Foto: Red Bull Racing
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner warns that the penalties now awarded in Formula 1 could encourage drivers to push someone else off the track.
The penalties awarded to Lando Norris and Sergio Perez at the Austrian GP continue to calm the mood. In the early stages of the race, Lando Norris was given a five-second time penalty for pushing Sergio Perez off the track in turn five, and later in the race it was Perez who got a five-second penalty for forcing Charles Leclerc to by plowing the gravel box.
Bestraffing of race-incident?
Christian Horner describes the incident between Norris and Perez as a “racing incident.”
“The incident between Checo and Lando, that’s racing,” he said. “You go around the outside, you take the risk, especially if you’re not in the position to be ahead. But I think that after they handed out that first penalty, the FIA had no choice but to hand out a penalty for a similar action with Charles. “These guys have raced karting from a young age and know that going around the outside takes risks, especially when you’re not ahead. So yeah, I think the penalties were a little harsh and it kind of goes against the ‘let them race mantra’ that we’ve been promoting in recent years.”
Danger of abuse
He cautions, however, that this may invite riders to use the system in a wheel-to-wheel battle to screw up the competition, a bit like we sometimes see footballers take a nosedive.
“You don’t want the equivalent of diving footballers, I think we should avoid that,” emphasizes Horner. “I know it’s incredibly hard because we talk about these things a lot, and it’s hard for the race director, but I did feel that the incidents that we did see might have led to more racing incidents than that they deserved penalty points.”
Michael Masi, F1’s race director, does not discuss individual cases per driver with the stewards, but he does shed some light on the cases that led to sanctions over the past weekend.
“In the first case, in Sergio’s with Lando, he was completely beside Lando. That is why there is an obligation to leave the width of a car to the edge of the track.”
“Then it was the same in reverse with Checo and out of Turn 4, then Checo and Charles again at the out of Turn 6.
Stewards have a difficult job
“Of course I’m not in the stewards’ room to discuss, but their opinion was that in all three cases the width of a car should be left to the edge of the track because the two cars were driving side by side.”
But there is still material for discussion as during the start behind the safety car Sergio Perez went outside the limits of the track and over the asphalt strip in the first corner to try to overtake Lando Norris. An incident that was not penalized but when Lando pushed Norris Perez into the gravel, it was. Could the presence of the gravel pit influence the stewards’ decisions?
“Gravel clearly has an impact in those places, so you’d say yes, if you look at it logically,” Masi admitted.
“You have to look at them all on their own, the characteristics of the track, and so on.”
The discussion about penalizing the drivers will clearly continue, as is the case in football with the distribution of yellow and red cards…
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