Romain Grosjean, Haas, Hungaroring, 2020

Haas drivers penalised for breaking ‘driver aids’ rule with formation lap radio messages

2020 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Haas drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean have been penalised after the team was found to have broken rules banning the use of “driver aids” during the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The stewards ruled the team violated a technical directive by issuing instructions to both drivers to pit for slick tyres on the formation lap prior to the start of the race. Teams are forbidden from issuing instructions to their drivers during the formation lap.

“Having considered the matter extensively, the stewards determined that the team instructed the driver to pit,” they ruled. “The team could not prove that one of the exemptions made under paragraph A. 2. a) to g) of the Technical Directive 011-17 was applicable.

“Therefore, the stewards consider there is breach of Art. 27.1 of the Sporting Regulations, that the driver must drive the car alone and unaided.”

Both have had 10 seconds added to their race time. Magnussen therefore drops from ninth place to 10th in the classification, which promotes Carlos Sainz Jnr to ninth place. Grosjean falls from 15th place to 16th, falling behind Kimi Raikkonen.

Haas drivers’ formation lap radio messages

While Magnussen swapped several messages with his race engineer about pitting, Grosjean was only told to pit at the last moment:

Magnussen: Ah, we’ve done the wrong thing. It’s already a dry line.
To Magnussen: Understood, Kevin, understood. What do you want to do?
To Magnussen: So we’ll do the start and then we’ll figure it out, Kevin.
Magnussen: Copy that.
To Magnussen: OK Kevin I think we’ll box now. Box now.
Magnussen: Yeah I agree. Box now, box now.
Magnussen: For dry, yeah? For dry?
Magnussen: Box now for dry.
To Magnussen: Yeah we’re boxing for dry.
Magnussen: Box. Box for dry.
Grosjean: Track is drying a lot already.
Grosjean: I’m almost tempted to box and put slicks.
To Grosjean: Box, Romain, box.
To Grosjean: Box, Romain, box.

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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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71 comments on “Haas drivers penalised for breaking ‘driver aids’ rule with formation lap radio messages”

  1. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    19th July 2020, 19:14

    Given the coaching Norris was given only a race ago on what buttons to press and for how long I’m confused how that’s not driver coaching but telling a driver to pit for a strategy gamble is. Shame because Magnussen did fantastically to keep that Haas in the points when at the moment that car’s really got no business being there. Stewarding lately has been VERY confusing.

    1. Adam (@rocketpanda)
      19th July 2020, 19:18

      Also – maybe I’m being very stupid here but if they’ve been punished for telling their drivers to pit because the driver must drive the car ‘alone and unaided’, well… isn’t radioing them to box in the race the same exact thing? Is it different because of the formation lap? If so, why? Seems a ridiculous rule.

      1. @rocketpanda

        if they’ve been punished for telling their drivers to pit because the driver must drive the car ‘alone and unaided’, well… isn’t radioing them to box in the race the same exact thing? Is it different because of the formation lap? If so, why? Seems a ridiculous rule.

        Logically, yes. The ban on team-to-driver communications during the formation lap was put in place to stop them optimising their starts. It was left in place in 2016 after the ban on other kinds of radio messages during the race was lifted:

        Perhaps they should consider rewriting the rule because, as you say, there’s an obvious inconsistency here.

        1. Adam (@rocketpanda)
          19th July 2020, 19:51

          @keithcollantine Thanks for the clarification! It’s certainly a rule that could do with looking at as it doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense given what we see in the races.

        2. What about Kvyat?

          The team told him *not* to box during the formation lap– isn’t that also an instruction?

          1. Lol exactly. Bit of a daft penalty.

        3. @keithcollantine I do feel this is an overzealous interpretation of the rules, particularly since the drivers were being involved in the discussions about whether or not to pit for the tyres.

          The intention of the rules was over start optimisation – I’m fairly sure that the intention was not to penalise strategy gambles such as those that Haas made. If anything, you would have thought that Liberty Media would have wanted such gambles to be possible if they want to “spice up the show” – you can’t help but feel that it’s going to fuel the cynical perception that the sport is too biased in favour of the larger teams and penalises the smaller ones more aggressively, particularly given the debate over how Bottas and Albon were treated in this race.

        4. It’s too bad the drivers didn’t just tell the team they were pitting for slicks; seems that would have been okay.

        5. ColdFly (@)
          20th July 2020, 17:46

          I understand that the rule “was left in place in 2016 after the ban on other kinds of radio messages during the race was lifted”.
          But does this mean that the smart stewards of today would’ve penalised every single pit call before 2016?

    2. I agree its a silly rule but Norris comparison isn’t valid as this is all about it being on the formation lap

    3. what a shame. at least they can keep a point. this rule is clear but the logic behind it is not. the teams instruct drivers all the time and seemingly make calls for them, and to a certain extent drive the cars for them, all of the things they wanted banned, in the end the driver executes the orders, you can even argue Romain decided to pit. Must admit clear penalty, can’t stand the discrimination though as other teams did break rules but suffered no consequences.

  2. This feels bad. Drivers get told to pit all the time, the stewarding has been quite here and there recently!

    1. F1oSaurus (@)
      19th July 2020, 20:48

      @bascb Pitting on a formation lap?

      1. Not as often, but it’s happened often enough, especially when it is wet

  3. What? Teams can’t tell drivers to pit? They all do, no driver ever spontaneously pit. This needs to be clarified, because I don’t see how this is different to drivers getting instructions on engine modes etc.

  4. Great. Instruct drivers to pit is consider a breach of the Sporting Regulations.

  5. I’m confused. If this pit call was an aid, then Bottas was aided too when gamble for the last pit stop.

  6. Alright, how is this an example of “aiding the driver” and the discussion between Hamilton and his team about the soft compound near the end of the race not “aiding the driver”? Not calling anything out on Hamilton but based on the wording/reasoning here shouldn’t there be a penalty for Hamilton as well?

    1. Because the end of the race isn’t the formation lap! Its all about coaching for the start

      1. This isn’t coaching though, it’s literally in instruction to pit.

      2. @adamf184 yes you are right but @treize131 is also right, the fia turns the blind eye all the time, when someone complains they take a stance. This is the discrimination f1 needs to talk about.

  7. Kyle (@hammerheadgb)
    19th July 2020, 19:23

    OK, so what about Kvyat? He was inclined to pit but ended up not doing so – presumably the team instructed him not to pit. Does that instruction not then constitute a breach?

    1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
      19th July 2020, 22:00

      Good point

      1. The team did not reply at all

  8. Okay, guys read the article and what the stewards said. It’s not because they were told to pit, it’s because they were told to do so which is forbidden by the rules to prevent coaching for starts. This has been a rule since around 2016.

    1. Okay, apparently the Bold tag just removes the words you want bolded.

      What I said was that they were told to pit ON THE FORMATION LAP, which is what is against the rules

    2. That rule still makes no sense @nikkit. F1 should encourage teams to make strategic gambles.

      1. Maybe it doesn’t make sense now we’ve had a situation arise that the rule was established for.

        Namely, to stop coaching for the start, where the pitwall for feeding the drivers numerous instructions for all the settings for the start. This lead to a bit of a shake up in starts as drivers were having to get everything conigured correctly for the start and some struggled in this area in the first half of that 2016, Hamilton amongst them.

        So, the rule was was established. The pitwall can’t give instructions to the driver during the formation lap prior to the actual race start unless it’s for safety reasons. ie: Car on fire, potential brake failure. Or to retire the car if some really bad problem has arrisen during the formation.

        Maybe it could have been applied differently in making the decision here, but thats the beauty of hindsight.

  9. Can they not tell a driver to pit on the formation lap????
    How would that be different from the race?

  10. I’m guessing it something to do with the formation lap; so not under race conditions. I’m sure another driver came in with a ‘Can I’ message and the response was ‘yes you can’. So not an instruction from the team.

  11. I don’t get how Norris being told exactly how to use his energy in Austria is okay but this isnt?

  12. I thought that was a brilliant call. Haas drivers were given instructions to pit, there was no instruction mentioned that interfered with the driving the car (PU settings, maps, gearbox…). They drove a brilliant race with regard to their car capabilities. Why they were not shown the black & white flag instead :)

    1. Haas drivers were given instructions to pit,

      .. and there is your BANNED instructions. Check the last couple of paragraphs here

  13. I find this is a moment of madness from stewards. It’s nothing new, though. Stewards also said that they were wrong not giving a penalty to Stroll for passing Ricciardo in the last GP. I don’t like this at all.

    1. @bulgarian That is because Max won in Austria in exactly the same way, the fia does not want a canada 2019 scenario all over again, lewis won a race in monaco with a worse cut than vettel’s. then Masi pledged consistency, and announced a series of new measures.

  14. Terrible judgment shown by F1 powers in my opinion. How is calling a driver into the pits unduly aiding them? You can see from the transcript that the decision was made jointly by the team as WELL as the driver. This is ludicrous.

  15. That is so interesting. This rule inadvertently makes tyre changes after the formation lap and before the race illegal. As if a driver would go into the pits without confirming. Really silly. They need to ammend this.

    1. @carbon_fibre great find. bad ideas fall apart, so many loopholes, oversights, in the rulebook. too many rules. this would not be a problem if radio was banned or just open, everything in the middle is grey and exploitable.

  16. Sigh… time to rewrite another rule. Surely a strategy call can’t be called a “driving aid”, they shouldn’t get a penalty for judging the weather…

    I guess for Haas it was still worth it, because I’m sure they’d not have finished in the top 10 had they not pitted before the start.

    1. Surely this penalty has no basis due to the fact that a call for a pit stop is part of strategy not a driving aid for goodness sake.

      Who even are the stewards most of the time? Seems like they’re a bunch or secretaries and accountants who only know black and white and dont have a clue about racing

  17. DAllein (@)
    19th July 2020, 20:39


    Another “glorious” example of stupidity in F1. Calling to pits on formation lap is a violation… even if the car is on fire, if it is being chased by Godzilla, if the car lost a wing – no, no, calling to pits is strictly prohibited

  18. Well if I was Haas I would appeal…..The rule was brought in to stop drivers gaining an advantage and the two drivers starting from the pit lane after the field had passed was clearly not a advantage. And if it had rained 10 minutes later, they would have been stuffed…
    A few inconsistent decisions today as well from the stewards

  19. Would have rephrasing it to “I am boxing for Mediums”, “Understood.” stopped them from getting penalised, hypothetically? As far as I can see, it’s the fact the team gave the instruction that is the issue, so if the driver said “I’m coming in” instead of the team they would have been able to escape a penalty.

    Still it’s a bit of a silly penalty and the rule really needs rewriting because it was brought in to avoid drivers being coached on engine settings at the start, not to needlessly restrict strategy calls.

    1. Especially with Grojean. It seems that a difference of idiom is the issue. If it was say brundle he would say, it’s time to pit isn’t it. And it would not be a question because that’s just how he talks.

      1. I agree, I think the Stewards were right out on a limb with Grosjean’s penalty. Again we’re left with the impression that Haas’ offence was being near the back of the starting grid and not near the front.

  20. This is a really dumb rule. Imagine if it started raining during the formation lap and everyone needed to pit for wets. Ah well afraid you can’t otherwise you’ll get a penalty, so you’ll all have to start on the wrong tyre and risk crashing out.

  21. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
    19th July 2020, 21:44

    Agh crazy one. Shame brilliant drive from KMag today with the assist from RoGro. Those points were hard earned

  22. I look at the law, I look at the transcript and I still don’t get it. The drivers took the initiative in both cases. the box box message is exactly the same as “understood”.

    Taking that as “driving aid” needs a big twist on the reading of the rules.
    Calling a driver to the box is not related to “driving”.

    1. DAllein (@)
      20th July 2020, 1:33

      Of course calling the driver to the box is related to driving!
      How else will the driver get there without driving? :D

      See? Bulletproof!

  23. Lyle Clarke
    19th July 2020, 22:50

    This and the drying off the grid spot for Albon are stupid things to give penalties for, I’m also confused as to why Kimi got a penalty point for being out of position, I always figured penalty points were for dangerous driving… Meanwhile Stroll can push himself and Ricciardo off the track, gain an advantage and escape a penalty. They’ve since said they wrong but the stewarding is just awful at the moment of you ask me.

  24. Masi need to start some heavy thinking – even (especially) if all of the calls in this year’s races are exactly compliant to the letter of the law, some judicious & reasonable interpretation needs to be applied. Change the mix in the stewards room, resist favouring the chosen ones, do something … it can’t go on like this.

  25. Harry (@harrydymond)
    19th July 2020, 23:06

    This has got to be the stupidest stewarding decision… ever? In what way were either of those conversations “driver coaching”? The decision to pit was clearly made jointly with the drivers, and even if it wasn’t, an instruction to pit is not driver coaching! At least it hasn’t dropped them out of the points completely. I hope Haas appeal this.

  26. We just need to be clear, this penalty was because it was the HAAS team and not Mercedes. The Merc’s could have jumped the start, given instrucions during the formation lap on strategy, and they could have even modified the toe angle of the car without punishment. The stewards and F1 clearly feel Mercedes are above the rules technically. It seems the only way they get into trouble is if they punt another driver and ruin their day.

  27. Corrado Mella
    20th July 2020, 1:10

    I miss Charlie.

    I bet he’s watching from up there and pulling his white hair out, so swearing profusely.

  28. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    20th July 2020, 2:46

    Don’t the drivers need the team to box? Should they have had to switch all tires themselves? It doesn’t sound like an instruction at all. More a discussion followed by the common “box, box, box” which is common communication.

    Strange call…

  29. I do not really understand AlphaTauri.
    Kvyat asked: “Can I box for slicks before the start? Confirm please.” The team then did not reply. To me that sounds like he definitely wanted to pit and just made sure, they were ready for him. Surely they could have replied that they were ready for him.

  30. Should Verstappen have been penalised when the team told him to drive his damaged car to the grid?

    1. Surely, according to the current rule! I must confess that this penalty is very likely the most farcial since I started following F1 ~25 years ago! Yes, it’s that bad!

    2. apparently thats OK @davidjwest because that happened *before* the formation lap.

      However, if the regulations are being viewed in this manner then Verstappen should have received a 30 second penalty for his formation lap actions at race 2 (like Perez and Hartley were some time ago.. see: ) as he clearly breached the first sentence of Regulation 36.8 during that formation lap (He passed Hamilton when Hamilton hadn’t been ‘delayed’) … which, in my opinion, would also be crazy.

      1. Interesting, I don’t agree with any penalties of this nature to be honest, but the race hadn’t started when the Haas guys “broke the rules” either.

        F1 doesn’t need silly rules and it certainly doesn’t need rules that are not enforced consistently.

        Teams and drivers should be allowed to discuss strategic decisions I think.

  31. Completely ridiculous penalty, for all the reasons that have been stated in comments before mine. A strategy call is quite plainly not a driver’s aid, be it during the formation lap or during the race.

    It’s always a shame when the race order changes after the race, but especially so for such an absurd technicality. I know the stewards can only go by the rulebook, rather than choose which rules to enforce, but they could surely have imposed a lesser penalty, such as a fine or a reprimand.

    Points will be very hard to come by for Haas this year, and to halve their hard-earned haul could prove to be a penalty of existential magnitude. I feel for everyone at Haas to have their efforts (and brilliant strategy calls) stamped upon like this.

  32. Is it possible to find info on who the stewrds are for each event? And the bios/job titles?

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      20th July 2020, 13:17

      I was wondering the exact same thing. There’s no accountability by the stewards whatsoever. Each vote should be public and the stewards’ names should be part of the F1 race on the website and announced before the race starts so that we know who’s making the calls.

      They just make the wildest calls – it’s almost as if they make the wrong call on purpose.

      1. American F1
        20th July 2020, 14:59

        I have long wondered why the job of race steward was a rotational thing and why the FIA could not simply employ a consistent cadre of official stewards, chosen from recent F1 drivers (Alonso, Button, Webber, Rosberg, etc) which would travel with the circus so you could at least have continuity about what was enforced and how. As it is now, it’s a crapshoot on which regs are enforced, how, and when.

        1. Absolutely, They need a pool of permanent stewards to rotate throughout the year. They use 7 per event, so a pool of 12 to rotate between each event would work better for consistency overall.

          And as mentioned in this thread having their votes and names public would help keep some accountability.

          In any case where decisions and penalties are being made, especially considering how the outcomes of those decisions have a massive effect on drivers and teams, there must be accountability.

          Police officers or judges dont partake their duties anonymously do they?

        2. Found this from a forum post:

          -There are seven officials
          -Five of the seven are nominated by FIA.
          These include:
          -the race director (currently Charlie Whiting)a permanent starter
          -three additional stewards
          -one is an experienced former driver
          -Two of the seven are nominated by the National Sporting Authority of the country hosting the race, both of which must be FIA Super License Holders
          -the clerk of the course
          -an additional steward who must be a national of the host nation

          It’s actually absurd that a sport as big as F1 seemingly has a total lack of accountability with the stewards

      2. Yeah, I tried looking for this gp but nothing I could find atleast.

        That’s a great point, I agree they should be made more accountable via their names and votes being made public.

        Otherwise as it is they make a vote knowing those things are private, where made public they would likely hold themselves personally more to account

        Even in drifting it’s always known who the judges are, what their decisions were and they often explain their decisions too, immediately. Especially if there has been contact or a crash between drivers where fault must be assigned

  33. Stupid penalty. I get why the rule was put in place; especially if you look at previous transcripts of formation lap comms between driver and pit wall. There used to be very specific and continuous instructions from pit wall to the driver concerning clutch bite point settings and engine mode settings and launch settings, etc. However, I really don’t think that an instruction to pit is anywhere near the same thing. Drivers get pit-in instructions all the time. If they didn’t you would see a lot more pit lane chaos as drivers suddenly decided to come in with no instruction, not to mention more on-track chaos as drivers pushed their tires beyond the breaking point in attempts to keep track position. It’s almost like the clowns at the FIA suddenly looked up and realized that you had commoners in with the gentry and had to punish the upstarts. “Not one but TWO Haas in the Top Five?!? Who let them in? This will not do! They must be taught not to rise above their station!”

  34. Absolutely horrifically stupid to assess a penalty for telling your driver to give up their spot on the grid, and have to start from pit lane…THAT is penalty enough…there is no reason to assess further penalty for pitting when you have put yourself at the end of the field.

  35. if this was a penalty then how are constant radio calls like “change engine mode to xx” or “we need a delta time of xx” or “temps on the fronts are a bit over the limit” not “driver coaching”? truly absurd. A team should provide the driver with all the info he needs on his wheel LCD. The car is sending all the data to the pits so the data is on the car to begin with. Any decent GUI designer can easily implement a way for a driver to access the info he needs.

  36. Feels unfair to call it as driver aid, when you’re asking them to just drive in somewhere like any other pit stop.

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