Fine for unsafe release was "proper" insists Binotto


At the best of times stewards decisions are either seen as fully justified or totally unfair, depending on one's point of view.

The decision to fine Ferrari for its unsafe release of Charles Leclerc during last weekend's German Grand Prix fell into the latter category as far as many were concerned.

In its efforts to maintain position Ferrari released the Monegasque who almost T-boned Romain Grosjean, a task usually reserved for Kevin Magnussen... and vice versa.

However, rather than impose a time penalty on Leclerc, the stewards fined his team 5,000 euros, a move welcomed by the Italian team and the tifosi but regarded as outrageous by just about everyone else.

Such was the outcry, race director, Michael Masi had to subsequently explain the reasoning behind the decision, though the FIA subsequently relented and ruled that from now on, in the case of unsafe releases, time penalties will be applied.

Asked for his thoughts on the matter, Mattia Binotto was in no doubt.

"Several races are difficult situations, difficult situations to judge, difficult situations to act on," he said. "During the weekend at Hockenheim, I think that the drivers met with the FIA on the Thursday and discussed the approach. What was key was certainly to be safe respective to the mechanics in the pit lane which was a key factor and for example, in the case of Charles, the Red Bull team was ready for a pit stop and was just in front of him and I think the way that somehow Charles drove was very safe in respect of the mechanics and the pit crew.

"Yes, he had to slow down to be careful with the cars coming in but that's a racing situation," he continued, "and I think that as a team, when you've got such traffic, again, I think what is key is safety first and then in a racing situation where we have been fined, I don't think there will be a much different situation or different judgement in the future. I think the way it has been judged was the proper one."

"I slightly crapped myself when I saw Romain Grosjean heading for me at the pit wall," said Christian Horner. "From my point of view it looked really unsafe, pretty frightening prospect that.

"Yeah, it's a tricky one isn't it?" he added. "Max got a penalty in Monaco for what was an unfair release and it was deemed that it was because he touched the car of Bottas. It's a tricky one, they are slightly different incidents but I think that what you want to see more than anything is an element of consistency because otherwise, from a team point of view, from the guy that's releasing the car, what call does he make when he's making that release now?

"It's a difficult one. Where there are pit lanes like in Silverstone, we actually had a good scenario where the two cars were released and there was enough room for them to go side-by-side down the pit lane."

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Published: 03/08/2019
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