Interesting to hear the general reaction of bemusement to the drive-through penalty handed to Felipe Massa after the Ferrari man’s latest tangle with Lewis Hamilton in the Indian Grand Prix.
For those of you who didn’t see the incident, Hamilton tried a passing move at a fairly quick left-hander at the Buddh International Circuit. He got a significant portion of his McLaren down the inside of the Ferrari, only for Massa to claim the racing line into the fifth-gear and make contact with Hamilton’s car.
The incident effectively ruined both of their races – Hamilton had to stop to replace a damaged nose section, Massa was penalised for causing an avoidable incident. Few paddock experts agreed with the penalty doled out to the Brazilian. BBC commentator Martin Brundle deemed it a ‘racing incident’, and I agree the stewards should have adjudged it so.
I believe the current system of mid-race penalties is hugely flawed, and I wonder what positive effect it is having on the racing. I don’t reckon there is any more or less contact in races than before the system of in-race penalties and expert stewards was introduced. If anything, drivers are less inclined to ‘have a go’, and we are developing a ‘cult of officialdom’ similar to football, where a questionable decision by the stewards can taint a race.
One of the problems for Massa on Sunday is that he was clearly seen looking in his mirrors on the run to the corner, so it could be assumed that he was aware where Hamilton was on the track. In such a situation F1 drivers usually argue (with some justification) that they can’t see much in their tiny mirrors while traveling at 180mph.
If that really is the case, it is time for the FIA to specify much larger mirrors in next year’s rules. Go-faster boosts such as DRS and KERS mean that closing speeds between cars are much higher than ever before, and if the driver in front is claiming little high-speed awareness of a following driver approaching, surely that poses a worrying safety risk?