Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Yas Marina, 2018

Why Bottas avoided a penalty for cutting the track in front of Verstappen

2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Valtteri Bottas was not penalised for cutting the chicane while being pursued by Max Verstappen because he was given a ‘joker’, according to FIA race director Charlie Whiting.

The Mercedes driver cut the chicane at turns eight and nine while under pressure from Verstappen, who complained on the radio that his rival had gained an advantage. Whiting explained Bottas had been given a one-off warning in the same way Verstappen had for a similar incident in the Italian Grand Prix.

“As you know in Monza we had a couple of occasions, Max was one of them, he cut across the chicane and stayed in front at the first chicane and we gave him a warning,” said Whiting.

“They get one chance at that. If he’d done it a second time it would be reported to the stewards. So that’s exactly what we did with Valtteri and Max.”

The fact Verstappen was behind Bottas, and not moving alongside to make a pass, had a bearing on the decision, Whiting added. “He wasn’t almost alongside, he was behind and Valtteri locked up and went straight on.

“If [Bottas] had done it again we would have said he only stayed in front by virtue of going off the track. Obviously it is still an advantage if you stay in front, otherwise he might have lost the place. But under those circumstances we’ve said to the teams – and they all know – that we will normally give them one sort of ‘free one’ if you like.”

Esteban Ocon was given a penalty when he went off at turn 17 after passing Stoffel Vandoorne. Whiting explained this was because he’d missed a chance to give Gasly the position back.

“Esteban was asked to get the place back but by the time we got the message to him he’d been passed by another car. Obviously we couldn’t make him drop back down two positions, so it was referred to the stewards.” The stewards gave Ocon a five-second time penalty.

Whiting pointed out that drivers can only be advised to give positions back to their rivals. “Race control can’t order someone to give a place back,” he said. “We can advise them that we think that’s the wisest thing to do. If they don’t they get reported to the stewards.

“Early in the race Carlos Sainz [Jnr] was asked to get the place back to Marcus Ericsson. We did ask Esteban to give it back but by the time that the team got the news, and then we need to tell the other team, Vandoorne had lost another place, so they had to go to the stewards.”

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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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Posted on Categories 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, 2018 F1 season, F1 news

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  • 32 comments on “Why Bottas avoided a penalty for cutting the track in front of Verstappen”

    1. While I sometimes find myself frowning over the explanations Whiting gives, they do make the thinking of him and the stewards much more clear, so it’s a great feature that he does it, saves a lot of the debate about what the facts and the rules are, as interpreted by the stewards.

    2. From a racing perspective, this is bull.
      Bottas locked up with Verstappen within six or seven tenths. Next up was two switchbacks and then a long straight. 99/100 the difference in momentum means Verstappen gets him. Instead Bottad started the straight at higher speed and only lifted at the end when he was safe to indicate he didn’t gain anything. Of course he gained.
      Now I’ll accept that you should allow for mistakes, but considering he profited from his own mistake, the rules should no no-strikes. If you lock up and miss a corner whilst under pressure, you give it up. That foregoes any of this ambiguity.

      1. Totally agree and while he probably wouldn’t have caught and overtaken Vettel, Max lost a good 4 or 5s to him stuck behing Bottas those extra laps.

      2. Totally agree!
        And not only that, because Bottas cutting the chicane, he never drove over the DRS line, causing the wing of Max to stay closed. Which is gaining an advantage big time.

      3. “From a racing perspective, this is bull. Bottas locked up with Verstappen within six or seven tenths. Next up was two switchbacks and then a long straight. 99/100 the difference in momentum means Verstappen gets him. Instead Bottad started the straight at higher speed and only lifted at the end when he was safe to indicate he didn’t gain anything. Of course he gained.”

        I’m wonder if this was your initial reaction when Rosberg did it in Canada 2016 while being hunted down by Hamilton.

        1. I’m wonder if this was your initial reaction when Rosberg did it in Canada 2016 while being hunted down by Hamilton.

          Or when Max did it to Bottas in Monza

    3. I think the joker should only apply if you go off and gain an andvantage in time And not in place. Although he didn’t actually lose a place but it was pretty obvious that he would have, had he not cut the corner.

      1. I would have given the joker to Alonso (nobody close) rather than Bottas (about to lose his position).

    4. I don’t quite understand, if the argument is you’re allowed to mis a corner once ( and apparently floot it while doing it.) Then why did Ocon get a penalty, had he been cutting corners before?

      1. And even Alonso. nothing gained there.
        The end of the year.. very inconsistent stewarding..

        1. On the contrary, teamwise there’s plenty of consistency

        2. Alonso cut the track thrice. Can’t speak for Ocon, I don’t know if he’d cut the track similarly.

    5. Total rubbish!
      So where was Alonso’s joker?
      Same old rubbish from Charlie.
      Move on old man.

    6. CW you are not doing this for free, are you?

    7. Here is the thing: Locking up is a driving mistake the driver should pay for! If instead of tarmac the surface was sand, Bottas wouldn’t lose a place. His race would be over. The driver who makes a mistake should pay for his mistake and the one who doesn’t should be able to benefit from his performance especially in situations when the driver in front is forced to a mistake because he is being pushed from the driver behind. It should be simple, you lock up and cut the corner, you give up the place. That’s it. No bullcrap subjectivity about gaining an advantage or being handed a “joker”. The only joker Bottas was handed today was a help from the stewards to secure his third place and “il tappos” still failed.

    8. What a joke this guys and his jokers… How about having a rulebook everyone have to follow and apply the rule written on it?

    9. It’s got to sting when even the FIA considers Bottas a joke.

    10. I don’t see why drivers should be allowed a joker, or to get away with a warning. I would really love to see drivers held accountable for not staying within the white lines, be it the first time or the fiftieth time they do it.

    11. This makes no sense at all. Is the joker “escape” just for this circuit? Or just for Mercs and Ferrari’s?
      Charlie probably got hit in the head with some debris at the F2 crash start.

    12. Soooo, the people jumping all over this ‘Joker’ excuse.

      Were you making the same posts criticising this when Verstappen was also given a free joker at Monza when he cut the chicane?

      1. Of course they weren’t. What you expect Verstappen fans to be reasonable? Ha!

        1. Well as a fellow Martin I can tell you I did kind of agreed in the FIA decision to give Bottas a joker…..
          but
          Then I checked the comments here… and changed my mind, consistacy is far more important and maybe the stewards were wrong on both occasions.

          In on race there’s more at stake than the other, in this case it was a fight for position in the final standings, so there was a lot more at stake than in Monza, the FIA should not interfere that much in races, just apply the rules

          1. In on race there’s more at stake than the other, in this case it was a fight for position in the final standings, so there was a lot more at stake than in Monza

            Yeah because the points in Monza didn’t count towards the final standings at all -_-

            the FIA should not interfere that much in races, just apply the rules

            I mean they were consistent between Monza and Abu Dhabi and didn’t penalise drivers in either case. Sounds very much to me like they didn’t interfere at all

    13. “Early in the race Carlos Sainz [Jnr] was asked to get the place back to Marcus Ericsson.”
      – Where? Something like that was never shown on the world feed.

      1. Ocon could’ve given the position back straight away had he bothered to, but of course, he didn’t.

    14. This joker rule makes no sense when you use it to defend a position. Often your opponent will only get one chance to pass in the race so if the track allows it you can (and should) always choose to cut a corner once to prevent the chance of an overtake. You don’t need to gain time overall, just break the drs and/or slipstream to defend the dangerous bit, then give back time at the next corner when you are safe. If it’s the final lap for example, there is no need to save your joker for later so as long as you make it look like a mistake you will be fine. The way it is now, it’s like a Mario Kart shortcut that you can only use once (although not to overtake, just defend).

      The joker makes sense if you don’t have a car in close proximity behind, because we don’t want to see endless strings of penalties that have to be sorted out at the pit stops or at the end of the race to find out who actually won. But it would be easy enough to have another rule such as ‘if a rival car is following within 2 seconds and you cut a corner, you give up the place or suffer an appropriate time penalty’.

      1. @keithedin – that’s a good distinction. Will Charlie and the stewards be willing to take that stance?

        1. @keithedin But this is not a joker ‘rule.’ It is just something informal that they use when an occasion doesn’t warrant anything heavy handed and where a mere warning suffices. It is not something in the rule book. There is no need to overthink this nor over analyze it. I envision that a bloke could go all season never getting the luxury of the one joker if he blatantly cuts corners or chicanes on a handful of occasions and never shows contrition, never slows afterwards to acknowledge his error, never apologizes over the radio etc etc. In this case VB has hardly been an aggressive driver all season, rarely does this sort of thing, and yesterday slowed to show acknowledgement that he had gained a small advantage by staying ahead. But it was a minor incident and a rare one from VB. I don’t at all envision that drivers start the season feeling like they have one joker to use up. Whiting isn’t keeping a list of who hasn’t received a joker yet, and so watches for a time when he can give them one. Drivers don’t assume they can do whatever they want by cutting a corner or chicane as blatantly and as advantageously as they want, once, knowing they will get away with one with a mere warning. It is an arbitrary thing so as to not be too over bearing with rules when such a minor incident doesn’t warrant anything more than a warning, on those occasional times when it is really debatable whether a driver did gain that much, and when he has no real history of doing this and not acknowledging it with a slight lift after the incident.

    15. It would have been a nice tribute to Alonso:
      Verstappen… “Where is Bottas now?”
      Horner… “He pitted for new tyres”
      Verstappen…. “Karma!”

      1. Ahah, indeed!

    16. What utter BS! Did Leclerc or Alonso get the benefit of a “joker”? no they didn’t.

    17. In the end it didn’t matter. Bottas was Verstappen fodder. But I agree with everybody who’s eyebrows are frowned about a “make it fit” explanation.

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