Mick Schumacher, Haas, Circuit of the Americas, 2022

Steiner annoyed by lack of apology from race director over COTA protest error

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In the round-up: Haas team principal Guenther Steiner believes the team deserved an apology from the race director after last year’s United States Grand Prix.

In brief

Steiner annoyed by lack of apology from race director

Haas team principal Guenther Steiner is annoyed he did not receive an apology over a misunderstanding which led to a stewards’ decision going against his team at last year’s United States Grand Prix.

A penalty given to Fernando Alonso following a review instigated by Haas was overturned when Alpine pointed out Steiner’s team had submitted their appeal after the 30-minute deadline had passed. The stewards came down on Alpine’s side and restored Alonso to the points at the expense of Haas driver Kevin Magnussen.

Guenther Steiner, haas, Albert Park, 2023
Steiner’s protest was initially upheld – then overturned
The stewards noted Haas had mistakenly been told by an official in race control – which Steiner later said was the race director, Niels Wittich – they had one hour to submit their paperwork. “When the race director says you have an hour you take his word for it,” said Steiner in his forthcoming book.

“What really annoys me is that when we had a meeting about it the race director denied saying what we thought he’d said and wouldn’t even apologise. And he’s the race director, for fok’s sake! If he’d said, ‘okay guys, look, I’m afraid I foked up’, we’d have been okay about it.”

Bedrin the surprise pacesetter in F3 testing

The FIA Formula 3 championship started its second in-season test at Imola on Tuesday, and Nikita Bedrin was the surprise pacesetter in both sessions.

The Jenzer Motorsport driver is currently 23rd in the standings with a best finish of 15th, having stepped up from Formula Regional Middle East where he won two races at the start of this year.

Bedrin topped the morning session at Imola by just 0.024 seconds over Prema’s Mercedes junior Paul Aron, with Hitech GP’s Alpine junior Gabriele Mini a further 0.048s behind. Less than a second covered the top 18 drivers, and MP Motorsport’s Jonny Edgar was ninth fastest despite crashing.

His team mate Franco Colapinto was fastest for much of the afternoon session. Trident’s points leader Gabriel Bortoleto stopped with a technical problem but then returned to track and went fastest. A red flag period caused by his team mate Leonardo Fornaroli crashing left little time late on to set flying laps, but Bedrin maximised his opportunity to go faster than Bortoleto by 0.322s.

Pulling leads F1 Academy test

Pulling headed F1 Academy testing at Paul Ricard
Preparations continue for the first season of F1 Academy, a Formula 4 series that has been created by Formula 1 exclusively for female drivers.

After their first pre-season test at Barcelona earlier this month, the 15-car field was back on track at Paul Ricard on Tuesday. Both are tracks the series will race at later this year.

Alpine junior Abbi Pulling – driving for Rodin Carlin – set the fastest lap of the day, and topped two of the four sessions. A parallel F4 test also took place that was being run by France’s famous Winfield Racing School.

New Eurocup-3 series makes track debut

Eurocup-3, the new continental series based around modified Formula Regional chassis, made its track debut yesterday at Valencia’s permanent race track.

All five of the teams signed up to the series were in action, with 13 cars on track as testing began. MP’s Sebastian Ogaard topped the morning session by 0.152s over Campos Racing’s Esteban Masson, who led the way in the afternoon by 0.501s over Palou Motorsport’s Javier Sagrera. Every driver set their best lap in the second session.

The test also marked the track debut for Palou Motorsport, a team that has been launched by 2021 IndyCar champion Alex Palou. They ran two cars at Valencia, although are yet to announce any drivers for Eurocup-3’s inaugural season.

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Comment of the day

After the FIA denied Ferrari’s attempt to get a second hearing on the steward decision and five-second penalty that cost Carlos Sainz Jnr a points finish in the Australian Grand Prix, the team has responded by saying it wants to open wider talks about the standard of stewarding in F1.

The circumstances in which Sainz was penalised were very peculiar due to the race being red-flagged and so the incident he was penalised for (a crash with Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso) did not impact the race result, and he was also not summoned to the stewards to provide his explanation of the incident before he was penalised.

The penalty and subsequent actions by Ferrari has been a point of debate ever since the race, which was over two weeks ago, not just in the paddock but also among those following the sport:

I have always been saying this. It is time to change the extent of any penalty to be based on the consequences of the offence rather than the nature of the offence itself.

So many times it happens that the same penalty is given on a track with Tarmac run-offs and a track with gravel run-offs with widely differing consequences of the same offense. Penalties can’t be same all the time if the consequences of the action are different

If Alonso didn’t suffer anything due to this offence, the penalty should also be in sync with the offence.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Jiten, Lenny, The Comedian 39, The_Pope and Tommo N7!

On this day in motorsport

  • 20 years ago today Bjorn Wirdheim won the first race of the new Formula 3000 season at Imola

Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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15 comments on “Steiner annoyed by lack of apology from race director over COTA protest error”

  1. Curious to know where one would find the Formula Academy lap times since it’s not shown on their website or Twitter feed. Not sure why the secrecy or why they want to hide the overall times but I guess I’m not surprised.

    1. @gitanes then you can’t have done a good job looking for the times, because they are not trying to be secretive – the times were published on their website yesterday: https://www.f1academy.com/Latest/7m8Wmr8i44XQFD6xI7I4ka/day-1-of-testing-completed-in-le-castellet

  2. I like the purposeful F-word mis spellings to avoid using the full forms, but yes, an apology would’ve been good.

    Succesfully in IndyCar, SF, & F2? Not really.

    COTD makes a valid point. Basing penaltes on consequences would indeed be good, given the differing outcomes caused by runoff area surface types.

    1. Misspellings & penalties.
      I’m sure I typed correctly, but still something went wrong.

      1. 🥱🥱🥱🥱🥱 Here we go again

    2. It’s his own book, why would he need to avoid spelling the actual word?

    3. Yes, but now you’re adding a whole lot of subjective analysis to a sport that has failed to reliably implement what are arguably objective standards.

  3. Given how frequently he used it, you’d think Steiner would know how to spell the f-word.

  4. The problem with COTD suggestion is that the consequences of an action can be down to chance. So a minor indiscretion could result in a more severe penalty than a major one.

    Alonso only stayed in 3rd because of the red flag. At the time Sainz did what he did no one was to know that. So whether Sainz deserved a penalty should be based on what he did rather than how ultimately someone’s race was affected by it in the end.

    1. Maybe penalties and licence points could be separate; time/grid penalties are given for the consequences of an action, licence points for the nature of why the action occurred. However there will need to be set unambiguous guidelines for the Stewards to follow for both penalties and license points so that penalties are not (/less) subjective.

      For example:
      Bottas in Hungary locks up into the first corner a couple of years ago – not that an uncommon occurrence, no intent just a minor driving error and over optimism = 1 point on his licence. The result of the crash – taking out four or so cars = 10 second stop/go per car taken out – at the next race by half way through the race if he doesn’t continue – as he didn’t.

      Verstappen break testing Hamilton in Jeddah (as he was deemed to have done by the Stewards whom had ‘all the information’) = 5 points on his licence. The result was damage to Hamilton who could continue so only a five second time penalty.

      There would still be perceived unjustness in this style of penalty as cars may retire after a penalty has been applied under the information at the time (e.g. in an alternate to the Hamilton/Verstappen case above – Hamilton could continue so they give a five second time penalty to Verstappen but then Hamilton has to retire ten laps later (due to the crash) – should Verstappen be given an additional time/grid penalty and if so how do we know that the retirement was due to the contact and not an unrelated thing? But if it is written into the rules if the victim can continue for five laps then the penalty will be applied then, then at least everyone is playing to the same rules. And and addition to the rules to cater for the last race of the season as next race penalties will have no affect.

      1. That’s an interesting idea, and I do like it. But I’m so sure it could work in the reality we live in @madman, and the fact that you’d possibly have two moments to look at to decide on the penalty(/ies) makes me worry for even more inconsistency though as you explain in principle separating action and consequence should make it more straightforward, that’s only if the humans who decide on it are consistent and clear.

        1. make that not so sure it could work, hah.

  5. On the cause/consequences debate in COTD, I wonder if a possible “third way” is for the stewards to determine whether a penalty should be given based strictly on the offence, but then take consequences into account when deciding on the severity of the penalty.

    For example, in Australia, Sainz caused a collision, so a penalty is appropriate. However when deciding on what penalty to apply the stewards could factor in that Alonso suffered no loss of position and therefore the penalty should be a lenient one. But if Alonso had dropped to the back of the field as a result of the crash, Sainz might have expected a more severe penalty.

    In practice this probably already happens to some extent – Silverstone 2021 for example, Hamilton got a 10-second penalty for colliding with Verstappen when other similar incidents have usually resulted in 5 seconds only; it is likely the stewards were influenced by the championship battle when deciding what penalty to impose. (I maintain that Hamilton’s penalty for that incident was too lenient, but that’s because I think he probably ran into Verstappen deliberately, not because of the consequences of the collision per se).

    1. I understand the logic of this approach but it feels like a horrible perversion of the rule book. The penalties for driving incidents are there for safety reasons primarily so if you disproportionately penalise “consequential” incidents then it’s going to lead to potentially dangerous driving when people feel they have nothing to lose.

      I always felt grosjean’s race ban in 2012 was extremely harsh and hated the fact that the stewards said the fact a title contender (Alonso) was taken out made up their minds to ban him, rather than a more lenient penalty. That’s a dreadful message to send. If Charles Pic had done the same thing at La Source from further back on the grid, are we to assume he would not have been banned?

  6. Re Cotd.

    The thing about the incident vs consequence argument, is that the consequences are often taken into account in determining penalties, despite what the stewards and maybe the rules say. And in fact, it is impossible to completely separate incident from consequence, because the consequence is part of the incident itself. A driver outbrakes himself or has a small moment of oversteer resulting in contact with a rival – if both cars continue with no significant damage then there is no penalty and we just consider it a racing incident and move on. But if that same incident results in a hit at an awkward angle and breaks the innocent competitor’s suspension, forcing them to retire, then usually a penalty is applied.

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