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Masi: Stewards job not to judge consequences of penalties


As the furore following yesterday's controversial clash continues, race director, Michael Masi insists that in investigating incidents it is not the stewards job to judge the consequences of the penalties they award not to explain their decision to the public in detail.

While - as Christian Horner, Helmut Marko and no doubt Max Verstappen himself will tell you - yesterday's elimination just nine corners into the race meant that Lewis Hamilton was able to take a huge chunk out of the Dutchman's title lead, it is the seemingly lenient penalty meted out to the Briton that further frustrates.

Though awarded a 10s penalty, the seven-time world champion served this at his pit stop and subsequently went on to win the race.

In the opinion of the Red Bull camp, Hamilton was adjudged to have been guilty of the incident - officially failing to avoid contact - yet was still able to win the race such was the seeming leniency of his punishment.

After the race, race director, Michael Masi was keen to make clear that the stewards look at each incident individually and judge it on merit and are not concerned with the consequences of their verdict.

In other words, they were judging the incident as it was and not in the context of two drivers battling for the title or the fact that a 10s penalty might leave the guilty party free to go on to win while his rival was sidelined.

"It's one of the big parts that's been a mainstay for many, many years," said the Australian. "And this came through discussions prior to my time between all of the teams, the FIA and F1, and the team principals were all quite adamant, is that you should not consider the consequences in an incident.

"So when they judge an incident they judge the incident itself, and the merits of the incident, not what happens afterwards as a consequence. And that's been something that the stewards have done for many years and have been advised to do from top down. I'm talking team involvement, and so forth.

"So that's the way that the stewards judge it, because (when they) start taking consequences into account, there's so many variables, rather than judging the incident itself on its merits."

Helmut Marko demanded a race suspension for Hamilton, and while this is somewhat over the top, many feel - especially as he was deemed 'guilty' - that Hamilton got off relatively lightly, driver tuned pundit Martin Brundle admitting that this was the second most lenient penalty the stewards could award.

"If you look at it on that basis you'll never find a penalty that will address an imbalance like that," said Masi. "If you look at it in that particular circumstance, so that is why going back a few years the teams, or team principals, made a clear distinction that they didn't want consequences taken into account they wanted it based on the incident itself.

"I completely understand that perspective and I think that is a general held view across all stewarding, to not look at consequences for that purpose."

The Australian also made clear that he does not feel the stewards need to account for their decisions in to the public in any great detail.

"You've got a lot of TV analysts out there with a lot of very experienced former drivers out there that will put a perspective forward," he said. "And the stewards look at absolutely everything that they've got available.

"Unlike a VAR process that's sort of done and dusted within 30 seconds, sometimes maybe a minute maximum, the stewards very much are told that you take the time that you need to analyse any possible element of any incident that occurs.

"So I don't see it from that point of view, I think the stewards need to remain as an independent judiciary. And I don't think they should, in their capacity, have any pressures, and they should take their time to analyse everything based on its merits."

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1. Posted by equator180, 21/07/2021 9:31

"I wonder if the site management would go back in the last 10 to 15 years and see if a similar incident occurred with Alonso being on the inside and another on the outside ended up either off the track or in the wall and what all the British patrons on here commented. Many here are acting like their spoiled kid never kicked the neighbors cat as it limped away. Just let the conservation reflect the same point no matter the driver, team or country of origin. Perhaps it would make boring conservation but it would be fair."

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2. Posted by kenji, 20/07/2021 23:29

"Interesting comments. After some further contemplation it appears that Verstappen did leave room and turned in when he had to otherwise he'd run off the track and he still had the overlap. Hamilton must have known that his trajectory 'off' the apex would force him wide thus taking Verstappen out. The points of contact would also confirm this.I am sure that this analysis formed the basis for the stewards to make their finding. Hamilton is one of the most experienced drivers on the grid and he would've known what he was doing. No one can carry that amount of speed into a corner that is configured in such a way. Was there any intent? RB , prima facie, appear to be seeking answers and this issue has a long way to run...hopefully, as if the results are not severely sanctioned it opens the door to more aggression and possible outcomes that won't have such benign endings. "

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3. Posted by Mad Matt, 20/07/2021 8:42

"I think the comments by both C5 and Great_White_Shark make interesting reading. I particularly think C5 is on to something with Max 'narrowing the turn'. I just wanted to add that while we can look at replays and look in detail at what happened the pair of them had to make the decisions they made in a split second, reacting to each others moves at 180mph... even more reason to call this a racing incident."

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4. Posted by C5, 19/07/2021 20:27

"@Pavlo, totally agree there are really two issues.

Penalties for causing a collision or, to a lesser degree forcing a competitor off the track, are way too weak. It is in no way a deterrent. In fact, the penalties given for this the past some years are a direct encouragement to boot someone off the track.

The other is the issue of what action requires a penalty.

We are obviously not privy to the pre-race briefing given to the drivers. Often it's quite clear but the incidents in the past two races I think are not. More transparency from the stewards would be helpful. Like issuing exact, specific reasoning for each decision after the race "these were the lines taken, this is what happened, this is what we have a problem with/do not have a problem with, if this or that action had been taken/not taken we would have deemed it OK/not OK". Preferably with explanatory graphics for us slow people.

At least for me, with the exception of the numerous track limit penalties in the previous race, all of which were completely correct, and Perez/Räikkönen incident in this race (which I missed, so I have no data), and I don't understand the penalties given out the past two races.

In the previous race I don't see what Perez and Norris should have done differently other than just give up racing and go home for the day, and this weekend I really don't think Lewis, as much as I root against him, did much wrong keeping the pressure up during the corner.

From initially thinking Hamilton had pushed off Verstappen, from the replays from the side and behind the cars, I think it's quite clear there's plenty of road on either side of the two cars, and it looks to me like Verstappen is narrowing the turn in an attempt at closing the door, when in fact there was no door left to close? How is this not a racing incident, and if it isn't what should each of the two drivers have done differently for none of them to get penalized?

Not that I see much chance of improvement. The powers that be are all way too busy patting themselves on the back for ruining qualifying to give a hoot about explaining to us mortals how, exactly, the rules are enforced."

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5. Posted by Great_white_shark, 19/07/2021 20:25

"mind-blowing how they can give a penalty for something that is allowed as per their own document. Had they followed their own guidance, they would have realised that Lewis was overtaking on the inside, that he had achieved a significant overlap, and that he was able to make the corner cleanly (i.e. under control and on the road). This is the far left hand branch of the flow chart they provided to the teams. The guidance in such circumstances is that the “corner is yours” i.e. you do not have to give way.

Prior to them handing down their decision, we pointed them towards their own guidance document. They did not dispute any of the key points – instead they chose to focus on the fact that it was a very fast corner, and not one that you should attempt such a move!

This is a wholly invented criteria. There is nothing to say that Copse is a forbidden overtaking spot, and indeed, Lewis went on to overtake Norris and LeClerc on the same corner. There was an accident with Max because Max was not willing to cede a line that Lewis had wrestled from him.

Anyone who has watched Max drive will know that he is never willing to cede the line- irrespective of the overtaking guidance document. This accident has been coming for a long time, and it is hard to hear Christian Horner’s complaints as other than hollow whining.

Lewis is one of the cleanest drivers who has ever got behind a wheel – he just was not willing to yield having established control of the corner. With a bit of luck, Max will think twice next time.

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6. Posted by Pavlo, 19/07/2021 19:43

"At least some consistency, but in a very bad way. Ideally penalty should motivate to follow the rules, but recently they motivate to break the rules.
Aside of the question who is guilty, if the stewards decided that Lewis, Lando and Serghio were guilty, they penalized them all less than they would lose by following the rules. It’s quite an open advice to Max - next time just push Lewis out and you will win the title."

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7. Posted by Tardis40, 19/07/2021 18:51

"The penalty was grossly insufficient for the infraction."

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8. Posted by jcr, 19/07/2021 15:15

"To clarify my last comment
Saturday, George V Carlos
Sunday, Hammi V Max
Same Stewards, Same event, Same offence, Different Penalty."

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9. Posted by husoi, 19/07/2021 15:12

"People should open their eyes when watching the footage of Ver turning in aggressively onto Ham.
Both at fault aka race incident."

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10. Posted by jcr, 19/07/2021 14:58

"The real problem is the inconsistency of the punishments,
# One you leave no room driver goes off but rejoins,
Guilty 3 grid positions next race and 3 points on license,
# two, Same scenario. driver goes off track. Hits barrier and goes to hospital.
Guilty, 10 sec penalty.
Does not equate."

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11. Posted by Burton, 19/07/2021 11:39

"Has there been an intentional move away from drive-through/stop-and-go penalties?"

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12. Posted by Greg, 19/07/2021 10:25

"Fully agree. Judge on the incident itself not the final outcome. Who is to say that something else might occur later that has another affect on the race.."

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