

            3. @Jimmy… the DRS zone was NEVER under yellows, it was only the corner at the end of the long straight. I doubt they look that far down the track for a yellow flag every lap.

              Reading point 3 would make that a lot clearer.

            4. JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III
              15th April 2013, 12:09

              @Disjunto the rule is when theres a yellow flag on the lap drs is disabled it doesn’t matter where it is and where the drs zone is.

        2. @red-andy According to the article, there was a green light shown on the front straight. Ergo, it would makes sense to the driver, that he is allowed to use it.

          The Yellow’s were localized, where as the DRS ban was track wide. And that’s what caused the error.

        1. Then the FIA have to Punish themselves, not only teams have to do their job.
          As drivers how did not use DRS where on disadvantage

    3. 3) The DRS use was on the main straight where a green light was displayed.

      This alone makes the whole issue ridiculous and the investigation unnecessary.

      1. +1, reminds me of Schumacher overtaking when the safety car pulled in the pits and the race was green-flagged by a marshall. He was punished anyway.

        1. Stuart Becktell (@)
          14th April 2013, 18:27

          It wouldn’t be the FIA if they weren’t strangely inconsistent in almost every penalty they hand out.

        2. That was different as there is line on the track where drivers are not allowed to overtake until it is passed once the safety car has come in.

          1. He overtook after the line, they changed the safety car rules after this but gave Schumacher a penalty based on the rules after the change nonetheless.

      2. If they didn’t investigate then they wouldn’t have found that out genius.

        1. @mike – looking at a recording for the flag is hardly an investigation, is it?

    4. The stewards decision in three words: Oops. Mea culpa.

    5. This is just one big mess, and it seems the FIA are going back to ta primitive way of race control.

    6. This is hardly drivers’ fault. FIA should have managed it with telemetry.

    7. How about getting rid of DRS all together, that way there’s no confusion :P

      1. *altogether

      2. I suppose that solves the problem better than anything!

    8. So in Bahrain you will be (unofficially) allowed to use DRS during yellows without punishment?

      Or is this a final warning for drivers do we reckon?

      1. @calum: When the drivers has a green light down the DRS straight, why shouldn’t they use DRS? Do they have to get a written permission by FIA in each case? Come on, FIA should pull their act together, this isn’t god enough.

      2. I would certainly hope that either the system is finally working again, or they look at what went wrong here (the late information and why a green light was shown on the straight) and I am pretty certain that next time it won’t be handled in the same manner @calum

      3. Not quite. The drivers weren’t using DRS under yellows, they were using DRS under greens. However race control had disabled DRS everywhere… well race control sent a message that DRS was disabled and there was a big delay before the drivers would actually receive the message.

    9. The rule is rule so what if is 8 drivers they should get penalty if it was 1 driver they will give penalty that is ********!

      1. The difference is the drivers didn’t know that they werent supposed to use DRS.
        The drivers used DRS in a green flag zone after the yellow, but FIA had decided to disallow DRS on the whole track as a result of the accident. The drivers cannot know this until they are notified about it, as it isn’t something they do every time there is a yellow flag zone somewhere on the track.
        The notification was delayed by 1 minute, so the driver only knew they weren’t supposed to use DRS after they had done so.
        It has nothing to do with how many did it, it is because it the failure was in FIAs system. The drivers could do nothing about it.

    10. If there was no DRS then none of this would have happened in the first place ;)

    11. @ Vettel that commentor does have a point though, the bit about Vet is ridiculous I agree, but lets not kid ourselves if it was one driver he woulda had aen and we both no it.

      1. @danielc – I could see why maybe that would be the case, but under these circumstances I’m not so sure honestly: it would be terribly unfair for a driver to be punished for what was a fault of the FIA.

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