At the Singapore Grand Prix, the judges once again surprised the paddock. The stewards decided not to punish Max Verstappen for blocking Yuki Tsunoda, citing the fact that the Dutchman was not informed about the approaching car. Despite the fact that previously in Monaco Leclerc was punished for a similar situation, noting that the team’s actions were not an extenuating circumstance.
We are investigating the Verstappen incident and looking for a solution to the problem.
Singapore Grand Prix Results:
“Team actions or inactions”
The incident between Verstappen and Tsunoda occurred at the beginning of the second segment. Yuki started a fast lap, while Max was on a warm-up lap and slowly making his way along the line. The Japanese finally had to give up the lap and on the next attempt he made a mistake and, unlike Liam Lawson, did not qualify for the final qualifying round. “I would be surprised if Verstappen doesn’t get a fine for this,” said former F1 driver and Sky Sports commentator Martin Brundle.
As we already know, Max avoided the penalty, and for this the judges had to organize a real multiple movement! First, the judges considered the episode in which Sargent blocked Stroll and, instead of penalty positions, gave the team a monetary fine. “The stewards took into account that the driver was not warned by radio, but in accordance with previous decisions, a competitor who admits that he did not warn in time receives a penalty,” says the decision about Sargent.
Logan Sargent at the Singapore Grand Prix
Photo: Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
After 15 minutes, the judges made a decision on Verstappen, and also in the form of a monetary fine for the team, and not penalty positions. “The stewards reviewed numerous incidents of blocking or suspected blocking and, in accordance with previous decisions, imposed sanctions of a warning for the driver and a monetary fine for the team,” they explained.
But wait a minute! In qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix, Charles Leclerc was penalized three places, even though he was not warned by the engineer either. “From radio communications it appears that the team did not warn Leclerc in time about Norris’s approach. Both drivers admit that Leclerc did not have the opportunity to safely avoid being blocked in the tunnel, but the stewards believe that Leclerc could have allowed his opponent to pass through the tunnel first if he had received the message, says the decision on Charles’ penalty . “The stewards reviewed all previous precedents for unnecessary suspensions and in each case the actions or inactions of the team were not a mitigating factor.”
Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc
Photo: Dan Mullan/Getty Images
That is, literally four months ago the judges wrote that in recent years the presence or absence of a warning from the team was not a mitigating circumstance, after which they imposed a three-place fine on Leclerc. But now it suddenly turns out that this is still an extenuating circumstance and Verstappen will therefore not lose three positions. And this, as the administrators write, “in accordance with previously made decisions”! This probably means that Sargent was not fined 15 minutes earlier.
This is not just an inconsistency, it is a diametrically different interpretation of the same events. It is impossible to refer to the fact that the decisions were made by different stewards, since they do not decide whether the team’s actions are taken into account in the event of a blockade or not, this should be recorded in the regulations. Judges cannot change the rules during the race, on the contrary, their duty is to ensure compliance with the rules already written. But, as we see, if judges do not want to impose a fine, no rule or previous decision can guide them.
The FIA regularly has problems with its own rules:
Commands require consistency
The entire paddock paid attention to the judges’ decision, but no one began to question it. The only person who spoke was Aston Martin’s director of car development, Tom McCullough, but even he was extremely restrained. “We understand that judges always have more information, but we want consistency in their decisions,” he said in comments to PlanetF1. Rumors have been circulating for years that judges’ verdicts sometimes contradict each other, but the situation does not improve.
At the same time, the predictability of decisions is not always good either. For example, at the Italian Grand Prix, George Russell deliberately cut the chicane to overtake Esteban Ocon. Russell knew he would receive a five-second penalty, but he could have lost even more if he had been stuck behind the Alpine. As a result, George committed a tactical foul and gained the advantage.
Sergio Pérez and George Russell
Photo: Peter Fox/Getty Images
In a sense, a similar incident occurred at the Singapore Grand Prix: Sergio Pérez pushed Alex Albon against the wall to take the lead and continue the advance. Albon rolled to the back of the pack and lost the opportunity to score points, but Checo, as planned, was able to escape from him and, after accumulating a five-second penalty, did not even lose his position. In other words, runners commit obvious infractions, taking advantage of the fact that they will not receive excessively high fines (stop-n-go, for example).
Perhaps a solution could be penalties calculated in positions and not in seconds. The fact is that five seconds in the arrival protocols are always relative: such a fine cost Pérez nothing, and Sainz lost eight positions in the Australian Grand Prix, which ended under yellow flags. At the same time, if Cheko could have been punished with two or three positions for a clash with Albon, regardless of the loopholes in the protocols, he would hardly have been so aggressive in the fight against Williams.
However, the problem is actually much deeper. The stewards and the FIA repeat that the amount of the fine does not depend on the consequences of the incident, but this is not the case. At Monza, Hamilton received a well-deserved penalty for contact with Piastri, but at Rog the drivers are constantly pushing each other and if Oscar had turned around, there would have been no penalty. That is, not only the final punishment, but also the fact of the process itself is less and less related to the pilot’s actions and more and more to the consequences. The current system is fundamentally inadequate to meet the level of career development. It’s time to develop fundamentally new approaches.
The Red Bull advisor had to apologize:
Hamilton, leave 80-year-old Marco alone. Even if the new ethics are correct