Former F1 driver Jolyon Palmer, who left Renault in the course of the 2017 season, is a part of the BBC workforce and affords perception and evaluation from the viewpoint of the opponents.
Charles Leclerc drove splendidly on Sunday to win the Italian Grand Prix – however he ought to have been penalised for forcing Lewis Hamilton off the highway on the second chicane.
The very fact Leclerc obtained away with that has left governing physique the FIA, the race stewards and the race director in an uncomfortable Rubik’s dice of a tangle.
Why Leclerc broke the principles
Let’s begin with the information.
Leclerc pressured Hamilton off the highway within the braking zone for the second chicane on lap 23, as Hamilton tried a transfer on the surface. That is simple.
Hamilton kicked up the grass in his evasive motion because the Ferrari moved throughout, and was pressured to chop the chicane and rejoin behind.
Firstly, this isn’t truthful racing from Leclerc. The foundations dictate that in such conditions drivers should depart a automotive’s width of house for his or her opponents, notably within the braking areas, the place they’re in full management of their automotive’s positioning, in contrast to on the apex or exit, the place small slides may cause them to deviate from their unique and meant trajectory.
Leclerc moved to the fitting whereas he was braking and compelled Hamilton off the highway. Hamilton could not do something about it, aside from to crash with Leclerc or to go off and lower the nook, as he was already on the restrict of the brakes and could not again out from alongside the Ferrari man. Nor ought to he have needed to.
Final yr, Crimson Bull’s Max Verstappen was penalised 5 seconds for an nearly an identical infringement on Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas at flip one in Monza, and it value the Dutchman a podium.
With Leclerc, although, the FIA introduced out its newest measure as a substitute of maintaining issues constant. They as a substitute confirmed the black-and-white warning flag to Leclerc.
Race director Michael Masi likens it to a yellow card in soccer; however it’s successfully nothing greater than a slap on the wrist.
The race stewards are at liberty to analyze any incident, no matter whether or not Masi makes use of the black-and-white flag. However on this case they took no motion.
Some have seen this because the stewards bottling it with an enormous resolution, in opposition to a race-leading Ferrari, in Monza, surrounded by 100,000 or so Italian followers all sporting crimson. Hamilton and Mercedes workforce boss Toto Wolff made an analogous level after the race.
In my opinion, the choice was clear-cut. A lot as I did not wish to see a penalty, as it will have inevitably ruined the race, the principles are the principles and so they have to be adhered to for the great of the game over the leisure issue of the present.
That is F1’s equal of Manchester Metropolis being 0-Zero with Crystal Palace and within the 60th minute Raheem Sterling is introduced down within the penalty space and the underdogs additionally then have a person despatched off.
Certain, it ruins the sport to present Metropolis the penalty and cut back Palace to 10 males, however these are the principles. You may’t not do it as a result of everybody needs to see a extra balanced sport for the remaining 30 minutes.
And also you particularly cannot not give it as a result of the sport is at Crystal Palace and their 25,000 followers within the crowd might be sad.
The chance of unintended penalties
I discovered it extraordinarily uncomfortable watching Masi attempting to clarify the scenario after the race.
He stated the revival of the black-and-white warning flag was a brand new measure introduced in on the request of the groups and drivers to permit for more durable racing.
However what precedent does this now set?
It means drivers are doubtlessly allowed to commit one offence in a race and get away with it. What kind of racing is that going to supply? And the way is that moral or truthful?
Verstappen obtained away with a doubtful race-winning transfer on Leclerc again in Austria and it has set a brand new precedent for forcing drivers off the highway on the surface on the exit of the nook. However in some ways Verstappen’s case was simpler to defend than this one from Leclerc.
As a result of Leclerc was given solely a warning, it will seem drivers are actually allowed to power one another off on the surface earlier than a nook as nicely.
If that is the case, there’s a critical danger that the times of an overtake across the exterior are nicely and really over, until a automotive is just about absolutely forward earlier than really attending to the nook.
Masi then went on to clarify an extra cause Verstappen might need been penalised final yr and Leclerc not this yr was as a result of final yr there was contact and this yr there wasn’t.
On the face of it, that makes some sense. However in actuality there was solely no contact this time as a result of Hamilton took higher evasive motion than Bottas did in his place final yr.
Actually, Bottas really had more room than Hamilton did final yr; he simply did not budge and the incident resulted in mild contact.
Which leads me on to the following problematic scenario – drivers may go in search of a little bit of contact on the surface, simply to show to the FIA absolutely the apparent, and thus get a penalty for the aggressor who’s clearly contravening the principles.
With motorsport security coming again into the general public eye after the dying of Anthoine Hubert in Belgium below F1’s very nostril, what kind of a press release is that this?
It appears both idiotic or downright irresponsible, and even each.
Wolff made this precise level after the race.
Requested if the black-and-white flag promoted drivers taking extra liberties and opened a can of worms, he stated: “There might be extra touching. It is going to be extra of a typical observe. My opinion is it should go to the purpose that it’s going to find yourself in a collision after which we are going to bale out once more.”
Wolff is completely proper. Drivers will at all times do every little thing they’ll to achieve a bonus, it doesn’t matter what’s at stake. If instantly they’ll get away with pushing one other driver off the monitor as soon as per race, they’ll do it. And if for the opposite driver it’s useful to have a bit of faucet with the automotive subsequent to you, they’ll search for it.
Leclerc’s second dodgy transfer
The following subject with the black-and-white flag is whether or not it a pure yellow card, or a yellow card for that specific offence solely? The FIA says the previous – that any new driving offence would depend.
Leclerc’s subsequent on-the-edge transfer got here when, below additional stress from Hamilton, he lower the chicane at flip one after which meandered up the curved straight of Curva Grande, with a sudden jink to the left as Hamilton appeared to have a run on him.
Hamilton backed out and in the end misplaced his momentum, and with it one other probability of a transfer was halted by Leclerc’s aggressive defence.
This time, the precise slicing of the nook (which was investigated) was nice – Leclerc rejoined and clearly did not achieve a bonus.
However the sudden chop throughout the nostril of Hamilton by way of the flat out Curva Grande nook (which wasn’t investigated) was as soon as once more proper on the restrict.
In isolation I most likely might see this being allowed, because the curved nature of the ‘straight’ blurs the traces considerably. However with the backdrop of the black-and-white flag already deployed, this was doubtlessly a second offence that would have seen a crimson.
Are selections constant sufficient?
The issue to me is the stewarding is inconsistent – some extent Hamilton made after the race.
The stewards have a troublesome job to do, they take it severely and so they attempt to do it as finest they’ll. However at instances, from the surface, it might really feel like selections aren’t primarily based on racing, however on the seemingly reputation of the choice with the plenty.
Again in China, Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat – nicknamed ‘the torpedo’ after a collection of incidents just a few years in the past – was handed a whopping drive-through penalty in China for what seemed to be a pure racing incident when he collided with each McLarens on the opening lap.
Would Leclerc have acquired the identical penalty? I doubt it.
The very fact is, Leclerc is a highly regarded driver. Actually, I’ve by no means recognized a extra fashionable front-runner and now race-winner in my time than the younger Monegasque driver. Has that, plus the actual fact he drives a crimson automotive, had a bearing on the consequence this weekend?
In Canada, I applauded the FIA for sticking to its weapons – and the rulebook – when handing Sebastian Vettel a penalty for a breach of guidelines when he rejoined the monitor after going off and impeding Hamilton.
However since then the demand from the groups and drivers to ‘allow them to race’ – which can be fashionable with the followers – has led to a problematic scenario the place it is exhausting to foretell what their subsequent resolution might be, and the place consistency can appear to be briefly provide.
A manifesto for change
This all overshadows the actual fact it was a cracking race and people have been unbelievable drives from each Leclerc and Hamilton.
The most important frustration is that Leclerc needn’t have pressured Hamilton off in any respect. He was on the within into the nook, and forward. Hamilton was by no means going to go across the exterior, so it was utterly pointless, and put a taint on an in any other case phenomenal drive.
A five-second penalty might need outraged many in Monza, however not giving it places the stewards in a extra uncomfortable place – and there’ll most likely now be many extra incidents and controversies in consequence.
In my opinion, F1 wants a whole guidelines reset. It’s a controversial thought, however I imagine the game wants a everlasting race steward, or stewarding workforce, who share the identical or related beliefs.
In the intervening time, stewards – and the ex-drivers who sit on the panel every race – have totally different opinions of varied incidents and that is what results in inconsistency.
However, as Hamilton identified, the drivers want consistency to know the way far they’ll push issues out on monitor.
Secondly, as soon as in place the stewarding workforce should clarify the principles clearly to the drivers, what they’ll and might’t get away with, and what the repercussions might be for every transgression.
Lastly, the straightforward bit – stick with the principles when handing out penalties.
Certain, within the brief time period there might be some uncomfortable and unpopular moments. However as soon as consistency is adhered to and the drivers are crystal clear what they’ll and might’t do, F1 might be fairer, safer and higher.
Proper now, that’s the solely factor detracting from what has been a season filled with cracking races like Monza.