F1 stewards’ decisions set for inordinate delays

The world of Formula One is ever changing and events at the recent Australian GP may force the F1 FIA officials to change the way they operate from heron.

Race control set a new record for red flags throwing three which is the record since F1 began back in 1950.



Stewards agree restart order

And it was following the final red flag where the stewards were forced to adjudicate swiftly on a number of controversial matters.

Firstly, the restart order required determination. 

This was no easy task as even pit lane reporters with over 25 years experience found precedents for different methods of deciding the order in which the cars should line up.

The Sky F1 team in general agreed the order should be as the timing sheets displayed when the red flag was thrown. This would have meant Carlos Sainz in P3, Fernando Alonso out of the points and Haas newest driver just one place from a podium finish.

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Haas challenge stewards decision

Further, given the restart was always only to be a single lap behind the safety car to take the chequered flag, this order would decide the final race classification.

The chaos causing the red flag was such that the stewards finally decided to order the cars as they were at the previous restart.

Haas challenged the stewards to reconsider given the precedent set at the British GP in 2022, where the restart order was established from the epos of the safety car line.

This method of ordering of would of course have favoured the Haas drivers in Melbourne. The team’s appeal was to no avail as the stewards decided their was a material difference between the two situations.



Treatment of Sainz appears harsh

The final order of the restart was generally accepted as a reasonable decision however it was the penalty adjudications that saw the F1 race officials heavily criticised for their inconsistency.

As TJ13 revealed soon after the event, Pierre Gasly who caused the mayhem, was not penalised yet surprisingly Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was.

The Spanish driver had clipped the rear of Fernando Alonso’s car through turn 1 and spun the Aston Martin around. Alonso fell back through the field and was plumb last when the red flag was thrown. 

The stewards awarded the Ferrari driver 2 points on his license and a five second penalty which in effect dropped him from P4 to last and Carlos was classified P12 without scoring a point.

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Sainz dismayed with decision

Had Gasly suffered the appropriate penalty he would almost certainly have been banned from the following Azerbaijan Grand Prix for accumulating too many points on his F1 super license.

Sainz was distraught when told of the stewards decision.

“No. It cannot be, Ricky. Do I deserve to be out of the points? No. No! It’s unacceptable. Tell them; it is unacceptable! They need to wait until the race is finished and discuss with me. No!

“Please, ask them, please, please, please, please to wait, to wait and discuss with me. Clearly the penalty is not deserved, it’s too severe.”



Aston Martin set precedent for reviews

Of course since the events of Abu Dhabi, the officials cannot be engaged by the team during the race, so Sainz’s pleas went unheard.

It was somewhat of a surprise that Ferrari failed to lodge some kind of appeal with the stewards because this would force them to be open on why they had reached the conclusion they did.

Time penalties are not subject to an appeal however as Aston Martin demonstrated in the previous race in Jeddah, if a team can present additional information not available to the stewards at the time of their deliberations, a review can be granted.

Ferrari’s team boss has now revealed the team asked the FIA to review the decision.

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Ferrari ask FIA for review

“As we are discussing with the FIA, and we sent the report to the FIA, I don’t want to disclose any details of this discussion,” Frederic Vasseur revealed to Autosport. 

“The process is that first they will have a look on our petition to see if they can re-open the case. Then we’ll have a second hearing a bit later, with the same stewards or the stewards of the next meeting, about the decision itself.

Vasseur does reveal that the stewards at worst will be forced to explain the reasoning for punishing Sainz but not Gasly or Logan Sargent seemed to carelessly run into the back of Nyck de Vries during the same restart.

“What we can expect is at least to have an open discussion with them, and also for the good of the sport to avoid this kind of decision when you have three cases on the same corner, and not the same decision. 



Did the stewards over react?

The biggest frustration was from Carlos, and you heard it on the radio, to not have a hearing.

“Because the case was very special, and in this case, I think it would have made sense considering that it was the race was over, it was not affecting the podium, to have a hearing, as Gasly and Ocon had.”

Vasseur alludes to the criticism received by the stewards in Jeddah, who failed to investigate the alleged Fernando Alonso infringement for 32 laps, then after the chequered flag and the podium presentation relegated the Spaniard form P3 to P4.

It is plausible that the apparent lack of timeliness by the Jeddah stewards may have created an over reaction next time out by the stewards officiating at the Australian Grand Prix.

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Time penalties intended to be cut and dry

Of course the Aston Martin request for a review for Alonso, did result in the stewards overturning his penalty and Fernando was reinstated to the position where he finished the race.

Ferrari are hoping for a similar result for Carlos Sainz.

Time penalties were introduced into Formula One to provide instant justice and prevent the final classification of race results being delayed by endless debates in the stewards office, after the event.

The offences attracting time penalties were also in general cut and dry scenarios hence there being no right of appeal.



FIA need to stop race classification delays

Aston Martin’s clever exploitation of the “additional information” clause creates a de facto right of appeal for time penalties but now under a different name.

It could be F1 stewards have been over reaching with the range of incidents for which they have recently been awarding time penalties. If so this needs clearing up by the FIA and any subsequent right of appeal under any guise dismissed.

Moving forward it is clearly unacceptable for the final F1 race classifications to be decided after the event and even as late as the following F1 weekend by the next group stewards.

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