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FIA agrees to time penalties for unsafe releases

NEWS STORY
02/08/2019

No sooner had the Hockenheim race stewards announced that Ferrari was to be fined for the unsafe release of Charles Leclerc during last weekend's German Grand Prix, than fans began taking to social media in outrage.

While Max Verstappen has been handed a time penalty in Monaco which compromised his race, fans were angered that Leclerc and Ferrari escaped with a fine.

"In Monaco, for clarification, it was labelled an unsafe release but it was actually for causing a collision in the pit lane," explained race director, Michael Masi, when asked about the incident. "So that's why that was different to Germany, which was clearly an unsafe release.

"Part of the discussion we had with team managers the other day, knowing the conditions could be changeable, and also taking into account everyone coming into the pit lane to do tyres at the same time is going to be a factor, it is still quite clearly consistent with the previous penalties," he added. "The fact that every other team thereafter was out didn't, even though the fast lane is as wide as it is, didn't allow what we saw at Silverstone with the car driving on the painted area."

However, other than what many still saw an an inconsistent application of the rules, there were fears that the bigger teams would continue the practice of releasing their drivers 'unsafely' and taking the fine merely to ensure an advantage during pit stops.

As a result, under pressure from team bosses following Thursday's meeting of the team managers, the FIA has now agreed to impose time penalties for the offence.

"It's completely wrong," said Verstappen after last week's race. "If you get a fine, everybody will do it.

"I think it's not fair," he added. "To say they gave me the penalty purely because we touched, I think that is also not fair, you're still releasing the car knowing there is a car in the fast lane.

"How big was the fine? 5,000? That's peanuts for a team. They really don't care to pay that. I think it's completely wrong to do that, especially if you talk about safety, it's not correct.

"I think they have spoken in the managers meeting about it. Let's see what they are going to do about it now."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by fenris, 03/08/2019 8:22

"To Pavlo - the increased engineering cost of designing engines that last multiple races far outweighs the gains from reducing the physical number of units produced. It is no coincidence that the team with the biggest budget has completely dominated the hybrid era. I agree with Endre, I have been completely turned off by the 10,20,30 place grid penalties. McLaren had some 60-place ones at some point. Totally ridiculous."

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2. Posted by Pavlo, 02/08/2019 16:17

"To Endre - it's very possible and not so challenging to make engine more powerful at the cost of reliability. So one team would just switch engines every race and the driver will win the championship same way as Brown did once."

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3. Posted by Endre, 02/08/2019 14:14

"These time and grid penalties given to drivers for what a team does, or car reliability issues are complete BS and big part of what turns people off from F1. Racing between drivers and the driver's championship should not be affected by these things. A much more appropriate penalty would be deductions from the team's constructor championship points or time penalties that would only count for the constructor's championship positions."

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4. Posted by *TestaRossa*, 02/08/2019 11:14

"Ferrari 's money penalty was a joke. "

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5. Posted by Pavlo, 02/08/2019 10:34

"to CL - Ok, in this case RB+Max should have been penalized/fined in Silverstone. Question is, what is the appropriate penalty - time or money?"

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6. Posted by CL, 02/08/2019 7:41

"If the driver pulling out of the pits can’t get the whole car in the “fast lane” he needs to slow and pull in behind the driver already in the fast lane. As in fast lane has precedence. Driver not in the fast lane is endangering pit crew otherwise."

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7. Posted by Pavlo, 02/08/2019 7:23

"To the editor - would be fair to add to the article, that Max Verstappen was released in the Silverstone similar way parallel to same Leclerc, and there was no penalty nor a fine.
Unlike Verstappen, I finally see here a fair system:
- if there is a touch, it's time penalty (Monaco)
- if driver on fast lane has the box later and therefore has to brake, it's fine for a team (Germany)
- if driver on the fast lane already pitted so they just drive along together, no penalties (Silverstone)
would be great if it's consistently applied in the following races."

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