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Tougher stewarding has drivers 'tucking in their elbows', says Masi

NEWS STORY
21/07/2021

Despite the ongoing row over last Sunday's first lap clash involving Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, Michael Masi insists that tougher stewarding this year is causing drivers to 'tuck in their elbows' more.

Though most see it as a racing incident, others appear to view the clash much like fans watching a football match, their opinion ultimately influenced by which of the two teams they support.

As Helmut Marko threatens legal action over what he perceives as the Silverstone stewards failure to properly investigate the clash - and mete out an appropriate punishment - the FIA's race director, Michael Masi defends them insisting that a crackdown this year has led to drivers 'tucking in their elbows' in the opening moments of a race and thereby causing fewer such incidents.

The weekend saw two first lap incidents however, the first in the Sprint, when George Russell was handed a 3-place grid penalty following his clash with Carlos Sainz, and, of course, Sunday's high-profile coming together.

"There is a clear point that the first lap is obviously treated in a much lighter way under the 'let them race' principles than the rest of the race," Masi is quoted as saying by numerous media outlets, "and letting drivers find their own balance.

"But the drivers have clearly said, as have the teams from the end of last year, that they felt their elbows were out a bit too far last year, and they needed to be tucked back in a little bit.

"You need to look at it as what's happening on that first lap," he explained. "It could be Turn 1, it could be Turn 6, depending on the nature of the circuit."

Referring specifically to last Sunday, he said: There were two cars clearly involved in the incident and all the drivers from the start of this year said that if there's two cars involved, that if there is someone that is predominantly to blame, predominantly or wholly, then that should be looked at a bit closer, even on the first lap.

"I think having looked at it all, their view was that he was predominantly to blame for that.

"The big part was similar to what happened with Charles later on," he added, referring to the move late in the race when Hamilton overhauled the Ferrari driver to take the lead, "that he could have, say, tucked in closer to the apex. And that was where they found that, I think the wording was quite clear as per the regulations, that he was predominantly to blame.

"He wasn't seen as wholly to blame for it, but seen as predominantly to blame, that he could have tucked in further."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Pavlo, 21/07/2021 22:29

"Totally agree. Either Lewis is „predominantly guilty“ and should at least get 10 seconds with stop-and-go to significantly ruin his race, or it’s „racing incident“ with no penalty.
Stewards can’t say he is guilty but give a totally meaningless penalty - considering that 10 seconds is normally not more than one place at a race length."

Rating: Positive (3)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by C5, 21/07/2021 21:41

"I think Mr. Masi is deluding himself here. Stewarding may be a bit tougher, and great if so.

But the thing is, has it really? Or just more irrelevant?

They've definitely been doling our more penalties in the races lately. But almost all of them are ridiculous 5 or 10 second penalties. Which are fine and appropriate for simple stuff like crossing white lines, running wide in corners, or being slightly out of the starting box. But utterly meaningless for more severe racing incidents.

Even more concerning, if they indeed have changed how they interpret the rules, they have done a s*** job out of explaining that to the audience (and, judging from the past few races, possibly also to the drivers). I read quite a bit F1 news, including in the off season. And I've seen no information describing any significant changes in stewarding, nor any kind of detail as to how, specifically, the rules would be interpreted going forward.

So it all just appears random and confused. Thus, only sure thing I can conclude is that, if there indeed has been a deliberate toughening of the stewarding - or intent to do so - Masi and his team has failed monumentally not very clearly communicating these changes to the public."

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