F1 risks ‘diving footballers’ problem with penalty calls – Horner

2021 Austrian Grand Prix

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is concerned by the precedent set by the penalties given to Sergio Perez and Lando Norris in yesterday’s Austrian Grand Prix.

The pair were given five-second time penalties for incidents in which rivals went off while trying to overtake them on the outside of corners.

FIA Formula 1 race director Michael Masi insisted that in all cases the drivers trying to overtake had earned the right to be left room by the car ahead. Horner disagrees, and said if the bar is set too low for the attacking driver, it may lead to more drivers pleading for penalties by running wide at corners.

The Red Bull team principal likened the potential situation to football players pretending they had been fouled by a rival in order to win a penalty kick.

“You don’t want the equivalent of footballers taking a dive,” said Horner. “I think we need to avoid that.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Red Bull Ring, 2021
Gallery: 2021 Austrian Grand Prix in pictures
“It’s incredibly difficult – because we talk about these things very often – and difficult for the race director. But I did feel that maybe today the incidents that we did see could have been leant to more ‘racing incidents’ than being deserving of penalties.”

Masi confirmed both Red Bull “immediately” asked for the stewards to investigate the incident between Norris and Perez, and Ferrari did the same for the two incidents involving Leclerc.

Norris was given his penalty after Perez went off at turn four. Perez was later penalised for two similar moves on Charles Leclerc. Horner said Perez recovered well from the setbacks.

“I think he knew that it was going to be very hard to pass Lando because they were so quick on the straights. So he was trying to get the move done quickly. And obviously it was a shame at that point to lose your buffer with Mercedes.

“Then he picked up another couple of penalties with Charles. But I think once he managed to get himself past Daniel [Ricciardo] and into clear air, then he drove incredibly well and got his head down and built that 10 seconds by the end of the race to Daniel.”

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2021 Austrian Grand Prix

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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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53 comments on “F1 risks ‘diving footballers’ problem with penalty calls – Horner”

  1. Well Christian, I guess it had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that, without those penalties, your team would’ve gained 5 more points on Mercedes (+2 for Perez and -3 for Bottas) ;)

    1. James Coulee
      5th July 2021, 10:50

      That’s the way they operate :) (Though, in fairness, seconds after the incident with Norris -and before a penalty was announced- Christian was saying at SkyF1 that he didn’t believe a penalty should be give to Norris as it was just a racing incident.)

      1. But if his team asked for an investigation at the same time, that does ring a bit hollow, right James Coulee?

        1. Who’s to say Horner did though? Could just as easily have been Mercedes or Ferrari to report the incident who both did gain from the Norris penalty.

          Not sure about this, but I suspect Perez’s engineer could also have reported it without Horner’s approval? I’d be surprised if Horner needs to give his approval or would’ve rejected the report.

          In fact, I’d argue Norris would’ve been unlikely to get the penalty if it was Horner who reported it since McLaren can turn around and say even RB didn’t think it deserved a penalty.

          Reply moderated
      2. James Coulee,
        At that time a penalty to Norris – before Hamilton had his issue – meant that Hamilton will be second and gain more points in his championship battle with Max where every point counts as RBR & Mercedes have demonstrated this season by competing in every race for the fastest lap point.

      3. So, that’s not the way they operate…

  2. If driver blocks inside line, than he/she shouldn’t be also allowed to take racing line and push other driver off track.

    1. @denis Why on Earth not? Apart from the pushing off. But in yesterday’s examples it certainly appeared to me that Perez and then Leclerc were at best being optimistic in trying to go around the outside.

      Whoever’s ahead should be able to take the racing line, and whoever’s behind has to expect that. This is all part of racing against other drivers, not just against the clock.

      1. They can take racing line, but shouldn’t expect driver next to them will yield position and if driver on the inside pushes other driver off track will be punished for doing it.

    2. From what I remember.
      1. Perez got ahead of Norris mid corner, but Norris was faster out and got ahead as he ran him out to the outside.
      2. In both cases Leclerc was ahead at the exit when being run out wide.

      So, Perez and Red Bull cannot make any complaints, if they asked and got a penalty for Norris, they have to accept those given to Perez.
      In my opinion overtaking is hard enough, and the overtaking can should be given “the advantage” and allowed room around the outside when it is clear they can stay on track on their own, but they then must accept being penalized if they run off track under their own speed (to avoid crazy lunges). But this does need a decision on how far alongside is enough to be allowed that advantage. Ahead? overlapping wheels?
      Overall, I can’t see why the FIA cannot make a set of diagrams to show what is allowed or not.

    3. pastaman (@)
      6th July 2021, 14:36

      Uhhhh, what?

  3. They risk more references to football than this.

  4. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    5th July 2021, 11:03

    I’ve not liked this modern trend to push drivers off who are outside of you on a corner exit. It’s quickly become the normal thing to do over the last 5 years and I don’t like it. However it seems odd to me that this was punished all of a sudden when the general precedent over the last few years was to accept it and say ‘well the driver on inside had the corner.’

    As for the diving analogy, I doubt it, I think it will always be obvious as to whether a driver was forced off or elected to go wide.

    1. It won’t always be easy to tell if the driver was forced off or drove off. If the driver goes off, and the other gets penalised for it, drivers will always try to stick it around the outside even when they should back out. So they mightn’t deliberately be driving off the track. But, instead of backing out when they should, they will always go for the move because either they’ll manage to overtake the other driver, or that driver gets penalised and they’re effectively been overtaken if the other driver stays within 5s or more depending on the number of attempts.

      I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to see drivers penalised over nothing. Ideally, I’d prefer to see the likes of Perez and Leclerc (on his second attempt) know when they should back out like Alonso and Hamilton were and make overtakes cleanly like Alonso did. They simply didn’t have the talent to make it stick and ended up ruining they’re race over it. This doesn’t include the first attempt Leclerc made though, Perez literally made contact and forced Leclerc out after he was pretty much overtaken.

      Reply moderated
    2. @rdotquestionmark It’s not really a modern thing though as drivers trying around the outside been squeezed on the exit is something that’s happened for as long as i’ve been watching F1 since 1989 & i’ve seen example of it before then.

      I think the difference now is that in the past when the exit kerbing was higher & when the runoff’s were less forgiving a driver on the outside tended to back out of it earlier rather than trying to hand on & risking running wide.

      1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
        5th July 2021, 13:43

        @stefmeister Yes possibly. It’s always happened I agree, especially when people have their elbows out. I remember Montoya muscling past Schumacher into T1 in 2001 but it almost is the normal thing to do now like a right of passage. Aggression levels have definitely stepped up and it’s almost like a weakness to let someone round the outside. I agree though, I bet this is driven ultimately by the fact the tracks generally now allow it.

    3. @rdotquestionmark Yes my issue with the penalties is that having allowed this kind of manoeuvre dozens of times over the past few years, and accepting that ‘hanging your opponent out to dry’ on the outside is a perfectly legitimate racing move, in this particular race the stewards suddenly decided to start penalising it. It’s not fair for the drivers to have to guess what kind of mood the stewards are in, or have to factor in which stewards happen to be presiding over the race. If this is the precedent going forward then fair enough – drivers now have to leave room on the outside even if it means staying off the racing line – but then that needs to be communicated to the drivers, teams and fans ahead of time to ensure fairness and avoid controversy.

      1. Additionally, I find it kind of absurd how there are different rules for the first lap than for every other lap of the race. More often than not the drivers are well aware of where their direct competitors are – for example Verstappen on Hamilton in Imola this year. Verstappen knew exactly what he was doing and would have done the same regardless of whether it was lap 1 or lap 40. Why does it matter which lap they are on? I can understand the stewards exercising their judgement in situations which are more chaotic where there might be multiple cars in close proximity, but having straight up different rules for lap 1 is unnecessary and contradictory. Just make a rule and apply it consistently across all laps and all races over the entire season, then make judgement calls where there are extraneous circumstances.

        1. Jockey Ewing
          5th July 2021, 20:08

          Yes, the rule should make a distinction betewwn usual and crowded situations. Although imo this 1st lap rule is applied or should be applied at restarts and chaotic, very crowded situatiouns.
          When I watched WTCR at Hungaroring, probably 2 or 3 years ago, there was a great downpour, similar to the previous year’s quali at Austria with heavy rain. While the pack were really together there were moments, when maybe almost half of the cars on the picture were racing each other in the runoffs. Initially I thought something like “boo, phew”, but obviously safety, and health and saving the machinery is more important, and this makes more lenient rule interpretations in similar situations ok for me. I don’t know whether F1’s rule about extraordinary situations is more lenient by letter, or only distinguishes first laps, but imo then they would need better wording, and likely the stewards interpret it appropriately when it is about bigger packs, and 2 or 3-wides.

          Yeah, and judging these outside efforts, and potential driving off of others, could improve. Likely by improving the data analysis of historical situations. Or by using GPS data and creating the ability to render and review the situations by the stewards from any selectable point of view. Likely the second is much easier, while the getting out the most of the first option harder to do and nice future task for AI supported decisions.

    4. @rdotquestionmark Completely agreed. If a driver can be trusted, and indeed be required, to leave space under braking – why can that not also be the case on the exit? Nobody is saying the drivers need to give all the room in the world; a driver can still push an opponent to the edge on entry and exit, severely compromising the opponent’s line and making it all but impossible for the defending driver to lose the position. He just can’t run his opponent off the road. Neither before, nor after the corner.

      Some situations will be marginal. Did Hamilton force Verstappen off in Portugal? Not as such, as Verstappen gave up the move. But the intent was clear; Hamilton was going to run his car right to the edge of the track. Same with Verstappen in Imola, where he did run Hamilton off. Neither drew any attention from the stewards. In some way, it’s a bit ironic that this is the venue where these penalties are suddenly applied, because it was also in Austria that Verstappen infamously ran Leclerc off after failing to pass him in a proper fashion. It was very obvious that he did so deliberately.

      1. The difference was leclerc being only halfway Verstappen’s car. He already passed lec and retook the racing line. Lec should have lifted but steered intentional towards Verstappen’s car.
        Lecs action to keep Lewis behind in imola was even worse.

    5. I think the difference is that the FIA came up with a rule stating that the defending driver must leave at least one car width. If I’m the attacking driver, that says to me that the other driver can’t squeeze me off the track and must leave me space even if it’s to their own detriment. After this weekend, I think some clarification is required so all drivers know what is and isn’t allowed in every scenario.

    6. I agree with you @rdotquestionmark. And I was really disappointed to see Verstappen not being penalized when he basically bumped Leclerc off track to take the win two years ago.
      These drivers are supposed to be the best in the world. If they need to bump others to make a pass, so can I and for a fraction of the price.

    7. pastaman (@)
      6th July 2021, 14:38

      This has been happening since the inception of motor racing

  5. He has a good point.

  6. I’m glad for once the penalties was given to every incidences but Horner was right. Once popular driver exploiting it, we will having non stop moaning in the radio.

  7. Of course it wouldn’t turn into ‘football diving’ because you can always see what the inside car is doing. It’s predominantly about their actions, not those of the car on the outside.
    A car driving off the track like this won’t generate a penalty all by itself, they need to have been left no room to stay on the track. That’s what the penalty is about.

    This scenario in F1 has bugged me for ages has has gotten a lot worse in recent years. It happens at this track every year, particularly at Turns 3 and 4 – less so at other circuits.
    I’m glad they clamped down on it here and truly hope they keep it up consistently in the future.
    I definitely have my doubts that the FIA can do anything consistently in F1, though.

    F1 is so much better when the rules are enforced and clear boundaries exist for driving and racing. Avoiding handing out penalties doesn’t make F1 better – but drivers meeting the challenge of competing fairly within the rules does make it better.

    1. Where do you draw the line though? A driver could just chuck it around the outside of an unsuspecting opponent get their nose alongside, then inevitably be “run off” the track and then claim a penalty.

      How far alongside is needed before room must be left?

      If the attacking driver on the outside doesn’t run off the track causing a collision, who’s penalty is it?

  8. The car running on the inside and ahead is allowed to take the racing line. You do not compromise your corner speed and have to take a tighter line just so that you can give the driver behind you a chance to overtake! What sensible racing driver would even think that way! You go balls out for the best line and corner speed, if that means you are not leaving any room for another driver around the outside that is unlucky for a driver trying to overtake around the outside, more fool him.

    1. @petegeo But that’s not the topic. The issue is if it’s acceptable to push someone off the track that’s alongside just because you want the racing line and he’s on it.

      1. The Norris incident. He didn’t push anybody off.
        As was the first incident with Perez and Leclerc. The second incident was a little more ambiguous as I think Perez could have left room and deserved the penalty. However. That said, if you are racing another driver on a straight and you do not leave him enough room and effectively push him off track that deserves a penalty. If a driver is ahead on the outside of the corner they should not be pushed off of the track.

      2. @balue at no point in the Norris/Perez incident was Perez ever on the racing line, nor in front enough to claim it. Why should Norris have to back off just because Perez was making a high risk manoevre? Likewise with the Perez/Leclerc first incident. Therefore, no penalty was justified, but having given one against Norris, the stewards had no choice but to give the same to Perez.
        The second incident between Perez and Leclerc was more clearly Perez not leaving Leclerc enough room.

        1. @nvherman The ‘racing line’ and ‘high risk manoeuvre’ you talk about doesn’t come into it. Not even ‘in front’. In an overtaking situation you have to leave room to the competitor. End of. I don’t understand how this is even an issue.

          1. Because what Perez tried to do was drive into a disappearing wedge of tarmac. He was barely even fully alongside Norris going into that turn, and entering at that angle was always going to result in Norris taking the park he took, as that is the racing line.
            Do you expect him to give up the position the moment Perez was alongside? That’s not racing.
            FWIW, Leclerc was equally optimistic trying to do the same thing to Perez later on, and with the same outcome

        2. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
          5th July 2021, 20:51

          @nvherman
          Obviously Perez was on the racing line, otherwise Norris wouldn’t have pushed Perez off as they fought for the same tarmac! This is not a particularly complicated matter. If a car if “fully” along side, BOTH should give each other “racing” room. Pushing/squeezing opponents off the track is a lazy and easy way to “defend” and does not promote fair play. I’m glad all drivers that pushed their fellow competitors off the track got time penalties (though the penalty points was ridiculous). I never cared for this style of driving being allowed.

      3. @balue That’s not really an issue, as such. It’s clearly outlined in the FIA Sporting Code that this behaviour is not allowed and will be reported to the Stewards at all times (and in F1 the stewards can investigate this by themselves if they so please). The rules state: “deliberate crowding of a car beyond the edge of the track (..) [is] strictly prohibited.”

        The term ‘racing line’ only appears once in said rules on driver conduct, and it has to do with defending under braking. A defending driver doesn’t have the right to drive wherever he wants, neither on entering nor exiting a corner. It’s good that the F1 stewards are finally doing something about this poor level or racing.

  9. In my simracing days, it was understood by all to leave space to a car alongside (defined as more than half the car), and even if some would do a dive to claim this right, it wouldn’t hold up in any dispute. It had to be ‘consistently’ alongside.

  10. I agree with Horner; the penalties handed out were pretty ridiculous.

    Missing from a lot of the discussion is that the driver on the inside is more or less committed to where they are going to be at corner exit pretty early; they have very limited options to “back out of it” and not take the racing line before they get there. It’s not as simple as just telling drivers to “leave space” on the outside.

    I think there should be an expectation that in order to claim the outside line when overtaking, the passing driver has to be ahead by the end of the braking zone. Otherwise you’re requiring the driver being passed to make a decision to yield the place while they’re still in front to avoid the inevitability of a penalty. That just doesn’t seem right.

    1. This is the exact point. You can’t easily change lines mid corner once fully committed and you can’t let the other driver by while still ahead. We have seen similar incidents these past few races and nothing came of it.

  11. The solution for any driver about to be overtaken round a corner is to surrender the inside line and drive hard round the outside to you will be forced then wait for the penalty for the other driver

  12. I don’t understand, horner was ok with it being a racing incident, why immediately reporting? The norris penalty was probably the most ridiculous, the irony is that it damaged red bull too in the championship, seems like a silly move to report it, other than crybaby, and I saw this as one who likes red bull and everything associated to it for bringing the fight to merc.

    1. Horner did not report it. The stewards looked into it because a car left the track whilst trying to overtake.

  13. Back in the day drivers would not dare to overtake from the outside, initially because it was risky and in the modrn era because it does not end up well. Now drivers expect a red carpet reception.

  14. What if there was a wall on the outside inatead of gravel? Would perez have just continued on as the gap closed due to norris following the ravlcing line?

    1. Think you’re confusing the entry racing line and the exit racing line here. Perez had the racing line alongside Norris going into the corner so Lando can’t simply claim it on exit without it being a foul. Hence the penalty.

  15. Ki Chi (@kichi-leung)
    6th July 2021, 7:44

    It’s better in football, at least there the VAR doesn’t take 20 minutes.

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