Charles Leclerc, MaxVerstappen, Silverstone, 2019

FIA: Stewards did not soften stance on penalties at Silverstone

2019 British Grand Prix

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FIA race director Michael Masi denied drivers were given greater freedom to race each other aggressively in Sunday’s British Grand Prix.

The Silverstone race was lauded for its close, wheel-to-wheel action between the drivers and saw just a single in-race penalty, after Sebastian Vettel crashed into Max Verstappen.

This prompted some to suggest the stewards had taken a less strict line on driving standards last weekend. “It looked like it and it was great racing,” said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, following Verstappen’s thrilling duel with Charles Leclerc.

“It was entertaining for the crowds. They both ran a little bit wide to the last couple of turns but it was hard, fair racing and it was good to see.”

Horner said the decision whether to investigate incidents is “at the discretion of the race director, who did a good job today.” However Masi pointed out incidents can also be noted by the stewards themselves or referred to them by teams through him.

“The stewards have the right to investigate anything,” he explained. “Effectively I flag things more often than not, but depending on how hectic the race is and what’s happening the stewards are absolutely entitled to investigate things of their own volition, in any way, shape or form.”

Masi said stewards had previously adopted a ‘let them race’ philosophy which did not change following the controversial penalty decisions at the Canadian and Austrian Grands Prix.

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“The ‘let them race’ philosophy’s been adopted all year, to be quite honest,” he said. “I think the nature of the circuit, the way that it was, yes there was some wheel-to-wheel action but [it’s the] same as it was previously and it’s been judged in exactly the same manner. The nature of the way this venue is probably makes it a perceived view that it’s more of ‘let them race’ but it’s been adopted and applied in exactly the same way that it has been all year.”

How strictly the rules should be enforced is an “ongoing discussion”, said Masi: “What is ‘let them race’, what does it look like? [In] a lot of ways it was practical examples have shown what is and isn’t considered acceptable. I think it’s just one of those [things] that’s ongoing.”

There was no investigation into Verstappen’s move at turn 18 on lap 25, when he put all four wheels off the track while regaining a place from Leclerc. Masi said he did not recall the incident and no team had reported it to him: “If it was an issue, I can guarantee the team would have raised it with me immediately.”

Following the Austrian Grand Prix Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto and Leclerc claimed the decision not to penalise Verstappen had been “inconsistent” with past decisions. However the matter was not raised at the pre-race drivers’ briefing. “At the drivers meeting there was no discussion about it at all,” said Masi.

“I think if the drivers have got something to ask, believe me, they’ll ask. And if they want clarity, I haven’t seen a driver yet that holds back. But no, there was no queries about it whatsoever.”

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Charles Leclerc, Max Verstappen, Silverstone, 2019
Verstappen left the track while re-passing Leclerc

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Keith Collantine
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39 comments on “FIA: Stewards did not soften stance on penalties at Silverstone”

  1. I think if the drivers have got something to ask, believe me, they’ll ask. And if they want clarity, I haven’t seen a driver yet that holds back.

    I’d love to hear about the events that helped shape that opinion. It’d make for fun reading :)

  2. Am I the only one who saw VER touch LEC car and then pass him off track?

    1. and LEC pushing VER wide… you missed that?

      nobody complaint (as far as we could hear), it was real hard great racing, spectacle all over

      1. Didnt miss that. By VER’s own standards, VER should have backed off because LEC had the corner.

        1. The difference is that VER came out in front of LEC at Silverstone. At Austria LEC was behind VER after he had gone off track. So VER is right to say that. If LEC backed off in Austria, he would have more chance to overtake VER at the straight to the next turn.

      2. I did miss that because it didn’t happen.

        1. then review the race and look closely this time.

    2. No, I was shouting “track limits” at my TV when I saw VER pop out ahead of LEC during their battle.

      1. @megatron @geemac I was cringing. complete double standards, they’ll scoop up anything to find a way to justify why some can and some cannot, there’s not a single race where you don’t see bias.

      2. Then you probably noted that Charles was also off track with all 4 wheels in that incident.. That’s probably why Ferrari nor Charles complained.

    3. @megatron Given that it was LEC that pushed VER wide, and remembering me screaming at the screen in amazement when VER just kept his foot down then coming out ahead, I would call this one of the few good examples of “let them race” working as it should.

      And no, I’m definitely not a VER fan… But that fight increased my respect for both of them.

      1. Nonsense, lap 25, VER hit LEC then went out wide unnecessarily, LEC left him space until VER went fully off track ON HIS OWN ACCORD, VER then passed him while off track.

        1. look again and this time with your eyes open.
          its good to see there are fans, but blind fans with little or none f1 knowledge does not help here.

        2. @megatron Just saw it again. You probably should too…

          First they touch each other at the inside kerb; LEC is trying to move past VER on the inside, but VER doesn’t really leave any space for that. A bit 50/50, as they reached the apex roughly at the same time. LEC then pushes VER to the outside, and keeps him out, LEC even keeping his own wheels off the track for a few seconds. VER then completes the overtake on the outside while riding the kerbs (which is AFAIK considered part of the track).

          Great racing from both, with a bit of surfing the limit of the rules, mostly by LEC.

        3. I believe you will see LEC also had all 4 wheels across the line – so they were both off track fighting for position.

          My 2 cents this was a good non call – if LEC hadn’t went off then it would be something to review (which doesn’t mean any action should be taken)

          1. I made a bit of a mistake: It reads like I meant that LEC had all of his wheels off the track for a few seconds, what I meant to say was: LEC kept VER off the the track for a few seconds, to the point where he even had two of his own wheels off the track at one point.

          2. D’oh, that was not supposed to be in response to you, but to myself.

            BTW, I didn’t see LEC with all 4 wheels off the track at any point. Let me check again.

          3. @blueruck Ah, you mean when LEC is on the kerb. As I wrote above (though about VER): I’m pretty sure that kerbs are considered part of the racetrack.

          4. Nope, I’m wrong. According to Article 27.3 of the sporting regulations, they are not:

            Drivers will be judged to have left the track if no part of the car remains in contact with it and,
            for the avoidance of doubt, any white lines defining the track edges are considered to be part
            of the track but the kerbs are not.

            I guess that means both were naughty :)

  3. I saw Leclerc wanting to overtake Verstappen in Vale where there wasn’t much room, they touched wheels which forced Max offtrack (on the edge, but okay racing), then Leclerc drove in a wider angle around Club (which was not the racing line, for reference see where Sainz steered in as opposed to Leclerc) as to not let Verstappen back onto the track quite so easy (which is perfectly okay) but Verstappen hanging on around the outside of the track to overtake Leclerc (also, IMO perfectly okay)

    This is what racing should be like and we should celebrate it.

    1. Exactly. This is what racing is all about.

  4. to keep the job Michael Masi had 2 options, do a great job or please the top teams. he chose the latter.

    1. Option 3. Please the viewing audience without which racing wouldn’t exist.

      1. Option 4. call it as he sees it.

  5. The problem is, every driver is not as talented as Leclerc and Verstappen. If they let this kind of actions, someday someone may finish another driver’s championship hopes.

  6. Interesting. I agree with Horner that it sure did look like the stewards took the day off, lol, of course until the most blatant indiscretion happened between Max and Seb.

  7. Right, so they did not soften stance?

    I would love to see CEO of F1 now have a meeting with all stewards and FIA, and put the orders in to keep these stances right now.

    This is the show we want, this is how it should be. Blatant ramming off the road should be penalized, what others did should be rewarded.

    Charles earned driver of the day, that is some reward.

  8. It just makes me wonder why the stewards needed three hours to come to a decision in Austria… if that was worth an investigation than Silverstone had quite some of that as well…

    Though overall glad the FIA let them race

    1. 2 hrs 59 mins spent on: “What’s the safest way out of this circuit, past the orange horde, and out of the country?”
      1 minute spent on: “ Oh, hey, it actually isn’t that bad, we don’t need to give Max a penalty”

      (I kid, I kid, don’t jump on me!)

    2. Because in Austria someone complained and in Silverstone no one did (because of the result in Austria).

    3. Because they were waiting to speak with the driver first before they made a decision and the drivers had media & other obligations to fulfill before they could go see the Stewards

  9. I agree with Horner. Based on previous decisions, there were a number of things that could/would have been penalized in the battle between Max and Charles and the stewards were surprisingly (in a good way) quiet. I wonder if their decisions are based largely on the outcome. If Max had spun out during the battle would Charles have been penalized?

    1. I agree, they keep saying the outcomes makes no difference to the penalties but the opposite tends to show, the more serious stuff happens the bigger penalties.

  10. How about when CL and MV went into pits together, CL was out 1st then MV almost bang him, is it unsafe release for MV?

    1. No one had to take evasive action so no, I don’t think so.

      1. @silfen Agreed. Seems like they’re waiting for someone to die or be maimed before deciding that cars going two abreast down the pit lane is a bad idea.

    2. F1oSaurus (@)
      16th July 2019, 21:33

      No, the rules were clarified already fro the start that two cars pitting together would not be an unsafe release if they were released more or less simultaneously. Otherwise it would be incredibly unfair.

      What is not allowed though is to bang into another car. So what Verstappen did in Monaco landed him a penalty, but dor what happened in Silverstone was fine.

      Which is also why it was so silly that people pretended that the team should have gotten the penalty for Monaco when it clearly was max pushing too far.

  11. Stewards did go soft on overglorified world champion driving a limping donkey who rearsided other car.

  12. Im nor a Ver or Lec fan, but what I am frustrated about is the blatantly obvious inconsistency in making decisions. How someone who is pushed out off the racing surface (way outside the white line) legally, can stay on the gas, get back on the track and overtake the position back. How is this not “gaining an advantage”? In other races they enforce this, but here, no. Interesting

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