George Russell, Williams, Silverstone, 2021

Recent spate of penalties could discourage drivers from racing, warns Russell

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In the round-up: George Russell wants to understand why penalties have “ramped up” in recent races after falling foul of the stewards at Silverstone.

In brief

Russell wants to understand rise in penalties

Russell was given a three-place penalty for colliding with Carlos Sainz Jnr on the first lap of Saturday’s sprint qualifying race. “I thought it was a little bit hard,” he said.

“It was one of those first-lap incidents, really. A lot was going on. I had a little, small lock-up. There was nothing malicious there, I wasn’t trying to squeeze him or do anything. And I think if it was any other corner he’d have just carried, potentially even in front of me.

“We’re told that the consequence of an action is never taken into consideration. It felt like in this instance it was. But I respect the decision, at the end of the day they’re the rule makers so we’ve got to stand by their views.”

Several other penalties were handed down at Silverstone and many more in the previous race at the Red Bull Ring, including a trio of disputed sanctions for Lando Norris and Sergio Perez. Russell says drivers will be less inclined to fight each other if they fear being penalised.

“‘Rubbing’s racing’ as they say. I think it’s good for the fans and even for the drivers to have close, hard racing.

“When there’s so many penalties being dished out it does change the views of the drivers slightly of how you approach it. Nobody wants to just sit there and everybody be cautious because it won’t be entertaining for anyone.”

He feels the number of sanctions handed down by the stewards has “really ramped up” over the last two races. The Grand Prix Drivers Association director is eager to learn more about the reasons for the recent calls.

“None of us want to see penalties dished out week in, week out,” he said. “We need to understand their views on this. It’s always fine margins between whether it’s a penalty or not. Maybe it’s just a coincidence that these last two races there’s been more than normal.”

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Comment of the day

Formula 1 was anxious that its new sprint qualifying race didn’t overshadow the grand prix, but some think it did:

After qualifying I thought “this was a great qualifying session”, but then remembered, it doesn’t actually mean anything for the race.

Then the sprint race came, and the first few laps were very exciting, and when the race settled down I thought it was a nice little race, but again, a race without any meaning, because, no points (relevant ones, in any case).

When the actual race came on, it was all a bit deflated by then, and Grand Prix itself lost a bit of that special something.

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Keith Collantine
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47 comments on “Recent spate of penalties could discourage drivers from racing, warns Russell”

  1. “None of us want to see penalties dished out week in, week out”

    Well, Alonso does. I dont blame Russell for not keeping abreast of the news but when on the one hand you have drivers complaining about rules not being enforced and first lap incidents going unpunished, and on the other drivers saying their should be more first lap leniance. That puts the stewards between a rock and a hard place.

    As GPDA director maybe he needs to be speaking to the drivers so they can come up with a unified view to present rather than ask questions of those just trying to do their job under incredibly scrutinized pressure from all sides.

    1. Didn’t Masi mention that the drivers themselves asked to stop completely ignoring the first lap incidents and be mor consistent?

      1. yet Masi said this 2 races ago (Austria) re Alonso’s complaint

        “All Lap 1 incidents are treated in a more lenient manner and that has been the case for a number of years, under the ‘let them race’ principle, let’s call it. So that’s the general principle because particularly in circumstances like that, everyone has asked to look at things in a much [more lenient] way and then to help the drivers and the teams if they need to, and that was looked at at the time.”

    2. Stevan Vasiljević
      24th July 2021, 15:26

      I wonder why drivers make comments like: “I think there are too many penalties, they said they want to see us race.” The solution is simple: drive more cleanly, and there will be less penalties.

      1. Exactly this! I have no problem with penalties, if they are handed out in a consistent manner.

  2. “When the actual race came on, it was all a bit deflated by then, and Grand Prix itself lost a bit of that special something.”

    Agree to disagree on that one. It was exciting to see the start. Brundle and Brawn both said that Hamilton wasn’t winning that in a straight race and needed to go and look at what he needed to do to win it. And that’s what he did.

    Looking at the weekend as a whole, it was a success.

    The GP itself was unlikely to have been anywhere near as exciting, or generated the incredible engagement it did, without the sprint race to provide Hamilton with the information that it was worth risking that contact to avoid falling further behind in the championship.

    1. @skipgamer, I too feel the author of the COTD actually is mistaken.

    2. @skipgamer I’ll agree to disagree with you.

      In the sprint Hamilton blew his start and didn’t really get close enough to get alongside, albeit briefly, to Max whereas in the race he got off the line much better.

      However, I believe that if all the teams had the opportunity to use a “traditional” weekends 3 practice sessions to dial in their cars, all of them would have most likely had a little better control in the first laps and the risk of collision would probably have been reduced.

      There also would have been a greater likelihood of either of the two at the front yielding and setting up for a more strategic race, particularly, for example if Hamilton had blown the start like he did in the sprint.

      It’s just simply not possible to compare the two formats because there’s too many variables – to me the sprint and everything before it just ruined the weekend flow and in fact if anything probably contributed to what ended up being a fairly serious crash on lap 1.

      1. Well I think that the fact teams and drivers were less perfectly prepared for a strategic battle and less informed for the sprint race actually proved the change in the format does bring something new that helped make the weekend more interesting @dbradock.

        Hamilton having experienced what could happen if he let Max get away early meant that we got the on track fight everyone was looking forward to instead of seeing strategy play out which most if us would know by about halfway was not going to work because the red bull was just quicker and the gap too big

    3. I must have watched a different race, except for lap 1 and lap 50 NOTHING happened. it wasn’t the least bit exciting.

      Watching a second a lap quicker car be a second a lap quicker wasn’t the least bit exciting

  3. What we all want is just some consistency from the stewards. For instance Sainz/ Grosjean had a similar collision to Max/Lewis at Silverstone yet the penalties/judgements vastly differred. And this “let them race” mantra only gets wheeled out for some drivers, while other drivers get the book thrown at them. It feels that whether a driver gets a penalty or not often depends on what mood the stewards are in, or what they had for breakfast

    1. Or you know, maybe the data that we don’t have access to. Besides, they’re told they need to do more one day, then less the next, by 10 different people. They respond in kind, get lambasted by them all.

      I think Whiting was heading in the right direction. A transparent conference before the next race, with data points to back up why certain decisions were made. Without that transparency for sure it’s hard to see why, and it all seems a bit random.

      F1 should do a 10 minute or so explaining the stewards process behind the penalties given out, after a race, animated diagrams from the data, even 3d visualisation if they want to get fancy. It would go a long way I think, and it would get a lot of views.

      I guess the problem would be the backlash when they do make a genuine mistake. They are human after all.

      1. @skipgamer in this I agree.

        Stewards are human and can make mistakes. Drivers are too.

        One thing I’d like to see, and we don’t really see the data etc., is perhaps less penalising for genuine driver mistakes, and stronger penalties for what I’d term “careless” driving where a driver has made a move without consideration of consequence like blasting into a corner at a much higher speed than is possible to maintain any decent control of their car (think Grosjean back in the day etc)

        Overall though, I’m not really finding any real fault with the stewarding.

      2. The stewards don’t even need to make a mistake for a sharp backlash – just penalising a popular driver can do that.

    2. Russell is a good example, he nudged sainz and got a worse penalty than a 10 sec let alone a 5 sec. I don’t think they have figured out what penalties to give for qualifying races.

      1. I don’t think they have figured out what penalties to give for qualifying races.

        Same rules, same offence, same penalty.

    3. Just look at qualifying week in, week out – Mazepin deducted places for blocking in Spain, Bottas penalised for dangerous driving in austria, but none of the top drivers get penalised for the constant dangerous and embarrassing driving on the track in qualifying

  4. I agree with what others stating that we need more parity in steward penalty calls. Seems to be all over the place at times.

    Also have to wonder if FIA or F1 nudge stewards before a race on what to go heavy on and what not to push? I have no way of knowing but there does appear to be up and down penalty trends through a season but there’s new stewards for each race. If there was more parity in steward calls, it would help shut the door on teams calling unfair or biased penalties or lack of, or drivers deciding on the track while racing on what’s fair because recent calls have been all over the place and open to interpretation.

    Totally agree on not introducing more rules and penalties, they just need to clean up/define better the existing ones and disperse them in a much consistent way throughout a season or two so open interpretation by fans, drivers and teams is greatly reduced.

    1. If there was more parity in steward calls, it would help shut the door on teams calling unfair or biased penalties

      You’ll notice that what teams call ‘unfair and biased’ is more related to whom is penalised rather than lack of consistency in those penalties.

      1. Of course teams and fans will sometimes call out unfair or biased; that opinion or behavior will happen (it’s human behavior) but as others have said, there’s been inconsistencies in calling penalties in similar incidents or no penalty at all. This inconsistency opens the door more for fans, teams and drivers to call out biased or unfair calls.

        We need better and more consistent penalties from stewards throughout a season.

        If you look back at precedences (track record) in calling out penalties in a certain type of incident, it’s all over the place so when a team/driver gets penalized they can call out/scream favoritism or unfair because they look back other drivers that weren’t penalized for same moves. They need to eliminate the subjectiveness and have it less open to interpretation.

        Will have to admit it can be a razors edge to decide between a legal move and illegal move and two incidents are never identical.

  5. Masi’s in total control, isn’t he?

  6. I like George but he doesn’t quite live to expectations on Sunday when all the points (or the big points for some strange weekends) are actually scored. And now his complaint about the rules remember someone who can’t race unless doing it far from cleanly. He will completely stop being just a promise in Formula 1 only when he raises his game from Mr. Saturday only (or sometimes Mr. Friday on some weird schedules) to being a more complete driver over the whole GP and fix his race starts as well, even more urgent than refining his racecraft. Regardless of that he has plenty of talent, and is still the best bet for Mercedes if they’re smart enough, certainly a better choice than an ever weaker Bottas.

  7. I find it just a little difficult to fully understand the argument that the sprint (or anything else for that matter) detracts from the main race.

    The main race is unchanged. It exists in the same way that the original did. I am not arguing for or against the sprint here, but I would like to understand comments, such as that in the COTD. I obviously cannot dispute what the commenter felt. If he was deflated, then he was deflated, but nothing he said really explains why, nor how the actual race provided anything other than what it would have done without the sprint.

    I have the same debate with my wife quite often i.e. that by stating something is the case, doesn’t make it true

    1. @cairnsfella I felt the sprint devalued the GP to some extent as for me personally seeing a full race build-up/start on Saturday made me less hyped for the start of the GP as it was something i’d already seen the day before. The GP start felt a bit like a red flag restart which never feels as exciting as the initial race start as we’ve already seen one.

      I also felt it took away a bit from the GP in that it gave a clearer picture of car’s race performance & how difficult following/overtaking was going to be which again made me a bit less hyped for the GP.

      People were saying going into the weekend that the sprint was like the start of a race with a 24 hour red flag & restart & that is indeed for me how it felt & that just took away a lot of the usual excitement & anticipation I have going into Sunday.

      1. The sprint will be better on an interesting course. If Monaco put on the same race as Silverstone does every year, it would be labelled a procession.

        Oh, wait…

    2. @cairnsfella I too do not find the Sprint detracts from the race. Soft tires, low fuel, no pitting or pit strategies. I did not at all relate this to the start of the race with a 24 hour red flag in between.

      I am mindful that the original question was whether or not there is a more exciting way to qualify for the race. I’m also mindful that when they started asking this question it was almost always a Mercedes winning pole. Sure, now that LH finally has some competition from another team the flying lap quali is more exciting for those last few minutes of tension, and we still get that only on Friday. But now we get an occasional Sprint to add to the weekend’s excitement and to me a race start and it’s buildup as well as the Sprint itself is always far more enthralling than solo timed laps.

      Then we get the race as normal. Full fuel, different tires, pitting and pit strategies, and another enthralling buildup and race start. I’m not sure I want it every weekend and Brawn has implied it won’t be. Three this year and six next year when the cars are less affected in dirty air? Sign me up. Variety is the spice of life. I’m just grateful to have F1 at all, and to be able to go along for the ride.

      1. Actually, taking the cotd a little further, in fact qualifying on Friday did mean something related to Sunday’s race, for it was the usual opportunity for a driver to position himself as high up on the grid as possible, in this case for the Sprint, which in turn was to position themselves as high up on the grid for Sunday. So of course Friday mattered for Saturday and Sunday both. As well, the points for the Sprint, while small, can still be highly relevant as we know, if the Championship comes down to the last race. They seem to care about getting the fastest lap point in races, so why wouldn’t they care about these 3-2-1 points?

    3. In hindsight it may have been a little little blinkered of me to ‘fail to see’ reasons why others find the race devalued by the sprint. Not that these viewpoints have changed my own. And from some of the reasons given I would suggest that ‘not watching’ the sprint may go some way to redress the issues mentioned. Not just because it may provide the FIA with reason to change things in your favour, but also it will eliminate the reduction in impact from seeing the race performance and additional start before the main event.

      In all honesty, I can live without it. I thought it added a little something for me, but given that I do not feel I would ‘lose anything’ without it, perhaps I am not that clear on my own views after all.

  8. I dont agree with him. The inconsistency is too large to determine a tactic from. I think its done on purpose exactly for those reasons. Otherwise Lewis would bump one off every weekend.

    1. Otherwise Lewis would bump one off every weekend.

      That would be difficult the 7th weekend.

    2. What and risk damaging his own car and getting a dnf…how would that help Lewis…you’re one of those people who still think Lewis did it on purpose I see.and I suppose you think max purposely bumped Lance stroll on purpose too…exactly the same incident,and yet Horner defended max…complete hypocrite.

      1. No, not at all on purpose. Just a bit eager in the wrong place at the wrong time. Racing incident. Penalty fitting to a first lap offense. Just wish he would have owned up to it. It says a lot he didnt’t. He has some real pressure to deal with for the first time in years. And he hasnt had a lot of practice leading mostly from the front. At least not as much as the midfield bunch. So no biggy if he just owned up to it.

        1. Well why did Rusell get a 5 second penalty and 3 places back for the next race? Same kind of mistake, also went in to Hot and had a small hit on Saintz. Saintz was even able to contineu the race. The way the Stewards work with Massi is a disaster! Massi is not quallified to run this F1. And there lays the problem.

          1. I agree but I am starting to think their strategy is to not be consistent so drivers don’t start calculating and using it to their advantage or attempt to.

        2. Is this going to be part of your recent posting approach of putting a deliberately provocative post that is designed to stir trouble, and then pretending to partially roll back the comment to see what you can get away with?

          1. Mayrton Personally I trust that the stewards are trying to be as consistent as possible and don’t have a strategy, even if it might appear so at times such that drivers like GR bring concerns of consisitency up. I hope he gets more clarity, but I really think, as he says, “at the end of the day they’re the rule makers so we’ve got to stand by their views.” Disagree sure, ask for clarity sure, but let’s not have them strategizing and skewing things towards any one driver, and let’s appreciate that every incident and circumstance is different and has to be looked at as such.

  9. Re Leclerc tweet: Does anyone know since when Ferrari started doing demo runs at Silverstone with the Ferrari 375?
    Re Vandoorne: And also being in McLaren after 2018 wouldn’t be possible either.
    Re Fortnite: wait it’s still relevant?

  10. I do feel for Vandoorne, although he was resoundingly beaten by Alonso.

  11. Additionally, on this day in F1: The 2011 German GP at Nurburgring, won by Hamilton, a rarity that season.

    1. The same year Nikki Lauda said ‘Lewis would kill someone one day’
      Emerson Fittipaldi and Jackie Stewart added ‘he’s driving dangerously ‘
      Part of Lewis’s baron spell that only returned 1 WC in 7 seasons :(

      This season Lewis seemed well rattled before they even went to Austria. Shame the 2nd Red Bull wasn’t quicker. That would finish him off. He’s still got it very easy compared to his competition in the last 7 years. 0.02 difference between tge 2 leading teams on average in qualli.

  12. Russell’s comments are a bit odd. The way he drove in Austria was perfect; that was great racing and he and Alonso were widely applauded for their conduct. It also served as a good contrast to the clumsiness of Norris and Pérez. But the way Russell drove in England was not okay, and he was rightly penalized for it. When you’re racing open wheel formula cars ‘close, hard racing’ does not include bumping into others.

    1. @cashnotclass

      When you’re racing open wheel formula cars ‘close, hard racing’ does not include bumping into others.

      And yet one of the most fondly remembered bits of racing featured drivers lunging up in the inside of each other from miles back with brakes locked, Bumping into each other more than once & pushing each other off the track.

      That been Gilles Villeneuve & Rene Arnoux at Dijon in 1979.

      And Massa & Kubica at Japan 2007.

      And a driver considered by many one of the best of all time who was widely revered in his time was known for putting his car in a position that left it upto the driver he was racing to decide if they were going to collide or not. That been Ayrton Senna.

      But many newer fans prefer the nanny state of been told what to do where nobody is allowed to do anything different and where any bit of contact is penalised due to how over-regulated the sport has become.

      Up until the past 10-15 years all of the various incidents that resulted in penalties over the past races would have simply been seen as racing incidents with no further action necessary & that is the way things should still be. We didn’t need this silly over-regulation & constant silly penalties for every little thing in the past & we shouldn’t have to suffer these anti-racing over-regulation penalties now.

      #NoToNannyStateF1! #OutWithOverRegulation #RuleBookIsTooThick #TooManyRules #TrimTheRuleBook

      1. @roger-ayles If only all the drivers were as skilled as the examples you gave. Unfortunately, the clumsiness of lesser drivers is also dangerous, and needs reigning in by rules. Without rules, racing is not a sport. I see the problem as one of lack of consistency in applying rules, and the lack of respect between drivers on track. I am a big fan of Gilles and Arnoux, as well as Massa and Kubica, but Senna was a petulant child compared to those drivers. If you despair at the thickness of today’s rulebook, I would say much blame rests at the feet of drivers like Senna and Schumacher, because of the stunts they pulled trying to bend the rules to their favour.

      2. @roger-ayles For every one of those bumper car moments that some (or even a majority) consider a highlight of said races there are many more that play out less impressively. As @ferrox-glideh notes, Villeneuve might have been able to pull it off, but others – including world champions – have demonstrated (repeatedly) that they can’t. The FIA needs to step in to protect the other drivers from such competitors.

        Russell’s dramatic description of drivers stopping to race for position because of a few penalties is widely off the mark; simple time or grid penalties are some of the most lenient penalties the FIA can hand out. All the stewards are doing is making sure the races can be run fairly and safely. Nobody blames Russell for making mistakes in the first years of his career – but there’s also nothing wrong with making sure he is penalized for them when it impacts the races of other drivers.

      3. Still angry?

  13. General consensus on Race Fans:

    ‘Max should yield whilst leading in the fastest cornering car”

    1. I think drawing conclusions from such data will yield no such general consensus.

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