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Schmidt's F1 blog: Standard penalties for shortcuts

Schmidt's F1 blog
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W enn the comments of the fans are all meant seriously then Formula 1 has lost a few fans again with the GP Mexico. After the hiccup over Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen's shortcut and the penalty for Sebastian Vettel in the duel against Daniel Ricciardo, some spectators have terminated their friendship and threatened never to watch a Grand Prix again.

Race result with checkered flag

Basically, I agree with the critics. Punishments are annoying. Especially when pronounced 3 hours after the end of the race. With the checkered flag, I want to be certain that the 3 drivers on the podium are also the first 3 in the classification. The only exception: If, during the technical inspection, it turns out that one of the drivers was driving an illegal car at the finish. It's like doping in cycling. The participant is excluded.

Penalties for taking short cuts or driving unfairly are a modern invention. Up until Suzuka 1989, I can only remember two incidents that were comparable to what we experience almost every weekend today. Clay Regazzoni was excluded from the USA GP in 1975 because he deliberately prevented Emerson Fittipaldi from lapping several laps.

Ayrton Senna was disqualified for shortening the route at the 1989 Japanese GP because he continued his drive through the emergency exit after the collision with Alain Prost. We all know, of course, that this punishment was politically intentional at the time. Previously, there were only exclusions for outside help on the track, early starts, overtaking under a yellow flag, reversing in the pits or unauthorized repairs outside the pit lane. All understandable rule violations.

Every duel under the microscope

Today practically every duel is scrutinized. Because the TV cameras show everything. If punished, people get upset. If you let everything go through too. To put your mind at ease, it should be said that there are penalties in any sport that is directly fought against each other. And, like in football, it is often in the hands of a referee. In motorsport there are at least four. And we have data and the video evidence. Even so, not all penalties appear to be justified. When driving unfairly, it is incredibly difficult to find the right balance.

Perhaps one should really introduce stricter and simple standards. Simply to avoid discussions.It would be very easy to shorten the route. You could automatically punish it whether the driver has an advantage or not. Anyone who drives a straight between Curve 1 and Curve 3 in Mexico covers a shorter distance than the 4,304 meter route. So 5 seconds on top. Without debates, without long waiting. The same applies to those who drive a further path but gain time or a position through the larger radius. I don't need a stewards for that. The race director can decide that on an ad hoc basis.

And what should we do in duels with enemy contact, when changing lanes on the brakes? In the past, unwritten laws applied because everyone knew the consequences. Today cars and racetracks are safer. Therefore, driving is unfair. In extreme cases, you will not be able to avoid referee decisions. Maybe you should just increase the sentence in the event of an accident. The polluter must automatically suspend a race. Then the drivers might think twice about maneuvers.

What do you think? Do you have an idea how to solve the issue of penalties without driving unfairly and without the drivers no longer daring to fight hard on the track? Write to us.


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