Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, Albert Park, 2022

Were stewards right to penalise Stroll’s weaving in Australian GP?

Penalty Box

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The stewards of the Australian Grand Prix handed Lance Stroll a five second time penalty after deeming him guilty of making more than one move to defend his position.

But were the stewards correct to penalise the Aston Martin driver for a seldom-sanctioned infringement of the rules of racing?

Incident

At the end of lap 37, Valtteri Bottas was in pursuit of Lance Stroll’s 12th position, with the pair both on hard tyres after pitting earlier in the race.

As the pair rounded the final corner to begin lap 38, Bottas tucked into the Aston Martin’s slipstream and activated DRS, while Stroll ahead also had DRS due to being within a second of Esteban Ocon’s 11th placed Alpine.

Stroll moved to the right to defend his position, then appeared to move back towards the racing line as Bottas pulled closer, before moving back to the right a second time before holding the inside line into turn one. Bottas appeared to lift off due to uncertainty over Aston Martin’s movements, before taking the outside line into turn one, still behind Stroll.

A lap later, Bottas passed Stroll on the run to turn one, just seconds before the Virtual Safety Car was deployed for Max Verstappen’s Red Bull coming to a stop in turn two.

How it happened

Bottas is in Stroll’s slipstream along the pit straight.

Stroll moves to the right to defend the inside line.

Stroll begins to move back left as Bottas looks to take the inside line.

Stroll appears to move to the right a second time before approaching the braking zone.

Bottas takes the outside line for turn one as Stroll stays inside, retaining his position.

What they said

In the cars

Valtteri Bottas made no comment of the incident over team radio. However, after eventually being passed by Stroll at the restart following the Virtual Safety Car and complaining about the Aston Martin driver’s move into turn three, Bottas was later informed that Stroll would receive a time penalty – although it was not specified that it was for the lap 38 weaving incident.

At the time of the incident, Stroll was on the radio with race engineer Ben Michell discussing his car’s handling. After reporting “it’s just cooking the fronts, man,” and being instructed “entry five” on the approach to turn 13, Stroll was on the radio as he was passing along the pit straight. “It’s not the frickin’ diff[erential],” he said, leaving the radio open until he had exited turn two.

Nearing the end of lap 44, while under pressure from Pierre Gasly, Stroll was warned about not changing his line while defending from the AlphaTauri. “Caution, Lance, no weaving when defending,” he was told.

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After the crash

After the race, Bottas commented on the incident. “The weaving just made it really hard to decide where to go,” Bottas said. “It was a bit on the limit, I guess.”

Stroll said that he did not understand why he had been given a penalty. “I was bit surprised to hear I got a penalty for that,” he said. “I don’t know why I got a penalty for that.”

The official verdict

The stewards reviewed video replays during the race and determined that Stroll had been guilty of breaching Article 2 B of Chapter IV, Appendix L of the FIA’s International Sporting Code, which decrees that “more than one change of direction to defend a position is not permitted.” The stewards decided that by making two moves to the right before the braking zone, Stroll was in breach of the regulation.

“On the main straight, car 18 (Stroll) was ahead of car 77 (Bottas),” the stewards explained. “Stroll moved right to defend against a potential overtake from Bottas. “Stroll returned to the racing line and then moved to the right for a second time to defend from another move by Bottas. The second move breaches the regulation which prohibits more than one change of direction to defend a position.”

The stewards gave Stroll a five second time penalty, which was applied at the end of the race as Stroll did not pit for the remainder of the race. One penalty point was also applied to Stroll’s super license, bringing his total to eight.

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Your verdict

Do you agree with the stewards’ decision? Should Stroll have been handed a harsher penalty, or none at all? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Do you agree with the stewards' decision to apply a five-second time penalty to Lance Stroll for weaving?

  • Strongly agree (55%)
  • Slightly agree (25%)
  • Neither agree nor disagree (4%)
  • Slightly disagree (8%)
  • Strongly disagree (3%)
  • No opinion (5%)

Total Voters: 137

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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  • 22 comments on “Were stewards right to penalise Stroll’s weaving in Australian GP?”

    1. I agree with the penalty – Stroll’s movements were clearly in breach of the rules as outlined above – but the issue, as ever, is consistency. Previous “weaving” incidents have seen drivers get a black and white flag at most.

      If there is a change in protocol so that this kind of behaviour warrants an immediate penalty, you would hope it had been raised at drivers’ briefings beforehand.

      1. There are several weaving possibilities.
        If the lead driver is running leftside and the follower tries to take his tow it should be allowed to break the tow.
        If the leader goes right and the follower does the same it’s no defending by blocking.
        So, should be allowed.
        If the weaving is meant to block the follower only one move is allowed.
        Movng under braking is always wrong.

      2. The problem is that we are goong to see one of these involving the leaders then is the Dutch director going to pass it to the stewards or not?
        They need to outline if you are allowed to defend or not because Stroll’s move looked more mistimed than dangerous to me.

        1. Dutch director?
          What are you talking about?

    2. I was thinking the weaving incident being less severe than the incident at turn 3 between same drivers. I think five seconds for turn 3 incident would have been correct, for weaving I would have given black/white flag for Stroll.

    3. Yes.

      I commented upon it as it occurred to my viewing buddy. it seemed quite clear at the time.

    4. I think Stroll diving into turn 3 and running Bottas off the road was the incident that the Stewards got very obviously wrong as it went completely against that new rule of leaving space for the other car. 3 races in and the stewards are already showing they have no intention of enforcing it. Great job.

    5. I hope these investigations are initiated by the stewards, not just when another team makes a loud appeal. After all, Alfa seemed to go “Howzat!” in response to the turn-3 manoeuvre.

      I think there are more serious safety concerns, also relevant to Stroll, like (as we approach the 40th anniversary of Gilles Villeneuve’s death) slow, aimless driving in practice and qualifying.

    6. They let far too many slight second moves go.

    7. I went for slightly agree rather than strongly because not every single similar instance has led to a penalty.
      This made me somewhat unsure of how to view this matter precisely.

    8. Agreed, though a warning might have been fine too since it seems this was the first time. Oddly enough given this rather strong penalty, Stroll pushing Bottas off at Turn 3 was deemed to be just fine. Apparently the stewards still think this is proper racing, but I’d disagree.

      Back to weaving; Schumacher’s antics in his battle with Zhou also seemed a bit too forceful.

    9. Definitely agree. Weaving in general is not legal and can be dangerous. It needs to be stamped out.

    10. To be honest someone should have a long talk with Stroll about his driving given the guy ends up in a lot of incidents that could have been avoided if he’d looked in his mirrors. He’s always so ‘surprised’ he got a penalty when nearly every – not all – but nearly every incident he’s been involved in was predominantly his fault. The guy drives about like he’s the only one out there and given how long he’s been in the sport now he should both be faster and more experienced than he is. At least Mazepin was inexperienced – I don’t know what Stroll’s excuse is, and worryingly I’d imagine neither does he.

      1. Fun penalty, will now this be enforced for all drivers?

        Like Max, Lewis… Or god forbid.. A Ferrari driver?

      2. Honestly I think this is why he got the penalty while other previous incidents had gone unpunished – he already had one for “lack of situational awareness” for his Latifi crash earlier that weekend, and the prior race he had turned in on Albon and IIRC was reprimanded?

        He clearly has mirrors, as he used them to weave, but he doesn’t seem to use them much on turn entry.

    11. I don’t need Stroll to crash to Williams’ and barriers’ I want Maldonado to crash to Stroll. Maybe then he will learn what a surprise crash is and why not to do them or to collect surprised penalties

    12. I like that Lance says ‘frickin’’, presumably just in case either his mum is listening, or the stewards are clamping down on choice language or he’s trying to reinforce Canadian stereotypes around politeness.

      Even George Russell uses the F-bomb from time to time.

    13. Either safety is paramount or it’s not important. He should have been given 5 additional seconds for the shenanigans in the corner but once again no collision no penalty. The stewards all need to be replaced. Having former drivers is not a good idea as their viewpoint is not from a safety perspective.

    14. The question is will the stewards apply this rule to all drivers?

      Was it the right call? Yes, but I ‘ve seen no calls for similar moves.

      That later move on Botas in the corner looked really close if not over the foul line. I thought Stroll was going to end up with a double penalty.

    15. Stroll needs to understand that the stewards are fed up with him. While most fans appear unaware of this, there’s actually a very small of “professional” stewards that rotate from race to race, and they’re paying attention.

      The more times a driver pops up in their investigations, the less lenient they’re going to be.

    16. Probably because it was his second offence of the weekend, his swerve into latifi was reckless at best, good job his dad is his boss is all i can say

    Comments are closed.