The history of Formula One regularly sees the competitors trying to gain an advantage by appealing to the sport’s governing body over infringements by their competition. Ferrari protested McLaren back in 2008 for spying on their private documents and the British team received a $100m fine as a result.
Today Haas F1 have protested the race results for Sergio Perez and Alpine’s Fernando Alonso as they argue both drivers should have been issued a black and orange flag for damage on their cars which race control should have enforced both teams to pit their drivers for repairs.
Perez damage not called in by F1 race control
Sergio Perez suffered damage to his front wing on lap one as he made contact with Valteri Bottas and the vertical endplate of his front wing was damaged. The carbon fibre element was flapping in the wind for several laps before it broke free on the back straight as Perez made an overtake.
In a shocking coming together, Fernando Alonso was launched into the air as he made an attempt to pass Lance Stroll. This resulted in the Alpine car sustaining damage which required Alonso to pit. However despite the teams remedial action one of the wing mirror on Alonso’s car was visibly loose for several laps before it too fell off several laps after the contact.
The “meatball” flag as its often called is designed to ensure an F1 car with damaged bodywork must pit immediately for safety reasons.
Historic reasons for “meatball” flag
The reason the FIA take loose components on cars so seriously dates back to the 2009 F1 season and the Hungarian GP.Felipe Massa was airlifted to a Budapest hospital with a skull fracture as the result of an injury received during qualifying.
The Brazilian was knocked unconscious when a spring, which had become detached from the rear suspension of Rubens Barrichello’s Brawn, struck Fekipe Massa on the head as he reached 175mph on one of the fastest sections of the Hungaroring.
Massa’s Ferrari cut the inside of the left-hand bend that followed soon after, ran straight across a run-off area and embedded itself in a quadruple-layer tyre barrier.
Haas incandescent over unfair treatment
The qualifying session was immediately suspended as Massa was removed to the track’s medical centre, stabilised before being flown to hospital, where he successfully underwent emergency surgery.
The hospital released a statement last night saying Massa’s condition is serious but stable, adding that surgeons expect him to be awoken this morning after being kept sedated on a respirator overnight.
Haas are upset with the FIA’s F1 race control and stewards because they have been issued with the “meatball” flag three times this season in Canada, Hungary and Singapore.
Lando Norris lost his entire left hand side wheel shroud as he passed the Alonso/Stroll crash but McLaren were not required to bring their car in and fix the bodywork issues.Paul Monaghan and Jonathan Wheatley of
Christian Horner revealed after the chequered flag they had communication with the FIA during the race to demonstrate the damage to Perez car was in effect safe.
“The piece of the endplate came off. At that point, the wing was structurally safe. We worked with the [FIA] technical delegate to show him that structurally, it was sound, and they were happy with it that.”
FIA inconsistency a theme for 2022
There has been consistent criticism of the FIA this season for a lack of consistency in race control and stewarding consistency.
Part of the problem lies in the fact the FIA decided to remit 2 F1 race directors to replace Michael Massi who both interpret similar circumstances in a different manner.
Since the furore over the F1 race control decisions at this years Japanese GP to deploy a recovery tractor while Formula One cars were live on track the FIA have benched Eduardo Freitas from his race control duties.
For the remaining 3 races, Neils Wittich will assume control of F1 track management in an attempt by the FIA to deliver more consistent decision making.
The Haas protest will presumably fall by the wayside but will add pressure to FIA’s president Mohammed Ben Sulayem to return to having just one FIA appointed F1 race director for 2023.
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 23, 2022