Whoever wrote the script of Belgium GP has to be someone who’s fond of action movies – the kinds where cars slide, screech, jump over and run into one another. Even the slowest part of the track – the pit lane wasn’t spared. Besides the heartbreak and grim reaction on Nicole Scherzinger’s face when her boy toy crashed at turn one, there were 3 more incidents in & around the pit lane which caught stewards’ eye.
1. On lap 14, Caterharm’s Heikki Kovalainen was leaving the pits after his scheduled pitstop while his next-door garage neighbour – HRT’s Narain Karthikeyan was pulling in. Apparently, Caterham decide to release him early without taking into consideration Karthikeyan’s arrival resulting in Kovalainen clipping the Indian driver’s rear wing. This didn’t go down well the stewards. Despite Caterham apologizing to HRT, stewards fined them €10,000.
2. Similar incident nearly happened when Webber was leaving the pits and Massa was charging in. Though no contact was made between the two cars, stewards decided to take to investigate the incident after the race. However, Webber wasn’t penalized.
3. Another incident that almost certainly would’ve altered the outcome of the race in a big way, was the incident involving Michael Schumacher & Sebastian Vettel at the entrance of the pit lane where the 7-time world champion cuts across the later to enter the pitlane. After hearing both the parties, FIA decided not to take any action against the German driver.
Many believes there’s double-standards in decision making by FIA. Well, here are the reasons why the above decisions were made:
– In Heikki’s case, Caterham accepted that they had made a mistake. According to the stewards, “The team admitted to the stewards that it considered itself at fault in causing unsafe release and apologized to HRT accordingly. The stewards did not consider that any sporting advantage was gained.”
– In contrast, as far as Schumacher & Vettel were concerned, Red Bull Racing admitted that they had instructed their driver to the opposite of what Schumacher did. Both the drivers were dog fighting and both were slotted to make their scheduled pit stop. Vettel was in front and he decided to pit but upon seeing that Schumacher is also turning right behind him in the pits, he made a last second manouveur and turned left, leaving Schumacher to suddenly cut across from behind. This revelation from RBR was enough to let the 7-time champion go scott free who had already been penalized €2500 for improper entry to the pits during Friday practice.
– As far as Webber was concerned, the Aussie made it clear that although he was released from the pits, he knew Massa was coming and he gave the Brazilian sufficient room to turn in to his Ferrari garage. The Red Bull driver kept running straight instead and turned in the fast lane only after Massa had gone past.
Do you still think Heikki’s penalty is unjustified? Do you think Webber and Schumacher should also be penalized?