Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2019

Vettel penalty backlash had no effect on stewarding – Masi

2019 Canadian Grand Prix

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The backlash over the penalty which cost Sebastian Vettel victory in the Canadian Grand Prix hasn’t influenced subsequent decisions by the stewards, says FIA race director Michael Masi.

Vettel’s five-second time penalty, for forcing Lewis Hamilton to take evasive action when he rejoined the track, prompted widespread criticism from fans and drivers. Ferrari requested a review of the decision, which was rejected following a hearing at the following round in France.

However Masi, who took over as race director from the late Charlie Whiting at the beginning of the season, said he does not feel the backlash has put himself or the stewards who makepenalty decisions under any greater pressure.

“I don’t know that the pressure so much increased,” he said. “Probably the pressure is always there on all of us to be quite honest.”

“This is my ninth event in the role so for me the pressure’s up here permanently,” he added.

“From the stewards’ end they sit there and they consider everything on its merits. So personally I don’t feel that there’s any added pressure as a result of Canada or any other incident that’s occurred.

“They’re all esteemed ladies and gentlemen and gentlemen in various fields of their own. They’re all very experienced stewards and that’s part of the role effectively of being an umpire at the end of the day.”

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Following the Canadian Grand Prix incident Kimi Raikkonen questioned why the penalty had been given when “they keep telling us this year that we are more free to race”.

Masi says the FIA has relaxed its approach to some areas of the regulations. “The philosophy of ‘let them race’ that’s been reiterated for the past couple of years started before my time,” he explained.

“We’re very much trying to do our best that silly menial things, or as much as they are, that maybe two or three years ago would have incurred a penalty, probably these days don’t have an impact or as much of an impact.”

He pointed out this is why decisions on some recent incidents may not always appear consistent with rulings from several years earlier. “I hate people going back a number of years because the rulebook’s evolved, the manner in which they’ve been interpreted has evolved with everyone being involved in that discussion.

“So when we start talking about precedents comparing an incident from three years ago what may have been a breach then because of the way it was interpreted has evolved and may have become lessened in some ways.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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15 comments on “Vettel penalty backlash had no effect on stewarding – Masi”

  1. I sure saw an effect while taking the time for the verst/lec incident

  2. tony mansell
    3rd July 2019, 11:11

    I think it would be good to move on from the endless navel gazing. I’d like the media to be more interested in the great race than the great penalty drama. Everything is totally out of kilter in reporting on F1. We had a sea of orange, a quite beautiful track that I have been lucky enough to visit, still my favourite away day track and a race that will live long in the memory. This isn’t a criticism of Racefans particularly but its like Glastonbury articles spending most of the aftermath talking about the clear up, the bad drugs, the fact it was better in 1987. Media people say they are just reporting, its a shame they cant take the lead on the good and measure out how much bad stuff we really have to repeatedly endure. Sky try, of course they would but most everyone else just wants to keep picking the wound

    1. Absolutely Tony, there is so much emphasis on the negative in many forms of media.

      Reasoned discussion and debate (which we do see a lot of here on RaceFans) is one thing, but the constant thrashing of each minor decision (which we also experience here on RaceFans) draws ones view away from the fact that we did actually see a damn good race at what many would say is a likeable circuit.

      1. Agreed, the Ferrari pit stop, Merc struggles, Lewis breaking his wing (presumably on the kerbs), the late (and early) charge by Vettel, Lando Norris! are all topics I feel got not enough mention.

  3. Fair enough from Masi, I didn’t expect the stewards to be affected by the backlash from Canada, however, a big part of the debate here is that many key F1 insiders don’t think SV/LH should have even been investigated to begin with, and in Austria there was no foul after all, so…

    Also, I think it is only natural to compare to past incidents even if one can argue that no two incidents are ever exactly identical.

  4. Reading the headline i straight away thought “Well,that’s obvious” ;)

  5. Obviously enough, but what I find funny in the whole affair, it’s not that Verstappen wasn’t penalised for the move – didn’t believe that that would be the case anyway -, but why on earth wasn’t he penalised for activating the DRS while already ahead of Leclerc… there’s no penalty in the rules for that or was it a system glitch, like the one that made Kubica DOD? Or was it just me that misinterpreted what is written in F1.com website (F1’s rule book to thick for me to extensively study it…)?

    1. @pedro80r Because Verstappen did not cross the DRS detection line before Leclerc. You saw him doing that several times where he on purpose did not cross the DRS detection line, so that he would still do the overtake on the inside and then as a bonus have DRS again on the next straight.

      1. Ahh, the loopholes! :) thanks you for the explanation… :)

        1. Not loopholes. Just Max’s intelligent use of the DRS detection lines to his advantage.

  6. When is the racing fan going to accept the FACT that F1 is the analog of WWE ( “professional wrestling”) not in that an outcome is predetermined but, in that an outcome is preferred and that whenever the so-called ” rules” can be used to effect the results they will be .
    A simple observation you can make and keep in mind is that “preferred ” drivers or teams will always be helped to victory or to move up in position so remember : if Hamilton can be helped by a manipulation of the rules Hamilton will be helped and if Verstappen can be helped he too will be helped ( there are other such “policies” but since these two have come into play as of late i shall note only these two) .
    Fairness simply is not to be considered by those applying the rules only the outcomer matters so…
    you can watch the exhibition called F1 or you can watch real auto racing like Indycar or most anything that is not F1 .
    I know this bothers many but, if you are going to be honest with yourself you need to accept this -sorry .

    1. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

      1. Ram, I can understand why some might feel that given the stewards have previously suggested that they might alter the level to which they will penalise a driver depending on where they are in the World Drivers Championship.

        When there was the incident with Vettel hitting Hamilton in Baku a few years ago, Paul Gutjahr, who was on the stewarding panel at the time, later stated that “we could have issued a more severe penalty…But Hamilton had no damage and we did not want to influence the world championship too much.”

        Now, the latter comment – about not wanting to influence the world drivers championship – caused a bit of a stir, since it brought into question whether the stewarding panel was influenced by the prominence of a driver and where they were in the WDC (in that instance, it involved a driver who had a narrow lead in the WDC).

        It did, as a result, raise questions about how neutral the stewards really are and whether they were in fact biased towards the drivers at the top of the WDC, particularly if they happen to be in a tight battle with another driver.

  7. :D Make no mistake all stewards were very much aware they were at REDBULL ring, deciding to take away a win from DUTCH REDBULL driver, infront of DUTCH fans. Thousands of DUTCH fans.

    Decision was slam dunk, he did not leave space, under current regulations it was hard to judge, previous cases people got penalties for this, but there is also pressure to let them race. (This is where I would put pressure on them aswell)

    Masi can say whatever he wants, those are the facts, that decision was not taken isolated from reality, that F1 would be in total meltdown if Max lost his hard earned elbow victory. 80% of the fans agree he was driver of the day and probably more than 50% agree he deserved it.

    So what can we learn form that? Regulations currently do not meet the expectations of the show observing public. Banging wheels is fun. What Vettel did was also fun, running off the road and coming back in the nick of time. Why are we punishing drivers for improving the show? I wanna see them duke it out in the paddock angry from ugly moves they did on the track.

  8. It sure did though. Because they now suddenly deemed Verstappen did nothing wrong because he was out to block Leclerc. Where is that mentioned in the rules as something that can negate a penalty?

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