Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo, Singapore, 2019

Giovinazzi penalised for driving too close to crane

2019 Singapore Grand Prix

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Antonio Giovinazzi has been given a 10-second time penalty for driving too close to a crane during a Safety Car period.

The decision does not affect his 10th place finishing position as he finished 16 seconds ahead of Romain Grosjean.

“The race director had instructed all cars to stay to the right at the incident at Turn 8, because of the crane and marshals working the crash at that location,” noted the stewards. “There was a double waved yellow before the incident.

“While the stewards accepted the explanation of the driver that he felt he was going sufficiently slowly, and while he was driving to his SC delta time, he did however end up driving closer to the crane and marshals than was felt safe by either the marshals on location or the race director. The stewards concur. The driver had been told of the location of the incident and to stay right, but may not have considered that the crane was moving.

“The stewards consider this to be a potentially seriously dangerous situation and a risk to the marshals, and order a ten second penalty.”

The stewards also cleared Giovinazzi’s team mate Kimi Raikkonen and Daniil Kvyat over the collision between the pair at turn one.

“Kvyat explained that he saw that Raikkonen was slowing and harvesting [energy] into turn one,” they noted. “He moved to the inside and attempted to make the pass. He was on soft tyres.

“The stewards accepted his explanation that he felt he could make the corner. Raikkonen explained that he had seen Kvyat earlier, but had not expected him to be so far into the corner when he turned in.”

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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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20 comments on “Giovinazzi penalised for driving too close to crane”

  1. “The stewards consider this to be a potentially seriously dangerous situation and a risk to the marshals, and order a ten second penalty.” And what about penalty points for Antonio?

  2. I’m all for driver/marshall safety. But this penalty is ridiculous in my view. A reprimand was sufficient as this is not written in the rulebook.

    1. I assume that somewhere in the rulebook there’s a rule that’s basically ‘do what the race director says’, which would’ve been what was applied to this situation.

  3. Jose Lopes da Silva
    22nd September 2019, 17:47

    We were missing the Torpedo.

    1. @kiethcollantine, please give us an edit button; or preferably in this case a delete button.

  4. Suffering Williams Fan
    22nd September 2019, 18:14

    I haven’t seen the incident in question, but the description is “potentially seriously dangerous situation and a risk to the marshals”… Maybe it’s just me, but shouldn’t putting marshals at risk during a Safety Car carry a much more serious penalty than 10 seconds added to your time?

  5. I’m just glad it didn’t end up costing him that points finish. It was nice to see an underdog lead the race for so many laps, so that point feels like a fitting reward.

    As for the reason of the penalty, I’m going to reserve my judgement until I’ve seen the onboard shots. The wording is a bit odd, but we’ll see.

      1. Thanks.
        I’m just happy this penalty was merely a symbolic one … Yes, it didn’t look too pretty, but I struggle to blame Giovinazzi for it. He didn’t seem to do anything unreasonable and adhered to the Safety Car time delta, but that crane just happened to be in a pretty risky, unsighted place. He proceeded to swerve around it, with a safety margin of a couple of metres. He didn’t drive all the way to the right, but that would’ve merely been a cosmetic correction.
        It looks as though he was punished by the Stewards because they had the gut feeling that something wasn’t quite as it should be, and they chose to penalise the driver for it. But was it really his fault? Or was the way the crane was deployed inherently dangerous? Could Race Control have done more to protect their safety personnel? I’m inclined to say so. They relied on the teams telling their drivers where the real danger was, but on the track, there was absolutely no visual cue. Next time they deploy a crane while there are still cars on the track (I thought that was a big no-no ever since Suzuka ’14 …), they should send a few marshals with flags onto the track. This situation could’ve easily been avoided if there had been someone warning the drivers on the approach to the right-hander.

        Long story short: This smacks of misattributed blame, so I’m relieved this decision didn’t have any impact on the race result.

        1. Double-waved yellows mean “be prepared to stop.” The level of acceleration he exhibits there does not indicate he’s ready to stop if the marshal is standing 3 feet to the right. It’s a blind corner – he has to be more careful.

          1. @tsmv
            You’re basing your assessment on the gif, aren’t you? Not a reproach, but an honest question.

      2. Thanks for the link @bleu. It does seem dangerous for Giovinazzi for swerving to the right after getting a bit too close to the crane. He did a brilliant job of avoiding the crane, but he should be stayed to the right as was instructed. But I also accept that having a crane on such a narrow track when race cars are travelling (albeit at reduced pace) is a recipe for grave disaster.

      3. @bleu Thanks for the link. Based on that I think the penalty is deserved.

  6. At First I thought this was a bit of a silly call but having seen the feed that is way too close and in fact drivers should be doing a fraction of the speed in that area given the risk. I actually feel that strongly that it could and possibly should have been a red flag bringing the crane on at that area.

  7. Michael Massey needs to reprimanded as well then. Twice during the race cars were stopped on the track when it was obvious a safety car would be needed and he waited until the driver got out of the car to call for one. George Russell was standing on his seat and climbed out of his car and it was only a local yellow around turn 8. He was off the track before he deployed the SC. Then Sergio Perez got out of his car and walked down the track before the SC was called. I thought we learned from Jules’ crash and that was why the VSC was implemented. Severe lack of judgement by the race director in my books.

    1. Masi is not a good race director, watching all 3 drivers(Kimi, Russell and Perez) in firing line without safety car being called was another accident waiting to happen.

  8. Stupid torpedo, still misjudging speed and distance.

    1. Looking from his onboard, it was legit overtake. Kimi just didn’t expect it

  9. This is an awkward one.

    F1 Sporting Regulations, Article 39.5: “No car may be driven unnecessarily slowly, erratically or in a manner which could be deemed potentially dangerous…”

    This cuts both ways. Yes, it bars anyone from going too close to the crane, but it also stops drivers from going slower than conditions warrant. Which requires knowledge of what the conditions warrant. Also note that lapping too far over the Safety Car delta time counts as a breach of the regulation under the “too slowly” category.

    F1 Sporting Regulations, Article 39.11, “Under certain circumstances the clerk of the course may ask the cars and the safety car to use the pit lane…”.

    This indicates that only instructions from the clerk of the course that are in the regulations have to be obeyed, otherwise it would either specify nothing, or there would be a clause for any regulatory-compatible instruction the clerk of the course can imagine. Neither is the case, which may surprise @hugh11, and certainly surprised me. As such, the clerk of the course’s instruction to stay right has no regulatory standing and is purely advisory.

    Now, there is good reason for the advice here: Safety Cars result in an automatic full-course double-waved-yellow flag because drivers aren’t supposed to second-guess where the danger(s) is/are going to be. Given there was especial danger at one corner, the clerk of the course was wise to bring drivers’ attention to it, and what, in their view, was the best way to mitigate that.

    However, the driver is not permitted to depend on this. Quite reasonable, given that the clerk of the course may not have camera view on that corner and the danger may have moved, potentially even requiring drivers to do the opposite of what the clerk of the course told them to do in order to maintain safety. This being F1, there’s surely a plan to give the clerk of the course every useful angle on the situation, but the driver is not entitled to assume the plan worked, nor that the clerk will be in position to give live updates on what they are seeing, let alone that there will also be 100% effective and timely communication of the whole of that message from the radio engineer (since in F1, the clerk of the course cannot override team radios, despite the FIA supplying the common system).

    Antonio was unwise to ignore the advice, if it was relayed to him. However, ignoring the advice cannot in itself be used to justify the penalty. That would require either a separate charge to be laid against him, or for evidence Antonio was aware of why the advice needed to be followed and to what extent. “Bear right” can be and is interpreted relatively under certain circumstances – for example, if Antonio considered the possibility marshals might be working both sides of the track to clear debris (or simply that some marshals might have retreated there for safety – we know from the Monaco marshal incident that they sometimes divide between both sides when (attempting to) let cars past), then he might have avoided going sharp right for that specific reason. He wasn’t to know that on this occasion the clerk of the course knew that wasn’t an issue and really did need the instruction to be obeyed absolutely.

    A better way of handling this would have been at least one of:
    – Slow the Safety Car down, with deltas slow enough to avoid having the cars pass.

    – If that would have been too slow, use the red flag. It exists for a reason.

    – Foresee this situation and have all necessary calls of the clerk of the course accounted for appropriately in the regulations before the weekend begins. (Though even here, discretion needs to be left for if the situation changes between the clerk’s report and the driver’s arrival at the scene).

    I get that slowing the Safety Car would have brought problems of its own. That a red flag would have stopped the flow of proceedings. That yet another regulation in a groaning book would have been unpopular. But there’s a reason for all this. What we saw on Sunday was the same sort of sloppy trackside management that nearly led to disaster in Brazil 2003 and Europe 2007, and was a key contributer to Jules Bianchi’s death in Suzuka 2014.

    Drivers won’t always do what we as observers want them to do, and fate is not always kind with second chances. This is why it’s important to take driver discipline seriously, and why I’d have been in favour of a 30-second penalty or even a disqualification had there been no mitigating factors for Antonio’s positioning (I’ll spare everyone the GIF, but he was close to hitting people involved in the clearing operation). This is also why it’s so important the regulations give them a first chance. The regulations still do not do so, and F1 had a lucky escape here. However, the cavalier and anti-learning approach the safety regulator has used here makes me feel shaky, because luck is not dependable.

    TLDR: The FIA mismanged the scene and should not have been surprised at having to deal with this incident. Sticking a crane on the exit of a blind corner is, by definition, unsafe. Antonio was unfortunate in his stewarding panel and the only penalty that was demonstrably warranted was to race direction. (I say this as someone who would have been in favour of throwing the book at Antonio had the scene not been mismanaged so comprehensively). The manner in which the stewards have treated this incident means a repeat – from drivers and race control alike – is likely, and not with such simple consequences.

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