Why the FIA is unmoved over Austria F1 penalty criticism

Formula 1 fans have been divided in opinion over whether the penalties handed out to Lando Norris and Sergio Perez at the Austrian Grand Prix were justified or not.

In an era when the sport has tried to encourage a ‘let them race’ mentality, the sanction given to Norris in particular prompted the biggest debate of all.

With the McLaren driver having not made any contact with Perez, and the duel being not much different to similar incidents that escaped sanction in the past, it was no surprise that many were unhappy with the FIA’s heavy-handed ruling.

Perez had clearly put himself in a risky spot by trying to go around the outside of the Turn 4 corner, especially knowing that the gravel trap on the outside has a habit of sucking cars in to it if they run slightly wide.

But F1 race director Michael Masi says the governing body is unmoved by the criticisms, and says that all three incidents – with Perez later involved in similar clashes with Charles Leclerc – were judged on the same criteria.

For him, the key factor is that the driver on the inside – Norris in the first incident and Perez later on – had not left a mandatory car width on the outside on the exit of the corner as he should have done because their rival had been fully alongside.

“In the first case, in Sergio's one with Lando, he was wholly alongside Lando,” explained Masi. “And therefore there is an onus to leave a car's width to the edge of the track.

“Then it was the same in the reverse with Checo and at exit of turn four, and then Checo and Charles again at the exit of turn six.

“Obviously I don't sit in the stewards room to deliberate, but their view was in all three circumstances, a car's width should have been left to the edge of the track because the two cars were alongside each other."

Read Also:

Another factor that likely came into play here also was that the outside of both Turn 4 and Turn 6 at the Red Bull feature gravel rather than asphalt run-offs.

So any incidents of drivers being forced wide have much bigger consequences than if there is asphalt run offs where drivers lose little if they go wide and are then able to resume fighting soon after.

Asked if incidents involving gravel are treated differently, Masi said: "Obviously, gravel does have an impact in those places. So you know, yes, you would say looking at it logically.

“Each of those you have to look at on their merits, characteristics of the circuit, etc."

The Norris incident is not the first time this season that cars on the outside have been pushed wide – with title rival Lewis Hamilton having been edged out at the first corner of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix by Max Verstappen in a move that was deemed acceptable.

But Masi says it is very hard to compare different incidents as there are often not identical circumstances.

Reflecting on why the Imola scenario was not comparable, he said that the first lap of the race is often not treated so harshly.

"First corner, lap one, and you have to remember this from a team's perspective as well, that all lap one incidents are treated in a more lenient manner,” he said. “And that has been the case for a number of years under the let them race principles, let's call it.

“But each and every one, it's very difficult to try and compare. I know everyone likes to group everything, but it's very difficult to compare two completely different corners a la Imola, and either turns four or six here."

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB16B,Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF21

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB16B,Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF21

Photo by: Erik Junius

Leclerc/Verstappen comparisons

The penalties at the Red Bull Ring also prompted recollections of the way that Verstappen triumphed in 2019 despite forcing Leclerc wide at the exit of Turn 3 on the penultimate lap of the race.

Back then, the move has given the all clear by the FIA and hailed as part of a new philosophy to get the drivers battling hard.

Asked about whether the treatment of the 2019 incident and the dishing out of penalties this time around showed a lacked of consistency, Leclerc wasn’t so sure.

“I think this one is probably a little bit different, because you can argue that two years ago, I was not in front at the apex, or we were very close, at least,” said Leclerc. “But this year I was definitely in front at the apex, so he [Perez] had to leave a space on the exit. But I think he knows he overstepped it a little bit. We spoke with Checo, he apologised straight away after the race and it's fine, I'm the type of guy that is not staying on it for so long. So, the air is clear, and I'll go forward.

“But I feel like this one was obviously a little bit different. The consequences were bigger for me, there was gravel and not tarmac, and I was also in front at the apex around the outside, so you need to leave space.”

Read Also:

shares
comments

Related video

Alonso felt ‘sad’ taking final F1 point off Russell in Austria
Previous article

Alonso felt ‘sad’ taking final F1 point off Russell in Austria

Next article

Shovlin: Mercedes F1 became ‘makers of our own issues’ in Austria

Shovlin: Mercedes F1 became ‘makers of our own issues’ in Austria
Load comments
The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback Prime

The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback

It’s easy to look at Robert Kubica’s second Formula 1 career and feel a sense of sadness that he didn’t reach the heights for which he seemed destined. But as Ben Anderson discovered, performance and results are almost meaningless in this context – something more fundamental and incredible happened…

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver the goods for McLaren Prime

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver the goods for McLaren

From being lapped by his own teammate in Monaco to winning at Monza, it’s been a tumultuous first season at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo. But, as he tells STUART CODLING, there’s more to the story of his turnaround than having a lovely summer holiday during Formula 1's summer break...

Formula 1
Nov 26, 2021
The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title Prime

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title

As the battle continues to rage over the F1 2021 drivers' championship, teams up and down the grid are turning their attentions to the prize money attributed to each position in the constructors' standings. But F1's sliding scale rules governing wind tunnel and CFD use will soften the blow for those who miss out on the top places

Formula 1
Nov 25, 2021
The invisible enemy that's made Hamilton's title charge tougher Prime

The invisible enemy that's made Hamilton's title charge tougher

After winning his past few Formula 1 titles as a canter, Lewis Hamilton currently trails Max Verstappen by eight points heading into the final double-header of 2021. Although Red Bull has been his biggest on-track challenge, Hamilton feels that he has just as much to grapple with away from the circuit

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2021
Why F1's inconvenient penalties have to stay Prime

Why F1's inconvenient penalties have to stay

OPINION: Quibbles over the length of time taken by Formula 1's stewards over decisions are entirely valid. But however inconvenient it is, there can be no questioning the importance of having clearly defined rules that everyone understands and can stick to. Recent events have shown that ambiguity could have big consequences

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021's title fight climax Prime

The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021's title fight climax

OPINION: Red Bull has had Formula 1’s fastest package for most of 2021, but in several of the title run-in events it has wasted the RB16B’s potential. It cannot afford to do so again with Lewis Hamilton motoring back towards Max Verstappen in the drivers’ standings with two rounds remaining

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
Qatar Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Qatar Grand Prix driver ratings

Qatar was a virtual unknown for most as Formula 1 made its inaugural visit to the Gulf state, and tyre management quickly emerged as an even more critical factor than normal. Perhaps then it should come as no surprise that two of the championship's elder statesmen produced standout drives

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2021
How Hamilton dominated in Qatar despite missing a key Mercedes advantage Prime

How Hamilton dominated in Qatar despite missing a key Mercedes advantage

There was simply no stopping Lewis Hamilton on Formula 1's first visit to Qatar. The Mercedes driver eased to pole position and led every lap to secure an utterly dominant victory - even without a key Mercedes weapon in his arsenal to increase the heat on Red Bull heading into the final two races of the gripping 2021 title race

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2021