Charles Leclerc, Sebastian Vettel, Valtteri Bottas, Red Bull Ring, 2019

F1 cannot take three hours to say “no foul”


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Max Verstappen was the first driver to complete 71 laps of the Red Bull Ring in last weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix. The Red Bull driver brought joy to the huge crowd assembled in his team’s backyard as he led the field home at the end of an hour and 22 minutes of pulsating action.

This was surely the most riveting race we’ve enjoyed so far this season. The only blot on the afternoon was the subsequent three-hour wait to learn whether Verstappen had actually won the race, or if he was to face a penalty for his uncompromising, elbows-out pass on Charles Leclerc.

The stewards eventually ruled Verstappen was in the clear. This was a satisfying verdict. Verstappen has overstepped the mark several times in the past and been stripped of a podium finishes once every season since he joined Red Bull for one reason or another. But his move on Leclerc, though tough, was fair. Stripping him of the victory would have set a disappointing new precedent, a softening of the threshold between hard racing and deliberate contact.

The unsatisfying aspect of the outcome was that it took so long. In the immediate aftermath of the race we should have been discussing Verstappen’s thrilling charge through the field and Honda’s remarkable journey back to the top. But that all felt premature while the race result was so obviously provisional.

The stakes are so high in many professional sports that the referees’ calls are always going to be disputed. That is certainly true in F1, but in recent weeks the stewards have been subject to unfair and ill-informed criticism, and not just from spectators.

Sebastian Vettel’s five-second penalty for rejoining the track unsafely in front of Lewis Hamilton in Canada, which cost him victory in the race, understandably left many disappointed, not least because he otherwise would have ended a Mercedes winning streak. But the hotly-debated call was undoubtedly consistent with recent rulings, not least one in Japan last year which Vettel himself endorsed.

Yet Ferrari took it upon themselves to launch a farce of a protest at which they promised to present “overwhelming” new evidence exonerating their driver. They showed up with little more than a video of an ex-F1-driver-turned-pundit whose point of view they happened to agree with. As Hamilton put it, once he learned how flimsy their case was he knew he had nothing to worry about.

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That decision clearly still rankles, for in Austria Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto unfathomably compared the Canada incident with the decision which went against Leclerc. It’s inconceivable that the leader of an F1 team should have sincerely believe the same judgement could apply to two such different cases; presumably he made the remark as a populist pitch to the Ferrari faithful.

Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen, Circuit of the Americas, 2017
No Verstappen on the podium at Austin in 2017
But if the stewards have not deserved much of the criticism which has levelled at them of late, that is not to say there isn’t room for improvement in how F1 can handle calls such as these. The three-hour wait for the verdict on the Austrian Grand Prix winner was much too long.

In Canada, Vettel transgressed on the 48th lap of 70. The stewards handed down his penalty nine laps later. The timing was much tighter in Austria: Verstappen and Leclerc tangled on the 68th lap of 71. Therefore, getting a decision made before the podium ceremony was always going to be a challenge.

Some past decisions have been made more quickly than this. At the 2017 United States Grand Prix Verstappen overtook Kimi Raikkonen for third place on the final lap. However he was ruled to have completed the pass illegally by putting all four wheels off the track and was given a five-second time penalty. This decision was handed down quickly enough for Raikkonen to take his rightful place on the podium.

It’s true that the Verstappen/Leclerc penalty decision was a more subjective call to make than whether a driver had put all four wheels over the line. But it was surely not so complicated to require the 194 minutes it took.

FIA race director Michael Masi explained why it took over three hours to issue the verdict, beginning with the fact that the incident occured so close to the race’s end at 4:34pm local time.

“The primary part was we didn’t get going until six [o’clock], being all of the various media commitments with regard to the pen, post-race conference. The hearing itself, give or take, was about an hour with all parties involved.

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“Then the stewards deliberated looked at other cases, precedents, speaking between themselves. Then by the time you write a decision and then make sure that there’s no attempt to make sure there’s no typos or anything in it and so forth, then summoning the teams back, delivering the decision to them, time flies a lot more when you’re sitting outside like all of us than it does when you’re sitting in the room.”

Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2019
Vettel’s Canada penalty sparked debate over stewarding in F1
This all seems fair enough on the face of it. But there is an inconsistency here which needs consideration for the future: Why did the stewards feel the need to summon the drivers at all?

If an incident happens early on in a race and the drivers involved do not retire, they can’t be hauled in for an interview. Given that, shouldn’t the stewards exclude drivers from all deliberations regarding in-race penalties on grounds of fairness? For example, Vettel wasn’t able to argue his case before the stewards in Canada, so why should Verstappen in Austria?

RaceFans asked Masi whether the stewards would have summoned the drivers had the same incident happened much earlier in the race. “I actually, honestly don’t know,” he admitted.

“From what I understand I think that they wanted to hear from both of the drivers to get the drivers’ understanding. Because, funnily enough, both teams have opposing views, which is not a surprise to any of us.

“But having a chat to both of the drivers in that circumstance, had it happened early in the race, honestly I don’t know if they would have looked at it and come up with a determination at that point.”

Again, this is reasonable enough on its own, but not when you consider that drivers don’t always get the chance to put their point of view across on incidents like these. This may even be encouraging drivers to take greater liberties with the rules at the end of races, believing they can argue their way out of it later.

It is always better to have a late decision than a wrong one. And, as Masi also pointed out, the inevitability of post-race technical checks means the possibility that a race result could change after a podium ceremony can never be completely excluded.

But perhaps it’s time for the stewards to consider whether it is right to let some drivers defend their cases and not others, and whether changing this would make it more likely that the fans on the track know who won the race before they head home.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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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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99 comments on “F1 cannot take three hours to say “no foul””

  1. Completely agreed. I believe they put a statement out saying it took so long because they had to do the podium and all the press commitments firsts. I believe it’s utterly farcical to think those press commitments count for anything if no one actually knows who won at the time! It can only be damaging to the sport that TV is off-air before the result is announced.

    Priorities need to be massively reconsidered, the spectacle should not come before classification.

    1. Guys, guys, guys…. they are not being transparent with you and I have the inside scoop of what really transpired during the stewards discussion at the end of the Austria GP.
      A reliable source told me that the initial decision was deemed too controversial and they had to drop it. What initial decision, you may ask.

      Well the initial decision was to enforce a few penalties; not only on VER. What the stewards originally proposed was to:
      1) Disqualify both Verspatten and Leclerc for banging wheels in a clear unsportmanship behavior.
      2) Give Bottas a 30 second penalty for running on a firmware version BOT V2.0 that is not approved
      3) Give Vettel a 30 second penalty for speeding on the track and making a late pass on HAM
      4) Awarding HAM the victory; after all the IS the bestest and greatest of all time.

      But, for some reason, they considered that not politically correct. Go figure.

      1. Karl Peters
        2nd July 2019, 19:29


  2. this case was clearly a more “political” stewarding than usual. After the debacle of Canada, F1 really could not afford to take the win away from Max and RedBull, especially at their home race, without a thorough investigation. So I personally really didn’t mind the wait at all, but I’m not watching F1 to see one driver or the other win, I’m watching it for the action in general – which I got in spades on Sunday.

    1. It may have been political but not in order to make sure Max won. I think it is more likely that they wanted to make sure no comeback and so scrutinised it over and over. Max clearly had done nothing wrong but they will have been careful to make sure this was the case.

  3. While waiting the decision, Dad joked “the’y head to IndyCar if the win was overturned.”

    1. that’s where the father and son belong
      not long before it becomes personal and Le Clerc takes Max out whenever he can

  4. They clearly thought there was something to investigate and probably wanted to give Max a penalty, when it was safe to do so. That time didn’t come in the allowable theory – probably escalations in atmosphere – so they wimped out.

  5. It was farcical that it took so long to make the decision.

    At the end of the formula 3 race their was a collision between 1st and 2nd at the hairpin on the last lap and the decision and penalty was made before the cars got back to the pits.

    For my money it was a stonewall penalty for verstsppen but I’m glad they kept the result the same as changing it 3 hours after the event would be a killer for the sport and it was a tremendous drive from verstappen that deserved a victory.

    A little fact that’s been overlooked in the postrace discussions is that leclerc lost the race mostly because his pace wasnt great. Vettel was quite a bit quicker most of the race and if Charles had been able to match that verstappen wouldn’t have been anywhere near him by time he passes bottas.

    1. How did max do anything wrong? He made the move within the rules of f1!

      1. He broke too late, missed the apex, understeered into Leclercs car causing a collision and opened the steering to run him off track.

        It’s fine margins. If he had his car a third ahead of leclercs then you could say leclerc has to concede the corner but the fact is Leclerc has his car fully along side the red bull meaning he has to be given space.

        Verstappen was either A) unable to give him that space meaning he wasnt fully in control of the car or B) unwilling so therefore deliberately crowded Leclerc of the track. Either way it’s a foul

        1. @pantherjag
          It was racing perfection. He braked at exactly the right time, stopped at exactly the right place, went on the throttle at exactly the right moment and drove a perfect line to the exit of the corner without losing control of his car for even a millionth of a second.
          It’s racing like racing has been throughout history; claiming your spot and follow the law of physics. And endless game of chicken between a bunch of highly competitive human beings.
          An amazing piece of race craft and by far the best overtake of the season. Stuff of legends.

          And if you don’t appreciate that, than you’re watching the wrong sport.

          1. I agree with pantherjag. VER did not leave room for LEC and was not ahead (they hit wheels).
            Had this been a wall instead of runoff would it still have been fair? Do the rules regarding leaving space change depending on what is at the track boundary?

          2. So you just want to let them race, bang each other off track, as long as they do it perfectly.

            Guess you love Maradona’s 86 handball goal as well, just for the art of cheating.

            I can perfectly appreciate Max’ race craft, just too bad he went dirty with the overtake, but that was his own fault, and he should have lost. Too bad the stewards chickened out.

          3. @oconomo

            A very Hollywood description of what happened but as is often the case of the movies…..a long way of reality.

        2. You need to make the corner, not the apex.. People just seem to make stuff up in benefit/disadvantage of their favorite/least favorite driver.

          1. @Oxnard

            Who’s making stuff up? Verstappen did brake late, did miss the apex, did understeer, did open the steering, did make contact with Leclerc, did force Leclerc of the track.

            Sure you dont have to make the apex and just the corner but if another car is also in that corner and has a right to a piece of that corner then you have to use the rest of the corner.

            Verstappen had 3/4 of the track at entry, mid and exit in which to operate and this wasnt enough for him either by choice or by lack of control and he ended up on the piece of track that Leclerc was operating in

      2. Crowding someone off-track in the process of an overtake is in breach of the F1 regulations. Therefore, Max broke the regulations of F1.

        Turning into someone when this can only cause a collision is in breach of the F1 regulations. Therefore, Charles broke the regulations of F1.

        As such, both were at risk of getting a penalty. Unless the stewards were suggesting nobody contributed at all to the collision, or that they were OK with it happening (neither of which seems plausible), then what appears to have happened was that both contributed, that penalising both would be just plain silly, and decided to cancel them out instead to leave a “racing incident” verdict. Perhaps calculating the mathematics of this (being more complicated than most calls, which tend to be “Driver A is clearly innocent but did Driver B get this wrong or is it a racing incident?” fare) contributed to the length of the deliberations.

        On the other hand, the longer one waits to act on information, the less likely one is to act on it. Perhaps the very length of the deliberations was a factor in getting a “racing incident” verdict, regardless of what happened in that gap…

        It’s fairly common for late-race incidents where both drivers may have contributed to an incident to get a “lite” version of this treatment, regardless of position in the field, because stewards are required to use all available information to make a verdict. If they think they’re still going to be debating it when the drivers are freed from their press duties (the post-hearing debate took an hour and 10 minutes, some time would have been spent reviewing video and the like before that, and I recall the podium drivers’ compulsory duties are only about an hour long), then jurisprudence requires that the drivers be permitted to give any evidence they may have.

        I’m surprised the drivers would have an hour’s worth of evidence on a five-second incident, but I could imagine both of them asking a ton of questions and being given long explanations in an attempt to clarify the effects of minor variations in hypothetical actions. Remember, the stewards want the drivers to not be hauled up in front of their fellows at subsequent races, and drivers are looking for every advantage they can get.

        Given the number of problems that have resulted from hasty decisions in the past, ruling that all drivers have equal chance to defend themselves is going to mean every incident goes to post-race decision-making. So zero chance of spectators knowing who won before they got home.

        1. @pantherjag
          Dude, the only one living in fantasy land is you!
          Everything you say, all your “arguments”, is pure wishful thinking, nothing more, nothing less.
          My description on the other hand is 100 accurate, a factual description of what actually happened, and confirmed by basically everyone professionally involved in this sport. (Because they understand, and love, pure racing perfection.)
          And if you really believe you’re right (which I highly doubt), than you have literally zero understanding of racing.

          1. Glad you’re not being hyperbolic there…

      3. No he didn’t. He caused a collision to gain a position. It’s hard to prove and there’s the excuse of intentionality…
        So he got away with cheating.

        PS: he definitely would have gotten a penalty if there was a wall at the side of the track and he would have knocked Leclerc into it…

  6. Agree entirely. It seems clear that the steward decided they’d take a long time almost immediately after they incident: they must have judged it was too late in the race to decided before it finished, and so took the option of making a ‘thorough’ decision, including the drivers and reviewing past incidents (despite claiming that each is different and should be analysed on its own merits). I don’t know whether this was a one-off response to the flak they took in Canada after a relatively quick decision during the race, or they intend to undertake mammoth sessions each time now – presumably (hopefully) the former.

    Personally I think they should decide as quickly as possible (within a lap) in race and everyone – drivers, teams, fans – need to learn to accept these decisions for what they are: made with fair intent but subject to error and divergence of opinion like anything else. Why? Because otherwise the rules and procedures just become ever more complicated and time-consuming and subject to appeal (‘litigation’) which erodes trust and interest. Plus decisions made quickly allow all the parties to react still during the race, if they can. For example, had Max been told to return the position as a penalty he’d still maybe have time to try passing again. For the same reason, results shouldn’t be changed after a penalty has been issued – appeals should be like football, rescinding the effects of a penalty (like grid drops or fines) but not the outcome of a completed race.

    1. @david-br Not changing the results of a race after a penalty is issued invalidates the race result and destroys trust. It defeats the point of issuing the penalty. It’s one reason I don’t trust football or NASCAR.

      1. @alianora-la-canta I don’t think so, like I said, it’s a basic acceptance of fallibility and also the fact that time travel is currently impossible! If you rule that a penalty decision in football was wrong after the event, how are going to redress that? And do you stop watching football because refs make mistakes? Alternatively, simply don’t allow appeals! Few situations are cut and dry, like the VER-LEC incident you described very well above, with the actions of both drivers leading to a collision and LEC going off track. Either you accept the principle of independent arbitration and a limit to its capacity to ever get anything 100% right, or you do as Vettel suggests and ‘let the drivers get on with it’. How you stop corner cutting beats me though – you’d just have everyone taking the shortest possible route. Maybe just design tracks with that in mind?

        1. @david-br Unfortunately, not changing the results to reflect that someone actually won the race makes the entire race look like a worthless lie.

          I don’t watch football, partly because the number of blatantly wrong decisions that occur make it difficult to give credence to the results.

          1. @alianora-la-canta But I think it’s precisely the fact that penalties and appeals mess up the ‘actual’ results (like who crossed the line first) that created the kind of doubt you’re talking about. To that extent, I think it would have been much better for Vettel’s penalty to have been served on-track in some way, rather than adding a time penalty that meant he crossed the line first but didn’t win. That creates a degree of unreality. Whereas a drive-through (much harsher, obviously) or telling him to cede the place to Hamilton would have avoided that issue.

            I don’t watch football much now because my team (Manchester United) are currently complete rubbish and too much emotional distress to watch :OP Bad ref decisions have always been a part of football though.

          2. @david-br I’m not talking about doubt, but certainty. If a bad call is obvious, and is left to stand, then it absolutely does remove trust in the validity of the result and the value of the competition leading to it.

            An in-race penalty would have been preferable had that been available to the stewards, but there’s a timing cut-off for that (to give drivers the chance to serve it – note it cannot be taken on or after the last lap), so the next-best option is to issue a post-race penalty.

            Ceding the position would have been an option in the rules already, had the alleged offence been retaining an unfair advantage (which is, incidentally, the offence I think he should have been charged with in the first place). However, dangerous moves aren’t considered to be cancellable so straightforwardly, therefore the stewards had no option to issue it. Also, the FIA considers dangerous moves to be more serious than mere improperly retaining an advantage, so they couldn’t give the same penalty for both…

            (I’ve not watched football since I was a small child. Considering that my metric for fairness was 1994-style F1, football couldn’t have been doing a brilliant job to make me consider it spectacuarly less willing to create an environement where one could believe the rules were taken seriously by competitors).

  7. You can actually hear him saying “there was a lot at stake”. If the same had happened for 8th place between Magnussen and Giovanazzi, they’d have taken 5 minutes and interview no one, even if for those guys 8th place is an important achievement these days.

    I actually think they went as far as considering the ticket sales at Zandvoort next year if they strippes Max from that win.

    1. @fer-no65
      In my opinion, this was a political decision. Had there been a wall and not a run-off area, Max would have smashed Charles against the wall – not even mentioning, how generous Charles has been in leaving Max soooooo much space and really only turned into the corner, as he only wanted to use the track by default and not the run-off area.

      1. @milansson had there been a wall, Charles would have done what all other drivers usually do when they’re on the outside and not ahead: lift.

        In most other cases that’s exactly what happens, the driver on the outside either lifts or, if there’s tarmac, swerves wide.

        For the life of me I have no idea why this was even a point of contention. This is racing, this is what you see happening in pretty much each and every race in pretty much each and every racing category (with the minor difference that in most cases, the driver on the outside knows he has to lift or swerve).

        It’s like most people were watching their first ever race and think something new or extraordinary happened there.

        1. @mattds

          I am as confused as you are with the reasoning of some people here.
          We’re watching actual racing perfection, and the want penalties? Wth….

          1. This website seems 99% anti-Max these days, including some of the articles. It’s getting a bit too obvious now.

          2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            2nd July 2019, 22:32

            I haven’t watched the race as I’m overseas but I’ve seen the footage of the incident and know about Verstappen’s incredible charge.

            Unfortunately it was a clear penalty – it was unfortunate that Max’s car wasn’t ahead but they were racing and Charles had nowhere to go.

            One of the worst calls of all time in F1.

        2. It’s a point of contention due to breach of multiple rules. I am confused as to why anyone familiar with F1’s rule book is confused about this being in front of the stewards. (It would not have been in front of the stewards in some other series, because they either have different rules – such as NASCAR – or they apply the relevant rules in a different way, such as WEC).

          1. @alianora-la-canta sorry, but no. The F1 regulations have contained a clause for many, many years that drivers cannot crowd other drivers off-track. Yet that is what we see in every race, in every racing category, when drivers on the inside simply run drivers on the outside out of road when exiting a corner. It is never punished.

            Hence, the rulebook, or this particular rule at least, does not hold much value in some cases – exiting corners being one of those cases.

            And it never being punished is exactly the reason why it now baffles me that some are acting like somehow something really weird happened here. Again, the only reason it usually does not end in some wheel-banging is because the driver on the outside swerves or lifts.

          2. @mattds Simply because something happens every race doesn’t mean an instance of it happening won’t be looked at by the stewards. Especially since at the moment, we seem to get at least one instance of crowding getting reviewed by the stewards per race (and, contrary to your assertion, sometimes punish drivers for crowding – it’s the “sometimes” that’s one of the issues here).

            The rulebook does not exempt corner exits from Article 16.

  8. David Hunter
    2nd July 2019, 13:26

    The way it was handled was a joke. I think they need a new rule that basically states: when the incident is so finely teetering on the cusp of a penalty or not a penalty (as seems the case with many fan’s discussions) then the benefit of the doubt should be given and a penalty should NOT be awarded. If it’s a clear and obvious infraction then fair enough. However if everyone has to skip through a frame at a time from multiple viewpoints, then frankly by that point you’ve proven the incident is so close to call that to make a call and penalise a driver goes against the spirit of the sport.

    How many massive football tournaments have been decided on perhaps one bad decision, but made on the spot? I think F1 will be far more fun and engaging if it took this approach to make tough decisions quickly and just move on. Having people wait 3 hours to know who won is just ridiculous and should never happen again.

    Again I reiterate, there should be a rule where, if the decision is that close to call, then the benefit of the doubt gets given and no penalty is handed out. Seems simple enough and we’ll see some spectacular racing worth talking about as a result, with no penalties to really detract from the fun of what is after all entertainment.

    1. That would be impossible. Every rule has to have a boundary, else it doesn’t exist. Every rule has to be in a language, which will inherently cause loopholes and grey areas even in allegedly objective situations (Ferrari bargeboard measurement of Malaysia 1999, I’m looking at you). If being in a grey area or loophole means it cannot be considered for a penalty, then the grey area moves, which means eventually the rule falls into disuse.

      A sport with no rules is not a sport, it’s a bunch of ideas on the ground.

      The frame-by-frame element is inherent to the nature of accurately judging how collisions occur. The stewards know that the teams and viewers all have access to frame-by-frame (thanks to computing technology, often before the stewards have had time to announce they’re looking at an incident with the possibility of a penalty) so they have no choice but to do likewise if they want the audience to give their opinion credence, or the teams to trust the stewarding enough to continue to send teams into the championship. Also, the FIA are acutely aware of all that, and cannot therefore tell the stewards to ignore information they have that might be relevant to the decision, unless there is a clear verdict one way or another already.

      The only way to have fair decisions that take less time is to have less ambiguous rules regarding what is and is not allowed. Which is likely to either lead to “all’s fair in love and war” (i.e. collisions allowed including deliberate ones), or “strict non-contact” (i.e. anyone in a collision will be immediately penalised unless they blatantly lost out due to its occurrence). Neither is likely to encourage racing – the former, because it will turn to glorified bumper cars at best and weaponised cars at worst, and the latter because it makes overtaking attempts too risky.

    2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      2nd July 2019, 22:36

      It’s actually a clear infraction in F1 – it’s a joke that the stewards didn’t give Max a penalty for that. They can spin it any way they want, if the race victory wasn’t in question, they would have instantly given a penalty to the driver.

  9. I completely agree, the decision was correct but the length of time to make it was a joke.

    I believe there should be strict time limits. Firstly, once the drivers have stood on the podium, the podium positions should not be able to be changed. If that requires a short delay to the ceremony & media commitments, so be it. Second, all decisions and the remainder of the result finalised within, say, an hour of the race finishing. If any infringements are discovered/penalised after that, penalties should not affect the race result (although deducting driver and/or team points should be an option).

    1. @drmouse Due to technical regulations having to be checked, the delay would have to be several hours, even if the lock was only applied for the podium contenders and even if elaborate ruses (that sometimes get missed for multiple races) are excluded from the rule.

      1. @alianora-la-canta

        Due to technical regulations having to be checked… etc

        Personally, I wouldn’t say this should stop the rule or increase the time.

        If a technical breach is found, the rules could allow for penalties including removal of all championship points received for the race for both driver and team and grid penalties for the next race (or, potentially, more than one). The effect on the championship is not much different to that under the current rules, but the race result is finalised.

        Alternatively, the time limit rules could apply only to sporting regulations, and technical regulations could still affect the result of the race beyond that time limit.

        1. @drmouse I already dislike the amount of cross-race penalties that occur due to gearbox/engine penalties. Imposing them for potentially minor breaches that rightfully should have been imposed in the race where they actually occurred gives incentive for teams and drivers to deliberately cheat in one race if they think they will be weak in the next one. Finalising a false race result for the sake of finalisation is harmful to the sport. (I grant that serious breaches of the regulations do warrant penalties in following races, where it is not possible or just to contain the entire penalty within the event where the infraction occurred).

          Is this also a good time to mention the typical person at the track sticks around rather longer than the typical TV viewer. The whole “get a quick result for the sake of the audience” works less well when many of the audience aren’t watching by the time the podium usually rolls (10-15 minutes post-chequered flag), let alone long enough that a reasonable call can be made on the average infraction of regulations in the F1 book.

          1. @alianora-la-canta

            Fair enough, I can respect that.

            However, even though it happens rarely enough that it’s probably a minor point, changing the podium positions after the podium ceremony leaves a very bad taste in the mouth. It’s not about getting a quick result for the sake of the audience, IMHO, but about making sure that those who stand on the podium are those who finish the race in the top 3 by the official race result.

            In addition, “they had media commitments” is a really bad excuse for a delay. If there is something to investigate, media commitments should be put to one side and the investigation performed first. This includes delaying the podium ceremony if an investigation could change the result. This is a sport, and sporting commitments should come before media commitments.

  10. RocketTankski
    2nd July 2019, 14:04

    The drivers are both going to say they are innocent, so it’s pointless to ask them anyway. Does a football ref ask players whether they deserve a red card?
    Should be one ref (chief steward) and a couple of assistants, run the video playback and check the GPS / car input data. Give a final decision within 3 minutes, or else dismiss it as a racing incident.

    1. Football’s rules do not, at any point, require the referees to interpret the players’ thoughts. (Hearings involving extended bans sometimes do). Either the foul happened or it didn’t, nobody (except people at said hearings, which are very rare) cares why.

      However, motorsport regulations are a lot more nuanced, otherwise everyone would be getting penalties every race and there would be no chance of enforcing enough of them to maintain credibility. As such, the detail of why drivers think they are innocent becomes important in many infractions. Sometimes, the stewards can look at an incident ant think “Well, if that driver had meant to break the rules, they’d have acted differently,” and in some cases that changes if there’s a penalty (if there is a penalty, it almost always changes the amount of penalty). Other times, it’s obvious that no possibly excuse could justify an action. However, there are many occasions where it’s not that simple.

      Also, it’s rare that an incident is even flagged for investigation within 3 minutes, let alone possible for the video playback and car input/GPS data to be processed in that time. Unlike football, most of the field of play cannot be seen in sufficient detail by one person at a time. Viewers might make snap decisions that way in motorsport regardless of the foregoing, but it’s part of the reason even obvious incidents get wildly varying verdicts. For stewards to maintain credibility, they can’t copy the viewers’ judgment tactics.

  11. Levente (@leventebandi)
    2nd July 2019, 14:17

    Although I do think the decision was correct (although the overly aggro driving is a problem F1 created for itself by for example making god without any criticism from Senna) the delivery was indeed terrible.

    Btw, how could that happen, that the report on Hamilton blatantly lying to the stewards at the weekend went unnoticed by the british media.
    One would wonder…

    1. It wasn’t ignored by the print media or the broadcasters. In fact there has been numerous articles where Hamilton said it was his mistake and accepts the punishment.One such was on this very site. So you either missed it all, or were just desperate to crowbar Hamilton into the conversation. Now you could have forgot with everything else that’s been going on; but I’d go for you just blatantly lied.

      1. Levente (@leventebandi)
        2nd July 2019, 22:40

        Hehe the groundbreaking honesty was after he was handed the penalty.
        In the stewards room, he lied he did not know anything about kimi being around, then the stewards played him back the recorded radio messages where the team was signalling him.
        I brought it into the conversation as it is related to the stewarding this weekend.

    2. @leventebandi The incident was covered quite thoroughly by the British media at the time, including the role other McLaren members made in the action, and how it was the event that ended Ron Dennis’ first reign at McLaren. There are multiple articles about it at RaceFans dating from the time in question. I’d also add that it is extremely unlikely that he was the only person who ever lied in a steward’s room; he simply has the dubious distinction of being the first to be penalised for it due to the combination of the size of the whopper, the consequences to Jarno Trulli, and the relative straigthforwardness with which the stewards discovered they’d been duped.

      1. Levente (@leventebandi)
        2nd July 2019, 22:41

        I’m not talking about 2008, but this weekend

  12. (curious about possible comments I may get on this one).
    I think, in this case, AI could help. Cognitive machines to be filled with information from previous decisions, pictures or video evidence, link it to the decision and based on facts and data (emotions excluded), the machine could give a recommendation to the stewards in a very short time frame – so that could save them some time.

    1. Skynet is planned for the 2021regulations

    2. GtisBetter (@)
      2nd July 2019, 15:55

      Even though it’s called IA, it’s actually pretty stupid. It would give a list of answers and an probablity of being right.

    3. With some deep learning (like actually deep learning), they should be able to do it.

      But F1 fans will moan anyways cos thats their favorite pastime.

    4. @milansson Speaking as someone who spends part of their working day fixing errors relatively simple neural learning machine bots make classifying objective information, it will be a while before they are capable of processing something as subjective as the typical FIA rulebook with anything approaching the accuracy of a human. (The Technical Regulations, on the other hand, might be more realistic).

      1. To expand on @passingisoverrated‘s explanation, neural learning machine bots in the examples I see do something like the following:

        – look through a summary of the data
        – generate percentages for each possible answer in their framework
        – pick the biggest option if it is above a certain percentage
        – otherwise, check timer (to prevent infinite/overlong-running loops)
        – if timer is above threshold, act on biggest percentage regardless of how big it actually is
        – if timer is below threshold, use learning to determine which of the remaining data is most likely to bring one answer above threshold
        – look through that data
        – generates some more results
        – add results
        – go back to stage 2

        Yaru is of course correct. People complained about F1 results in the 1960s and if it exists, will complain in the 2060s. Just like people complained about horse racing in the 1860s, chariot racing in the 260s and about most other things in human existence.

  13. Drivel as expected

  14. Neil (@neilosjames)
    2nd July 2019, 14:40

    Was a little bit silly, and I still have no idea why they even needed to mess around looking at ‘past incidents’, when it’s long been entirely acceptable to run someone out of road at the exit of a corner if you ‘own’ the line.

    1. Slavisa (@sylversurferr)
      2nd July 2019, 19:28

      There is no such a thing in rules “owning a line”.

      1. @sylversurferr It’s implied in the rules, because drivers are not allowed to cause collisions and thanks to physics, objects in motion on a surface tend towards certain lines given particular forces. If it was not possible to own a line, there would be no need for a rule about causing collisions because nobody could know in advance what actions might cause one.

      2. Of course there is such a thing as driving the racing line out of the corner. The car on the inside has the advantage and thus drives the racing line whereas the car on the outside needs to yield. Examples are:
        – Hamilton vs. Rosberg in Canada 2016:
        – Vettel vs Verstappen and Verstappen vs Vettel in Brazil 2016:

        In all these cases you see the car on the inside take the line and the car on the outside yielding because they run out of room on the outside. It is is clear cut.

  15. Noone likes incapable stewards and bureaucracy in a live sports event, get you act together. As someone here said deliver the final decision within a couple of minutes.

    If Ferrari is burning to much oil or something like that they can have their meetings and summons and afternoon tea and whatnot but they need competent people with the power to rule on live raceincidents.

  16. I am not a fan of Baseball, but you have to admire their approach to officiating.
    What the umpire says … FINAL. When does he indicate the outcome of the play … immediately.
    Is there room for further discussion … NO. Decisions are final.

    1. Thats also how it works in football. But people protest and moan anyways.

      1. Assuming you’re talking about soccer, that’s not really the case any more since VAR were introduced.

    2. I tend to agree with you. This is how it is in every other sport I can think of. Obviously, they didn’t have a lot of time to deliberate, given how late in the race the incident occurred, but I think 3 experienced, clever people could have rapidly come to a reasonably informed decision and thrown the hammer down before the podium. If a few minutes delay because of it, so be it!

  17. The drivers should have gone straight to the stewards upon exiting their cars. That way if they had ruled in Charles’ favor he’d be able to stand on the top step and everyone would know the result of the race when they left the track.

  18. There is a certain entertainment and suspense value to the delay, though. It makes people speculate and argue, giving attention to F1 and traffic to sites like this. Another option, instead of speeding it up, would be public hearings, held in the FiA-headquarters a week and a half later, and livestreamed on F1s streaming service. We should replace the stewards with more entertaining personnel, though. Give Bernie a job in F1 again, get Briatore in there, revive/clone Jean Marie Balestre.

    1. These are awful ideas for F1, although creative :)

  19. First of all it wasn’t a foul. Second, how do people still try to compare this to Vettel?? How??

    Max opened up his steering wheel to get the best exit, that is how the sport worked for ever. Besides that Max can ‘miss’ the apex as much as he wants, or did i miss the new bloody rule that forces any driver who owns the inside lane to hit the apex at all times?

    We all know what Max did. Knowing he wouldn’t have the slightest chance against the Ferrari’s traction and speed, even with much better tires, he didn’t give Leclerc as much room as Leclerc would have liked. Leclerc then decided not to give in to Max who unfortunately already owned the turn.

    Bad luck, good luck next time!

  20. @crammond As a description of hell, you’d have even Dante quaking.

  21. I agree about interviewing drivers. Thats not something they should do since its not party of the normal process of.

    I disagree about 3 hours being too long. Without the rush of the race, I rather they take their time with the decision and three hours still feels okay to me.

    In other words, use the same processes but dont rush it if you don’t need to.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      2nd July 2019, 23:02

      Obviously they shouldn’t take their time… they made one of the worst calls in F1.

      The call completely overshadowed Max’s spectacular charge. It’s not even a talking point because the call was ridiculous and it took a team of experts 3 hours to make it.

      Wasn’t Tom Kristensen a steward? How this could happen with a seasoned driver like him present??? Did he simply not know the rules of F1 or failed to apply them? Did his presence and possible ignorance sway the decision towards a LeMans ruling?

      This is a ruling disaster in F1…

      1. @freelittlebirds No they made exactly the right call.

  22. Decisions need to be immediate, like in football
    in Indycar they are much better at this
    don’t always get it right , but much better that way

  23. Hmmm yet they didn’t feel the need to get the drivers input in Canada!

    1. @asanator They had two weeks to get the driver input and they felt the information they already had before it was offered was sufficent to make a decision. If a definite and accurate decision is possible without waiting for the driver, that is what will happen. This was not felt to be the case this weekend, which is why it wasn’t decided just before the podium (as Max has experienced in the past).

  24. I wish we could get back to the time penalties were not applied at all, only flags and proper disqualifications.
    In general, all drivers behave pretty decent on track, they seem to know what they are doing, and yes, occasionally one driver sees a bit red (and it’s far rarer than one might assume), but let’s be honest: There was only one Schumacher, the rules were basically written for him, and with him gone they should be able to rip the rulebook up again.
    (This doesn’t change the fact by any means that it was amazing to see Schumacher in action; one of a kind.)

  25. Francorchamps (@francorchamps17)
    2nd July 2019, 17:17

    Thank you for this article Keith! You don’t need 3 hours to analyse a decision Verstappen made in half a second.

  26. Did it not just ramp up the tension as we awaited the outcome? That’s how it worked for me, wanting the decision to go Max’s way (the right way.)

  27. RocketTankski
    2nd July 2019, 18:31

    They could settle all disputes with an arm wrestle. Best of three. Job done.

  28. I agree with many of the points here. However, I was surprised to see nothing about how F1 seems beholden to its broadcast contracts. They couldn’t speak to the drivers until 18:00 because of all the broadcast obligations that first needed to be fulfilled. I’m not aware of other sports where the actual event is put on hold to satisfy broadcaster “requirements.” If they really needed to speak to the drivers – by the way, good point about if the incident had happened earlier in the race (e.g. Vettel/Hamilton in Canada), would they have waited to speak to the drivers – they should have put the podium on hold and had a 10-15 minute max meeting with the drivers, then delivered the verdict, and podium while the paper work is completed. No need for an investigation to take more than twice as long as the race and especially because of broadcast obligations. That’s nonsense. I’m sure the drivers also didn’t like going through all the interviews etc etc, still not knowing the result.

  29. I’m sure I won’t be the first to say this…When the drivers pass the chequered flag, their race is over. Doesn’t matter what anyone thinks, it’s over. Surely there’s a case for a similar rule that says, for the stewards (except in exceptional circumstances), once the podium has happened, it’s over. I KNOW it may not be absolutely fair but there should be a line drawn. All of us fans know that when the result is changed later, even though it may be ‘right’, we all feel a bit sickened by it, even if it favours the guys we’re rooting for. Put a penalty in the next race if necessary, but no-one – especially the paying punters – should be in any doubt about who has won when they leave the circuit. In fact, put it in the rules for 2021. Podium = Result. Apply penalties at the next race if needed, or make the decision before whipping out the Bizet.

    1. The nearest rule F1 has is that protests from other teams have to be in within an hour of the race result. As you can imagine, this rather precludes rapid provisions of results.

      Also, I really, really dislike the notion of people being able to gain improperly from one race by sacrificing their next one. It happens too often with engines and gearboxes, I’d rather not see it happen with driving conduct. Races should be self-contained where possible, not have their consequences spread out across multiple events (unless someone does something so awful that a ban is the only way to get the message home).

    2. Wrong, brazil 2003 raikkonen celebrated first place and like a week later fisichella was declared winner!

  30. The FIA are slowly losing the plot or have lost it completely.
    DRS overtaking has so biased their minds that they have forgotten overtaking is usually done in the braking zone and often completed after the apex.
    The cars are not driving on rails so you can’t expect an always exact line through a corner. At the time, a driver isn’t expected to completly off the race line to fend another driver off while securing an overtake.
    The problem Vettel had with his penalty was for going off track and rejoining unsafely. This was mainly because he came back and ran across the track but then stopped just at the white line, which gave the stewards the impression he had sufficient control of his car.
    For Max, he banged wheels with the other car, and that has always been the prefared way to make contact.
    So why take so long.
    The FIA stewards have also applied emotions sometimes and politics when handing out penalties, which ends up confusing the viewers and making a mess of the whole process.

  31. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    2nd July 2019, 22:50

    The stewards need to be able to rule before the podium. Once the incident happened, they needed to begin the investigation. They had a few laps and added time for the drivers to arrive on the podium.

    Their stalling unfortunately made it impossible to overturn the televised podium as that’s a much more difficult decision to make.

    In this case it was a clear penalty and that begs the question of how the stewards managed to screw it up.

    I favor both drivers 50/50 and it’s 100% a penalty whether it was committed by Max or Charles on lap 1,2,3,…70. Sounds like the race was awesome and I’ll watch it when I get home but the incident was a penalty as captured on footage.

    Nice charge by Max – so close to victory. He should give that one to Charles.

    1. Nope.

  32. Stewart Moir
    2nd July 2019, 22:59

    The real reason for the delay? The bearings in the wheel the stewards spin to make such important decisions had seized from recent overuse. They are special bearings with ceramic balls and carbon fiber races. The only suitable replacements with less than acceptable wear on them were attached to the throttle assembly of Kubica’s Williams, and had to be removed from the car (the Ferrari pit crew was supposed to remove them, but were all still standing in line at the concession stand waiting to get gelatos since before the first pit stops, and had to be rounded up), pass technical inspection, and be installed in the wheel. Then there was the mater of drawing straws to see which steward got to spin the wheel…………well, you get the picture.

  33. I agree with the ruling but both drivers should have been penalized 5 seconds since they were equally at fault for colliding. I do chuckle every time a VER fan states that VER was ahead since BOTH collisions were exactly wheel to wheel. In retrospect, a dual fault collision should result in a 2.5 second penalty for each driver since the penalty for a single fault incident is 5 seconds.

  34. More kindergarten stuff.

  35. It’s shameful by FIA. No doubt in my mind this was all because it was for a win and all the Verstappen fans in the grandstands + the Canada debacle. The reason it took so long was so that they could make sure everyone was on the same page.

    There is apparently a clause that even FIA could be had for ‘putting the sport in disrepute’ as the teams have been threatened with before, and I honestly think the inconsistent and amateurish stewarding is approaching the line. Remember a couple of years ago when the race director even had to explain himself at the next race driver’s press conference? There’s just been too many scandals, and then I haven’t even counted the ones from the Mosley era (for obvious reasons).

  36. I have been in a plenty of Stewards meeting on many different occasions (not in F1 but in Rally, Hill climb, Karting, Off road, etc.). Sometimes it feels as a steward you are about the make really tense and critical decision, but actually not. It is generally about approving unofficial result as official.
    But, sometimes things get crazy (like in F1 recently). Some of the stewards get nervous, and don’t know what to do, what to say. On the other side, there are solid ones, they don’t doubt anything, know the rule book like they wrote it, and never step back. With these ones, it is very easy to agree with and meetings cut very short. They don’t care who is finished in which place, don’t care about the time, don’t care about the organization, don’t care about the names. They just talk with rule book, sports code, nothing more. When you say “rules are like that, BUT…” at that time there is not any way to make a decision in a short term.
    I guess, there was too much “BUT” on Sunday’s meeting.

    1. @bnwllc3 Where are those people? Why can’t F1 get hold of them?

      1. I don’t have any idea how it works around the world, but, in Turkey we volunteer in motorsports. As you begin from the bottom level -which is safety duty on special stages or intervention duty on track races- you need to be better than the rest to reach higher levels. What I mean ‘difference’, is to keep your temper in some emergency cases. And, one day if you are good enough, you may become a race steward.
        Why can’t F1 get hold of us, I don’t know what is the REAL criteria to be in that position. Because, if you look at the rules, there are tens of volunteers in Turkey to suit FIA’s criterias.

  37. Dale Foster
    3rd July 2019, 10:56

    I would argue banging wheel to wheel is OK, in fact it is a skill, contact in any other was is worthy of a penalty for at least one driver!!! I know there are dangers to getting wheel to wheel contact wrong but this is motorsport!!! I would be interested to see how the F1 stewards would deal with some of the formula E races I have seen lately! I think formula E is a bit too much bumper cars at times and there is nothing better than a good skilful clean overtake, with both drivers emerging unscathed and ready to fight over the next apex, but there needs to be, in football terms, more playing the advantage to see how things pan out. It would also be nice to have a time limit on the in-race decisions so we can quickly get back to the racing once an investigation has been announced.

  38. My first thought was they were waiting for the Verstappen fans to disperse to avoid hooliganism if the decision went against him.

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