Over three and a half hours after the conclusion of the dramatic last lap in the 2016 Austrian GP, the stewards have ruled on a lap last incident which saw the two Mercedes drivers collide whilst in 1st and 2nd place.
The race stewards decided “Car 6 did not allow Car 44 ‘racing room’ and hence the driver of Car 6 was responsible for the collision.”
Rosberg was subsequently awarded a ten second penalty for causing a collision and two penalty points for failing to stop his damaged car. The stewards though added, “We do note the extenuating circumstances and the fact that the driver of Car 6 (ROS) did slow down significantly and attempted to mitigate the risk to other drivers and cars.”
These penalties do not affect the overall classification of the race because the German driver finished P4, some 16.1 seconds ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo in fifth position.
Rosberg’s car suffered damage to the front wing during the coming together and he lost his front wing within metres, forcing the German to limp home across the line. The chasing Max Verstappen and Kimi Räikkönen overtook him before the chequered flag and Lewis Hamilton cruised to victory cutting his deficit in the F1 drivers’ title race to just 11 points.
The stewards have clearly attributed blame here, yet the penalty awarded has no effect whatsoever. Further, the penalty being handed down retrospectively obviously means the stewards understand the zero impact ‘no penalty’ penalty. Surely this kind of pointless decision is confusing and unacceptable?
How does the penalty compare to others handed down for similar incidents during races this year?
Bahrain: Bottas, caused a collision, drive through penalty and 2 penalty points
Russia: Sainz Jnr, forcing a car off track, 10 second time penalty, 2 points
Russia: Gutierrez, caused a collision, drive through penalty, 2 points
Russia: Kvyat, caused a collision, 10 second stop and go penalty, 3 points
Spain: Magnussen, caused a collision, 10 second time penalty, 2 points
Monaco: Ericsson, caused a collision, 3 place grid drop, 2 penalty points
Monaco: Bottas, caused a collision, 10 second time penalty, 2 points
Monaco: Kvyat, caused a collision, 3 place grid drop, 2 points
Unlike the coming together of the Mercedes drivers in Spain, here the stewards have penalised Rosberg. This may influence the teams’ decisions on how to deal with the matter internally, though at present Toto Wolff is leaning towards implementing team orders to prevent this kind of event.
“The outcome needs to be that we avoid contact between the two cars, so everything is going to be on the table,” said Toto to Sky Sports F1. Clearly, this would have meant today, Lewis Hamilton would have been instructed to hold station and been denied the opportunity to overtake and win the race.