Schumacher penalised as Formula One shoots itself in the foot

Posted on May 16, 2010

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Michael Schumacher has been handed a 20-second penalty, relegating him to twelfth position, after passing Fernando Alonso on the final corner of the Monaco Grand Prix as the safety car pulled in.

Michael Schumacher makes his last corner move on Fernando Alonso. Capture from BBC coverage.

The seven-time champion seized the chance to pass Alonso’s Ferrari in a last gasp effort to secure sixth place but the stewards ruled the move was illegal.

It is under rule 40.13, which states that “if the race ends whilst the safety car is deployed it will enter the pitlane at the end of the last lap and the cars will take the chequered flag as normal without overtaking,” Schumacher has been given a penalty.

While this may be correct under the letter of the regulations, David Coulthard has made the best argument on this today. The track was clear, the safety car was in and the track was open under green flag conditions. On any other lap of the race the Schumacher move would have been legal because the cars were passed the first safety car line. Was this a race weekend or not?

It’s with regulation changes like this Formula One shoots itself in the foot. Previously, the safety car line was the start/finish line and if that was the case today, this incident wouldn’t have occured. The safety car would have pulled in and Mark Webber would have become the pace car to take them over the line. Equally, the safety car could have stayed out if finishing the last lap under racing conditions was deemed dangerous by race control.

But, instead, we see the stewards changing the result. Schumacher’s move was among the best, most opportunistic, moments of a Grand Prix which was never going to feature much overtaking. This may be what the rules say is supposed to happen. But the rule is wrong.

UPDATE:

The stewards ruling said: “The Stewards received a report from the Race Director that car Nr 3 – Michael Schumacher overtook car Nr 8 – Fernando Alonso when the Safety Car entered the pit lane at the end of the last lap. As the overtaking manoeuvre was in breach of Article 40.13 of the 2010 F1 Sporting Regulations, the Stewards decide to impose a drive through penalty but, as it occurred during the last five laps, 20
seconds will be added to the elapsed race time of car Nr 3.”

Mercedes will appeal, James Allen is reporting on Twitter.

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Posted in: Formula One, News