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Why Schumacher broke the rules in Monaco

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Andrew Benson | 11:26 UK time, Monday, 17 May 2010

What is it about Michael Schumacher and Monaco?

The German legend will forever be inextricably linked with the principality and, to some extent, it is for all the wrong reasons.

For all the brilliance Schumacher has displayed around one of Formula 1's most demanding circuits throughout his career, it is the controversy he has created there that makes the headlines.

In 2006, the final year of his first spell in F1, he was involved in one of the biggest scandals of his career when he deliberately parked his Ferrari at Rascasse corner, clumsily trying to make it look like he had made a mistake, and prevented his title rival Fernando Alonso, then at Renault, from beating him to pole position.

Now back in F1 after a three-year retirement, and driving for Mercedes, Schumacher was again at the centre of controversy in Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix. Just a few metres further on from his infamous 2006 stunt, he snatched sixth place from Alonso, now Ferrari's lead driver, into the final corner of the race.

That move was later ruled illegal by the race stewards, a decision that Schumacher's Mercedes team have decided to appeal against.

In the best traditions of F1, that decision itself has generated enormous controversy.

And there was a delicious irony that one of the four stewards was Damon Hill, Schumacher's former arch-rival on the track.

Typically, the row centres around a part of the F1 rule book that, while its intent is clear, leaves room for interpretation.

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Article 40.13 of the Formula 1 sporting regulations states: "If the race ends while the safety car is deployed it will enter the pit lane at the end of the last lap and the cars will take the chequered flag as normal without overtaking."

Clearly, the rule is meant to be read as meaning that if the safety car is out during the final lap then, although it will pull into the pits before the end of the lap, the cars will proceed to the finish line without being allowed to overtake.

The reason the rule exists is simply because it looks better on television not to have the safety car crossing the line in front of the racing cars.

But the problem is that it can be argued by clever people - and they do not come much cleverer than Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn - that the meaning of the rule is clouded by the initial sub-clause: "If the race ends while the safety car is deployed..."

Brawn's argument is that because the safety car had pulled into the pits, the race was back on, and Schumacher was therefore permitted to overtake Alonso once they had passed what is known as the "safety car line".

This line, which is painted across the track before the final corner, is a new development this year.

Previously, when a race was restarted after a safety car period, the cars were not allowed to overtake until they had crossed the finish line at the start of the next lap.

From this year, though, they can now start to race once they pass this line, which at Monaco was on the exit of the Rascasse hairpin as the cars begin the climb up to the final corner, Anthony Noghes.

Those who wrote the rules would argue that the reason Brawn's interpretation is wrong is that the only time article 40.13 can possibly apply is if the safety car is out at the beginning of the last lap.

In that event, the safety car will pull in to the pit lane, for aforementioned aesthetic reasons, at the end of the lap. But the fact that it is in the pit lane is irrelevant - it is still effectively controlling the cars because article 40.13 says they cannot overtake.

Brawn and Schumacher argued that at this point green flags were displayed, meaning they were able to race.

But the rule-makers would say that is the case every time the safety car pulls in. The reason for it is to let all the drivers know, wherever they are on the track, that the safety car has pulled in. But they are still not allowed to overtake until the specified point - which on the last lap means not at all.

This interpretation was shared by all the team managers bar that of Mercedes - I understand that upon seeing Schumacher's move every single one of them got in touch with race director Charlie Whiting to say it was not allowed.

It was also clearly shared by the stewards.

But many an F1 rule has fallen down on the difference between intent and interpretation.

Brawn is a persuasive man, and he has won many battles in the court of appeal of F1's governing body the FIA. Mercedes' lawyers will doubtless field all their arguments convincingly. And they could easily win this one, too.

A final thought. There are those questioning Hill's objectivity in all of this, suggesting that he was taking his chance to get back at Schumacher for things that had gone on in the past between them - particularly when Schumacher took him out to win the drivers' championship at the 1994 Australian Grand Prix.

I have to say that I find that ridiculous, and not just because he was only one among four race stewards.

I know Hill well. His integrity is beyond reproach and he is a thoroughly honest man.

I was in touch with him last night, and while he recognised the humour inherent in the situation, he said after he had heard the arguments from those involved: "Believe me, my only concern is that the right thing is done. If that was the case consistently, things would be better. But there was a wry smile from Michael."

UPDATE 20 MAY, 1510 BST: In the wake of the FIA's decision to reasses article 40.13, some new information has emerged that I wanted to let you know about.

It turns out that the other teams were not quite as clear-cut about Schumacher's move not being allowed as I had been led to believe on Monday.

I am told that of the six teams with drivers in the top 10, three of them told their drivers they could overtake, two of them said the race was effectively over and they could not, and one of them said they could race, but not overtake.

Which all goes to show that the decision to review the rule is the right thing to do.

In that context, though, perhaps the FIA should go a step further and reinstate Schumacher into seventh place. The move may have been in contravention of the intent of the rules. But it seems unfair that he should be penalised for breaking a rule that, the governing body has now effectively admitted, it was impossible to know for sure what that rule meant.


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  • Comment number 1.

    I agree the correct decision was made, however in Australia 09 the same scenario occured but on this occasion the marshall's continued to hold out the SC boards and yellow flags when the safety car peeled into the pit lane as Jenson took the chequered flag, this time green flags were shown and the SC boards removed (can be clearly seen from various onboards)

    Ross Brawn could assume the safety car was entering the pit lane because the track was clear (which it was as the 2 cars had been removed) and not because of article 40.13.

    I believe that article was a 'left over' from the previous safety car rule and should be ammended in future.

  • Comment number 2.

    Andrew, no offence, but you are wrong. No one is debating the rule you quoted- that is clear for the teams and drivers. The only issue is the status of the track- did the race finish under safety car conditions. As shown by Ross Brawn, it did not. There were green flags out and no SC boards. Now- cast your mind back to Australia 09- this race finished under SC conditions. I have images here, if you need further proof, that shows the safety car pulling in and then jenson crossing the line with with yellow flags and sc boards out. Hence that race finished under SC conditions. Monaco finished under racing conditions and therfore michael was entitled to pass. You are wrong, and i thing the appeal ruling will confirm this.

  • Comment number 3.

    Maybe so Andrew, but the green flags do generate ambiguity: in that case it would seem more consistent to wave yellow flags to the finish line, regardless. The present situation does leave too much room to ambiguity and there are strong arguments in support of both sides, so the 20s penalty looks too heavy handed and not entirely supported by the alleged illegality of it all. If you get the message 'clear to race' under green flags then it looks as if you are free to overtake. I see the current procedure more as an FIA mistake/oversight and they are the ones who must rectify it, not Mercedes.

  • Comment number 4.

    I wonder if Mercedes would have complained if Ferrari had passed them instead?

  • Comment number 5.

    I agree with post 3, it was a FIA mistake/oversight to wave green flags because it contradicted what happened in Australia 09 under the same circumstances, however as the regulations currently stand article 40.13 states no overtaking on the final lap if the safety car is out (whatever circumstances the stewards can ALWAYS relate to that regulation)

  • Comment number 6.

    Yeah I also agree with Brendan:

    "No one is debating the rule you quoted- that is clear for the teams and drivers. The only issue is the status of the track- did the race finish under safety car conditions. As shown by Ross Brawn, it did not. There were green flags out and no SC boards. Now- cast your mind back to Australia 09- this race finished under SC conditions. I have images here, if you need further proof, that shows the safety car pulling in and then jenson crossing the line with with yellow flags and sc boards out. Hence that race finished under SC conditions. Monaco finished under racing conditions and therfore michael was entitled to pass. You are wrong, and i thing the appeal ruling will confirm this."

  • Comment number 7.

    The rule is clear (and sensible) however the way it was applied - green flags, track clear - is confusing. The fact that the track was declared clear surely means that the race is on once past the safety car line.

    A clarification for future races will prevent a recurrence, however Mercedes should win their appeal and the FIA should be slapped for needlessly allowing yet more controversy into F1. No-one wants to win a race or a place in the courtroom, racing should happen on the track.

    As to Damon deliberately finding against Michael - ridiculous, the man has integrity beyond question.

  • Comment number 8.

    #2 Brendan

    It's not quite as clear cut as that. In Australia 09 the safety car rules dictated that you were not allowed to overtake until you had crossed the start finish line - so the yellow flags and SC board would have remained in place until the end of the race.

    From this year, this has changed, so that you can overtake after the first safety car line which is further back from the start finish line. So, after this line, the green flags would wave and there would be no SC board.

    This situation is very ambiguous, and is a left-over from the previous version of the rules - but the fact that there were green flags and no SC boards doesn't mean that overtaking was allowed in this instance.

    I do however think this is a stupid rule, and should be changed immediately to prevent this happening in future.

  • Comment number 9.

    I agree with Brendan. Having worked at lot in the World Rally Championship and having had my fair share of meetings with stewards, I reckon I've got a reasonable understanding of FIA regs, etc.

    I had a good look at thesection you refer to and with your interpretation, you are correct. However, the crucial matter was that Race Control said Safety Car In, not that the race would finish under yellow flags. The Safety Car did all it should when it comes, in, i.e. lights off, green flags were then shown and the SC boards removed. Therefore, the cars were under racing conditions.

    If the rcae was to finish under the Safety Car, the yellows would have stayed on, boards out, etc. and the cars would have gone on in convoy. The fact that the track was clear, also lends to the fact that the race was finished under green flag conditions.

    I do believe the rules are ambiguous here and both interpretations are open to be debated. Clearly the rule with the new SC line wasn't modified properly to take this into account.

    Under the circumstances, a fairere punishment, if that was deemed to be necessary, would have been to reverse Alonso and Schumachers' places.

    As for the conspiracy theorists over Damon - ridiculous!

  • Comment number 10.

    If the track was still subject to safety car conditions and it pealed off into the pits as part of that process, why allow a green flag to be shown indicating 'The track is now clear, and drivers may proceed at racing speed and may again overtake'? Surely yellow flags and SC boards should have continued to be displayed?
    This kind of ambiguity makes a mockery of the sport and to actually penalise Schumacher for this is a disgrace.

  • Comment number 11.

    A wrong interpretation and a wrong decision of the court mustn’t cause damage to anyone. Sumi got the green (it was the wrong interpretation and the wrong decision) so all he did was just to follow the decision.

    Other example: according to tax law you are expected to pay 10.000 pounds. The court of first instance makes a mistake and says you don’t have to pay. The court of the second instance says no you have to pay 10.000 pounds plus 30.000 ponds because you followed the instruction of the court of first instance. Ridiculous and nonsense!

    If it is not clear enough let’s take an example of football. The referee let the striker score from offside so the final result is 1:0. After the match the supervisor board says that according to the rules it was offside so the striker should have stopped and he and his team gets a 0:3 penalties.

  • Comment number 12.

    #2, Andrew is indeed correct on this matter as the fundamental difference between the situation in Australia 2009 and Monaco 2010 is the introduction of the 'safety car line'. In Australia 2009 overtaking was not permitted until the start/finish line and as the safety car peeled off before the end of the final lap there it was not possible for anyone to overtake Button. In 2010, overtaking is permitted after the safety car line.

  • Comment number 13.

    "[G]reen flags were displayed, [which] is the case every time the safety car pulls in. The reason for it is to let all the drivers know, wherever they are on the track, that the safety car has pulled in."

    Not so. Whether or not the safety car is on the track is not a consideration.

    The display of green flags is to inform drivers that safety car conditions persist until cars next pass the point beyond which overtaking is permitted - in Monaco, the decision to place this designated point earlier in the lap than the finish line means that Meredecs GP got it right.

    The fact that all other teams thought otherwise doesn't make them right; as has been demonstrated on occasiona almost without number, F1 is not a democracy. (Call me a cynic, but I smell payback for Brawn stealing a march on almost the entire field over the double diffuser last year: ample demonstration of the fact that Ross's team are better at reading rulebooks than most/all other team principals.)

  • Comment number 14.


    I meant Mercedes, of course.

  • Comment number 15.

    Andrew - To back up the following comments you missed the point of why Schumacher and Brawn felt it right to race? At the Aus GP last year (which finished under a safety car) why were the SC boards and yellow flags still waved, where as in Monaco Green flags were displayed?

    Simply, this is an FIA cockup because the rules under the safety car have changed this year and they have bought the line forward before the last corner. They didn't think of this occurance.

    To punish Schumacher 20 secs is wrong they should have simply apologised for the cock up and put him behind Alonso.

  • Comment number 16.

    For the safety car to come in, i.e. not be deployed 3 things will change:
    The lights will be extinguished on the car
    Yellow flags + S.C. boards go to green flags
    The safety car in this lap message will be displayed on the timing boards.

    All three of these were done suggesting that the safety car was no longer deployed at the end of the race. If green flags were waved across the line when Webber crossed it then that is not finishing with the S.C. deployed!

    The only issue comes with the phrasing at the end of 40.13. The rule says that the race will finish as normal. This isnt clear if it means normal conditions - green flags etc but no overtaking. However if the safety car is out then it makes no sense to have green flags and no boards meaning safety car deployed. On top of this the debris seemed to have been cleared suggesting that racing would be allowable.

    It is going to be close on appeal and that final phrasing of under normal conditions, along with the need for the car to be deployed at the end, is where mercedes battle will be won or lost.

  • Comment number 17.

    I can see this form both sides - as much as I hate to see Schumacher doing well (never liked the guy and the boring races he made for watching- not to mention his apparent unfairness), I do not wish to see him unfairly treated either. It is clear that there is a misinterpretation of the rules, and that this is not a simple case of Schumacher and Brawn cheating. The best scenario for all (I beleive), if the move was illegal, is not to impose a 20s penalty but to demote MSC and promote Alonso 1 place as it were before the move. The fact that green flags were waving does indicate that the race was back on to me - but think that this would be the fairest outcome rather than penalising MSC more than neccesary.

  • Comment number 18.

    the FIA changed the rule for the safety car line, but its seems they forgot about other rules that my affect thr ruling in question.

    Way too heavy handed on punishment and Schumacher is in the right!!!!! for once :)

    FIA should be ashamed and I hope Damon Hill didn't have any input into this cause he should know better and the fact that it is Schumacher shouldn't change a decision.

  • Comment number 19.

    funny how you make it sound as mercedes are twisting the rules.
    did you watch the race?? the race did NOT end under the safety car, that is the point, argument and proof mercedes are showing. for the last two corners the safety car was no longer 'deployed' and track conditions were resumed to racing (GREEN FLAG).
    if the race was still under safety car conditions for the end of the race the saftey car would have STILL pulled in the pits at that point BUT the yellow flags and SC markers would have stayed out, as in Australia last season.
    Mercedes were on the ball! and Fernando was also racing, sideways!

  • Comment number 20.

    I think the decision was absolutely wrong, cars were obviously not under SC conditions for all the reasons mentioned above.

    However speaking of integrity of Damon Hill... While it's hard to believe that he would let personal grievances cloud judgement on such clear matter I'd like to point out that he is in the panel to give _drivers' view_ i.e. to point out the cases where penalties should be applied not by the letter if there is good reason for that. How about overtaking a car when green flags are being waved? That sounds to me like good enough reason to consider alternative punishment even if it's decided that SC conditions still applied. But now it turns out that on the lap when no overtaking was allowed, Schumacher lost 5 places.

  • Comment number 21.

    When McLaren appealed against a time penalty given in lieu of a drive-through at Spa, the appeal was rejected as inadmissible because drive-throughs cannot be appealed...

  • Comment number 22.

    @4. At 11:57am on 17 May 2010, Paul Darley wrote:
    I wonder if Mercedes would have complained if Ferrari had passed them instead?

    Probably. But Ferrari would then appeal that complaint, so your comment is of no consequence.

  • Comment number 23.

    I think that both Ferrari and Mercedes had valid arguments about whether there should have been a punishment or not as the rule is open to interpretation and will surely be reworded now to avoid a similar thing happening in future.

    The punishment is harsh purely because Schumacher had green flags and no SC boards so thought he was in the right, so it appears more of a mistake of the rule makers leaving the situation to interpretation.

    Also, it is different to Aus 09 because of the rule change to the safety car line not the start/finish line.

    A more appropriate decision would have been to just swap Alonso and Schumacher back to 6th and 7th, not Schumacher having a 20s penalty.

  • Comment number 24.

    I have still not seen or heard a single comment that agrees that Schumacher should be penalised, and Alonso should have the 6th place finish. This is a pretty conclusive agreement from the F1 spectators, expecially considering the amount of hatred towards Schumacher under normal conditions. I myself am not a big fan of his, but completely agree that his overtake should stand. Why are the FIA constantly searching for solutions to increase overtaking, then penalising those who manage, what was quite frankly, a genius, and exciting move?

    The least the FIA could do is admit there is a degree of ambiguity in the rules. That way, even if the rules stand as the FIA read them(ie no overtaking on the last lap), schumacher should not be viewed as committing an offence, and at the very worst demote him back to 7th. It seems ridiculous that a driver can work tirelessly over 77 laps, and due to some ambiguity in the rules, this be erased from the scoreboards.

  • Comment number 25.

    To all those who say the race did not finish under safety car conditions, I refer you to the part in the blog where I talk about this. I quote:

    "Brawn and Schumacher argued that at this point green flags were displayed, meaning they were able to race.

    "But the rule-makers would say that is the case every time the safety car pulls in. The reason for it (ie, the green flags) is to let all the drivers know, wherever they are on the track, that the safety car has pulled in. But they are still not allowed to overtake until the specified point - which on the last lap means not at all.

    "This interpretation was shared by all the team managers bar that of Mercedes - I understand that upon seeing Schumacher's move every single one of them got in touch with race director Charlie Whiting to say it was not allowed."

  • Comment number 26.

    It's a shame that there is this grey area in the rules, I do hope that the result stands with MSC in 6th but then again I don't support Ferrari.

    Yet again it Trulli's fault!

  • Comment number 27.

    I love F1, but sometimes it reminds me of an early 1900s country, 1 ruler, a rule book that cannot be changed and harsh punishment. hmmm

    anyway I'll still watch it.

  • Comment number 28.

    Whether the rule was broken doesn't seem to be up for much debate, in my eyes - although I think Schumacher had every right to pass, to the letter of the law it seems that the rules were broken. The rule should be changed, because it is ambiguous given the new rules this year - and the marshals should not have waved green flags if the race was no longer on. As pointed out, in Australia last year, yellow flags were waved right up to the line.

    My main gripe is with the 20 second penalty, which seems extremely harsh for a misinterpretation of the rules. I'd also have more sympathy for Alonso if he didn't have his foot down sideways out of Rascasse, I'm not sure I buy the argument that he'd been told there was just a procession to the finish. Schumacher was at his opportunistic best and was great to see - he didn't deserve to be demoted to 12th. Even if the stewards rule that the overtake was illegal, I would have expected a demotion back to behind Alonso.

    As I understand it, though, Mercedes can't appeal against the penalty, only against the decision itself. A 20 second penalty to Schumacher is a more heinous crime than a single place change for Schumacher and Alonso, so I'd favour Mercedes winning the appeal for that reason.

  • Comment number 29.

    The FIA(Race Director) is responsible for this, they made an error and now Schumacher(MGP) pays for it.
    Look what happened in Australia09 under the same circumstances:

  • Comment number 30.

    Do the FIA regulations give any way to differentiate between the following two scenarios?

    1) Race finishing under safety car conditions
    2) Safety car coming in during the final lap of a race under rule 40.11

    It seems that there is no way for the race teams to determine which of these situations is happening. It can certainly be argued that just because the safety car is coming in at the last possible moment, that doesn't mean that rule 40.13 is in operation.

    As far as I'm concerned Mercedes have a case and Schumacher shouldn't have been punished - but of course the blame is the ambiguous FIA regs, which I'm sure will be clarified before the next race.

  • Comment number 31.

    I agree with Ross Brawn and Michael Schumacher. The rules may state that the safety car will come in on the last lap whilst under safety car conditions and that places cannot change. However the fact is that the race was no longer under saftey car conditions. Green flags were shown and racing should have been allowed to resume.

  • Comment number 32.

    Further to my #13, I note Mr Benson's reference (#25) to the fact that cars "are not allowed to vertake until the specified point".

    But the point at issue is that, at Monaco (as of this year), the "specified point" is no longer the start/finish line!

  • Comment number 33.

    "I know Hill well. His integrity is beyond reproach and he is a thoroughly honest man. "

    This statement in of itself makes your assessment of Hill subjective - not objective.

    Also, Hill was quoted to have said "Believe me my only concern was that the right thing was done, if that was the case consistently things would be better. But there was a wry smile from Michael. Slightly ironic you could say." The first sentence is fine. The second sentence suggests that he could not keep his personal views of Schumacher separate from his duties as race steward. A wry smile or not, it should be irrelevant to the matter at hand. The fact that it is mentioned, suggests, at minimum, a subconscious bias.

    Maybe race stewards should be vetted such that past rivals should not be able to have any influence on decisions. As much as I like Hill, I do not believe he was completely neutral in this case.

    Whichever interpretation is right, the punishment was harsh.

  • Comment number 34.

    Have to agree with Post 2 - Brendan.

    The race did not finish under safety car conditions, the obstruction had been cleared, the Safety Car had pulled in, green flags were waved, and the safety car boards were withdrawn.

    The new rule whereby the Safety car line denotes when you can pass means by definition that as pass could be made as the race was not under safety car conditions.

    You could tell the way everyone floored it to the flag that this was the scenario.

    Compare that to Hakkinen winning in Canada under Safety Car conditions a few years ago (if i remember) where he slowly coasted over the line, with everyone following in order, despite the safety car going into the pits beforehand. The distinction is that the race was still under safety car conditions, regardless of whther the safety car was on the track or not.

  • Comment number 35.

    "... every single one of [the team principals, other than Ross Brawn] got in touch with race director Charlie Whiting to say it was not allowed.""

    Wrong way round.

    Charlie (and the stewards) TELL the teams what is and is not allowed, not vice versa.

  • Comment number 36.

    Andrew - You haven't answered the key thing in this case as to why in Australia the race finished under yellow flags and SC boards? Why were these taken down and Green flags displayed this time? What changed??

  • Comment number 37.

    I can understand what you are saying Andrew but have one problem with it:
    If the drivers know the rule then they know that the safety car will come in on the final lap prior to crossing the line despite still being S.C. conditions - which would mean that the greens are unnecessary and the yellow flags and s.c. boards should remain. Not having them leads to confusion and suggesting that the S.C. conditions have ended (as stated in the the FIA regs)
    If the drivers don't know the rule then waving green flags will make them assume it is safe to race again and therefore very unclear and considerable mitigating circumstances.

    Either way you look at it the information the drivers recieved would cause confusion if we assume that the safety car was still deployed. If we were to take the instance that s.c. conditions were removed - the car isnt deployed - its lights are out, no s.c. boards and yellow flags, safety car in was displayed on the screens. In that circumstance the action of waving the green flags maks sense and the race did not finish under safety car conditions. In that case the pass was legal. The issue isnt the last lap start with the safety car, it is whether it was still deployed when webber crossed the line.

  • Comment number 38.

    "But the rule-makers would say that is the case every time the safety car pulls in. The reason for it (ie, the green flags) is to let all the drivers know, wherever they are on the track, that the safety car has pulled in. But they are still not allowed to overtake until the specified point - which on the last lap means not at all.

    "This interpretation was shared by all the team managers bar that of Mercedes - I understand that upon seeing Schumacher's move every single one of them got in touch with race director Charlie Whiting to say it was not allowed."

    Andrew, that's highly debatable, I think that's the point of the whole discussion. It's an interpretation that can be argued both ways: I think the lesson to be taken from this instance is that - as things are at the moment - it does look too ambiguous and must be rectified. And MS's penalty revised, probably just swap places.

    Furthermore, I would not take the view of the team managers as frame of reference, as each and everyone of them who found himself in Ross' position would argue that the move was perfectly legitimate.

  • Comment number 39.

    ok, if the rule 40.13 stays then surely there should be a new flag to tell the drivers that there no passing on last lap. i agree when drivers see a green flag, that mean free to race, and yellow means slow/caution etc.

    i am neither MSC/ALO/Merc/Ferrari fan

  • Comment number 40.

    Well if Schumi is to be punished then so should Webber. Speeding in the pit lane and they threw a 2,200 Euro fine at him when I'm 99% sure the regulations dictate he should have a 20-second penalty applied to his time.

  • Comment number 41.

    Either way, Schumacher shouldn't be penalised.

    The team told him he could try for a pass (as Ross Brawn admitted they told both Drivers) and the ambiguity in the rules means that you can't blame the Driver, or even the Team come to think of it.

    A good race for Schuey and a shame that he hasn't got the points he deserved.

  • Comment number 42.

    40.13 is an interesting rule, in that it (in my view) doesn't actually make sense, which is why there are different interpretations!

    It's the "if the race ends while the safety car is deployed" bit that is causing the problems - it's begging the question. Surely it would be better to change the order of the words, to make it unambiguous: "If the safety car is deployed at the end of the last lap, it will enter the pit lane and the cars will take the chequered flag as normal without overtaking"

  • Comment number 43.

    Schumacher seems to have been punished due to mistakes on the part of race officials.

    They should reinstate him to 7th and just be done with it.

  • Comment number 44.

    Much has been said of the soon to be infamous 40.13 rule but while you can argue Mercedes and Schumacher played to what they thought was the rules with the green flags etc, it can also be argued that Ferrari also read the rules as what is stated.

    The crucial thing in this rule is it says the cars will take to the finish line WITHOUT overtaking. Whether it is a mistake that it has been left in there does not matter. It is an FIA regulation that Ferrari raced to and according to the reaction of other team bosses, all other teams raced to as well.

    Both teams have strong cases which is why I agree with a few who think Alonso and Schumacher should just get 6th and 7th places repectivley, followed by a quick re-write of that rule.

    On the subject of this new white line where cars can pass before the finish line, I think it looks a little dangerous. It's only going to be a matter of time before somebody who thinks they are going to lose a place brake tests before it thus potentially causing a big accident or/and enforcing what would be an unfair penalty on an overtaking car.

  • Comment number 45.

    Got to say as well that, it was pretty dangerous driving from Trulli which caused that S.C to be deployed.

    I doubt there will be a punishment cause Mark Webber in Australia was the worst driver I have ever seen when he totaled Lewis.

  • Comment number 46.

    Never mind, apparently it was pre-race. My own stupidity there, and a lesson learned; research my posts better!

  • Comment number 47.

    I feel the stewards have said the overtake was wrong to protect their embaressment. There was a genuine, clever interpretation of the rules, and everyone else is jumping out of their pram. This is the point surely - in every aspect of F1 the teams make clever interpretations of the rules to beat the competition.

    Ross was right. He is a clever man who was on the spot immediately with the evidence. Either he was right or the 'rules' are wrong. If so then put MS back to 6th - a 20sec penalty is too harsh.

    BTW. I'm no MS fan, but this time they were clever, and that deserves a reward.

  • Comment number 48.

    Alonso's tyres were pretty much done, and both Schumacher and Brawn were well aware of this. Alonso tried to defend and got nothing but wheel-spin, backed off a little and Schumi took full advantage. Make no mistake, Alonso was racing, only when he got beat, did Ferrari start the mud slinging. Lame!
    Don't buy Damon Hill and the race steward's explanation either, it's lame. A precedent was set in 09 Australia, period.
    The race was live, because there were no yellow flags waving. We want more overtaking, with the big boys taking lumps out of each other, not just beating down on the hopeless back-markers.
    Alonso and Massa claim ignorance, simply to bolster Ferrari's lame argument. It's pathetic!
    Alonso dove under Massa in the entrance to the pit lane, of all places; which is a greater crime, in my mind, as it wasn't even done on the track. Amazingly, no penalties were dished out.
    Smells like a witch hunt and it stinks!

  • Comment number 49.

    Outrageous call...

    Clearly the organisers messed up by sending out the messages, "Track Clear" and "Safety car in this lap". These messages coupled with the fact there were green flags waving and everyone was gunning it says the race is on.

    They should have sent out something like "Race will finish under safety car conditions, hold position."

    After realising this they should have said "sorry our mistake" and at worst switched Alonso back to 6th and Schumi back to 7th. Instead they slap a 20 sec pen on Schumacher for racing under green flag conditions and pulling off a brilliantly opportunistic move on a 2 time World Champion. Unbelievable...

    I'm not even a Schumi fan but the penalty is just ridiculous and goes against the spirit of the true race result. They were disputing 6th and 7th, why the guys behind should benefit is beyond me.

  • Comment number 50.

    I'm pretty sure Mercedes have this wrong, and now Schumi is getting penalised for it. If the rules state that the final lap ends as normal, minus over taking, then green flags will be deployed as that is 'normal'

    I do think 20 seconds is a tad harsh and I think that will be reduced at the hearing, taking into consideration the rules are new this year.

    This does remind me of a few years back when Schumacher over took Raikkonen under yellow flags because he went a bit wide due to the oil on the track, and Schumacher was allowed to keep the place that time.

  • Comment number 51.

    A Green flag should mean one thing and one thing only 'The track is now clear, and drivers may proceed at racing speed and may again overtake'last lap or not. If the track was still under safety car conditions, yellow flags and SC boards should have continued to be displayed.

  • Comment number 52.

    I have followed Indycar racing for many years which most of all the "new" innovations over the past few years for formula 1 have come from.
    Refuelling/ Safety cars/ Push to pass etc.

    I don't understand why the so called safety car pulled into the pit lane on the actual last lap. This seems a bit stupid. If the race was to finish under safety car rules, surely the safety car should have stayed on track to cross the finish line with the race cars in formation behind it.
    We can see the reaction of the drivers when the safety car pulled off. The Red Bull team mates raced each other to the line and in fact Martin Brundle in commentary indicated that there would be a dash for the line with overtaking allowed once passed the safety car line.

    I think Schumacher was hard done by.

  • Comment number 53.

    Schumacher and Brawn were right, they merely took advantage of the situation and the other teams' stupidity.

    They are being punished for being right, entertaining and making a mockery out of the silly rules... something Ferrari International Assistance (FIA) are going to punish them with. I agree with previous posters on their sour grapes with Brawn's double diffuser and Hill's (minimum subconscious) bias against Schumi.

    Here at Mercedes we are livid and fully expect the appeal to be successful.

  • Comment number 54.

    Having seen plenty of dubious FIA decisions over the past few years, for once I think there is good reason for discussion.

    For me, the stewards made the correct decision at the time, as there appears to be a rule that has been broken. Also, if (when...) Mercedes appeal, and if the decision is overturned, I would see that as the correct thing to do also.

    My point is, the ruling under question is a subtle point, a matter of interpretation of the rules, and once clarified will no longer be an issue. Unlike decisions about overtaking manoeuvres carried out under full racing conditions, in this case there is no interpretation required (whether a sufficient advantage was gained or not by cutting this corner, etc).

    I believe the discussions this incident has created are actually good for the sport: it's got people talking (crucially, not about the objectivity of the FIA), and once a final decision has been made we can all move on. Aside from seeing your team/driver win, surely events worth discussing are the reason people watch sport to begin with.

  • Comment number 55.

    Green flags equate to racing conditions and the new rule this year means you can overtake before the start/finish line, thus Schumacher's overtake was correct. This is not ambiguous at all.

    If the yellow flags and SC boards were still out (as I suspect they should've been) then no overtake would have taken place.

  • Comment number 56.

    This is like comparing the pros and cons of a codified and uncodified constitution. In this case, the rigidity of the rules and the punishment meted out is clearly too harsh, but if the rules say so then there's not a lot the FIA can do. However,they should maybe introduce common sense into misinterpretations such as this case, seeing as it's the rule makers who have caused Mercedes to misinterpret the rules.

  • Comment number 57.

    The decision was a triumph of nitpicking over common sense. On any other lap the move would've been allowed - and since there were green flags (NOT yellow coupled with SC boards) the move was also allowed in the final lap.

    And a question, which Martin Brundle posed as well: What if the leader ran out of petrol or encountered any other mechanical problem that forced him to stop before the finish line? Would everyone else have had to grind to a halt behind him, without overtaking him and crossing the finish line?

  • Comment number 58.

    Post 30 by Gareth Adams is spot on.

  • Comment number 59.

    The rules should be clarified and Schumacher given his 7th place finish back.

  • Comment number 60.

    As a follow up, the fact that people are debating the interpretation of "normal" should be enough for the FIA to acknowledge that this is a poorly written section of the rules. The positions of Alonso/Schumacher should be put back to 6th & 7th and the rules clarified.

    I fear that that will not take place as this will involve the FIA admitting they got something wrong...

  • Comment number 61.

    You say, "CLEARLY, the rule is meant to be read as meaning that if the safety car IS OUT DURING THE FINAL LAP then, although it will pull into the pits before the end of the lap, the cars will proceed to the finish line without being allowed to overtake" but this is not clear at all and if it were the intent, why doesn't the rule put it in these terms?

    The problem is the rule does not clearly define when it should apply:

    “40.13: If the race ENDS WHILST the safety car IS DEPLOYED it will enter the pit lane at the end of the last lap and the cars will take the chequered flag as normal without overtaking”

    Problem with this is that bringing the safety car ‘in’ makes it unclear what constitutes a safety car DEPLOYED WHILST the race ENDS. Is it:

    a) literally a safety car still ‘deployed on track’ when the race ends (e.g. behind leader but in front of others)?

    b) a safety car that, were it not for Rule 40.13, would still be deployed on track as the race ended because the ‘danger’ is not cleared? (Presumably, for safety, yellow flags still needed even after SC enters pits?)

    c) a safety car that has pulled off into the pits during the last lap because the ‘danger’ has cleared? (Yellow flags not needed for safety so use green) – but if there’s no SC on track and no danger – how is this a safety car deployed whilst the race ends?

    So, the rule fails to clearly define when it should be used so one must then rely on clear instructions from race control and/or the normal, unambiguous meaning of flags & SC notices, i.e. yellow = danger (SC still ‘deployed’) as in Australia 09; green = danger cleared (SC no longer ‘deployed’).

    Also, if the decision stands, it seems unsafe to change the normal meaning of the SC yellow & green flags depending on what lap you’re on – after a long race, drivers might not always be aware exactly what lap it is (if telemetry/radio down) so how do they know if the SC going in with green flags means 'danger cleared' or 'danger still present but it's the last lap'?

    (Lap dependent flag meanings at the start of the race (going to the grid/parade laps) are less unsafe as hopefully all drivers will know exactly what lap it is - unless they're got a REALLY bad memory!!!:-) )

  • Comment number 62.

    On the subject of the rule, it would appear that this leaves room for a lot of ambiguity. Regardless of the interpretation of the rule, the correct procedure's conflict. If this happened one lap earlier it would be considered that they were under racing conditions be it at the end of lap 77 or lap 78.

    The written rule indicates one of trying to close off the intention of overtaking on the final 300 yards of the lap, but it doesn't give enough emphasis on the correct actions, and in this case Schumacher has done what he has seen is right, and Alonso has done as he feels is right. As is always the case with a victim and a benefactor.

    The FIA should not feel 'ashamed' because of this mistake, grey areas exist in all cases of law or rules which are not written intentionally, but when such an incident falls into the grey area then precedent must prevail. However, in this instance there is no precedent because of the new 'safety car line' introduced for 2010.

    Regarding Damon Hill's position, he is there as a race steward 'advisor' and in that capacity only. He has been retired for 11 years and the fabled race in Adelaide was 16 years ago, there is no question on Damon's neutrality here. If that was the case, then surely there should be no former racing driver advisors being in place because there will always be the 'history' overbearing any decision. It is ludicrous to accuse Damon of bias when he is only one of a panel of stewards, of which a majority MUST be gained before reaching any decision. Therefore there would have been other stewards who beleived Schumacher fell foul of article 40.13!

    In this case, I would see Messrs Schumacher & Brawn appealing on grounds that the Green flag indicated racing conditions once they had passed the safety car line. They will argue that because the yellow flags & SC boards were removed, that it can be interpretted that you may race to the line. I can see this being upheld by the FIA court of appeal so that Schumachers overtake is legal. Subsequent to this the rule will be ammended and procedure reviewed so that in future instances, the yellow flags & SC boards will remain until the last car has passed the finish line.

  • Comment number 63.

    It was interesting to see the conviction with which ex-drivers like Coulthard and Brundle backed the move, too.

  • Comment number 64.

    This article is very wrong, along with the stewards decision. You seem to think that just because the safety car started the final lap that Article 40.13 applies, this is incorrect according to the way it is written.

    Article 40.13 applies when the safety car is out on the final lap and the crash has not been cleared. The safety car comes in, however the race is still under SC conditions and yellow flags and SC boards are waved up until the S/F line and no overtaking may occur, as happened in Australia 2009.

    Article 40.13 did not apply yesterday because the crash was cleared on the final lap, race control gave the message that the safety car was coming in and the track was clear. Unlike Australia 2009, green flags were waved after the safety car line, therefore the race was no longer in safety car conditions and Schumacher was allowed to overtake.

  • Comment number 65.

    This appears to be another case where the rules are different on the last lap from every other race lap. Why has the safety car line been moved back to before the start line if the drivers are not allowed to start racing and overtaking from that point. Also as has been pointed out the green flags were being waved from that point on to the finish line which usually means that the drivers are able to race as normal. As was said during the F1 Forum yesterday what would happen if for example Webber had crashed on the Anthony Noges corner, would the race have been stopped at that point or all drivers penalised by 20 seconds for passing the crashed car?

  • Comment number 66.

    To all those of you who seem to think I am saying there is no problem with the rule, I would refer you to the relevant parts of the article, namely:

    "Typically, the row centres around a part of the F1 rule book that, while its intent is clear, leaves room for interpretation."


    "But many an F1 rule has fallen down on the difference between intent and interpretation.

    "Brawn is a persuasive man, and he has won many battles in the court of appeal of F1's governing body the FIA. Mercedes' lawyers will doubtless field all their arguments convincingly. And they could easily win this one, too."

    I am simply reporting, after speaking to senior people within F1, why the stewards came to the decision that they did and why Schumacher's move broke the rules as they are meant to be interpreted. I make it perfectly clear that there is room for debate because of the way the rule is written, and that the judgement could be overturned.

  • Comment number 67.

    Why do some people keep going on about what happened in Australia last year? As the rules have changed this year, what happened last year is completely irrelevant.

    However, I agree the new rule needs clarification but I think Ross Brawn's interpretation of it was wrong on this occasion. That being said a 20-second penalty is a bit harsh when the cars have finished virtually line astern because the safety car had been deployed for the last couple of laps or so. Reinstating Alonso to 6th and putting Schumacher back down to 7th would be more sensible.

    Talking of Schumacher, does anyone know why he's still referred to as "MSC" when the abbreviations of the drivers' names are put on screen, eg when showing the running order? I presume he was initially called MSC to avoid confusion with his brother, who was RSC if I recall correctly, but now that Ralf is no longer in F1 why can't Schumacher be "SCH"?

  • Comment number 68.

    There is just one thing influencing this decision and that is ferrari.
    it seems like they are the FIA.
    In the liegate scandal, it was Mclaren who owned up yet they got punished for something that an ex ferrari mecanic (who schumacher ran over once) nigel stepney did.
    Spa 2009, they got Lewis a 25 second penalty because he gained an advantage for cutting the chicane. It should have been irelavent as Riakenen repassed him when hamilton almost ran into the back of rosberg later in the lap allowing raikenen to repass. and to cap it all off raikenen binned it in the wall and they protested even though the actual pass should have been void as it didn't effect the outcome of the race as raikenen never finished.

    Now this comes from ferrari. it was no suprise to me when they protested, and no suprise when schumacher got a penalty.
    the move is legal.
    the safety cars lights went out, green flags waved, the message was given safety car in this lap.
    that signals that the track is clear and normal racing will resume.
    Article 40.13 of the Formula 1 sporting regulations states: "If the race ends while the safety car is deployed it will enter the pit lane at the end of the last lap and the cars will take the chequered flag as normal without overtaking."
    but the race wasn't ending with the safety car deployed or the lights would still be on and yellow flags waved. this shows that the race did not end under safety car conditions.
    therfore there should be no arguement.
    but i guess it all comes down to ferrari being ferrari.

  • Comment number 69.

    The punishment does not fit the crime (if there even is a crime) in this occassion. MS should be 7th at worse.

    Ferrari (I am a fan) can say all they like that they told Alonso that racing was over, however it is clear to see that Alonso was racing and he was simply caught napping.

    All 3 BBC pundits gave it to MS and I would agree. The rules have been changed for this season, someone hadn't reviewed them entirely though and it has led to the contradiction/confusion. Why should MS or any driver be punished for FIA's mistakes.

    It did show one thing, MS may have lost some of his edge, but it was still a clever piece of driving...

  • Comment number 70.

    What's clear is that there are two compelling arguments for either outcome on the validity of MS's move. There is clearly a semantic debate which leaves the rule open to discussion. A weight of argument against a penalty exists, not least from the likes Brundle, DC and Jordan. As such, I strongly believe that is not right to impose a penalty and that MS should be given the benefit of the doubt. I would go further to say that I think Alonso wouldn'r complain as he clearly thought he needed to race to the line too.

    I take this viewpoint as I'm getting really fed up of rules and driver agreements continually being anti-racing. This was the only decent move in the race and it was outlawed on a debatable technicality.

    I'm still realing from Hamilton getting a ticking off just fro trying to break someone's tow!! Are the memories of Villeneuve vs Arnoux SO dead and gone?

  • Comment number 71.

    The fact that every team bar Mercedes managed to interpret the rule correctly suggests that this is all a fuss over nothing. The rules are clear and Schumacher broke them.

  • Comment number 72.

    As a few previous posters have stated....if the race was technically 'over' then why did all the cars welly it to the line rather than cruise round the last corner in formation? Webber went gung ho after the restart as he didn't want to be caught on the hop by Vettel.

    Sorry Alonso/Ferrari, but time to take to grow up, you were done by a very clever driver and team boss. I'm not particularly a Schumacher fan but I hope they win the appeal as it was a great, imaginative bit of driving.

  • Comment number 73.

    The rules may well have been broken, but the rules seen rather daft. If the race has effectively ended, and the safety car is just pulling into the pit lane for 'aesthetic reasons', why not just have the safety car continue to the flag to avoid confusion ?
    As David Coulthard said during the post-race analysis - what if the finishing line is a not inconsiderable distance from the pit entrance ? F1 fans will be 'treated' to the not-in-any-way-thrilling 'spectacle' of cars pretending to race to the chequered flag.

    Sometimes I think they just pull the regulations / punishments out of a hat at random ...

  • Comment number 74.

    As with Gareth Adams, it is rule 40.11 that I am looking at. It states;
    40.11 When the clerk of the course decides it is safe to call in the safety car the message "SAFETY CAR IN THIS LAP" will be displayed on the timing monitors and the car's orange lights will be extinguished This will be the signal to the teams and drivers that it will be entering the pit lane at the end of that lap.
    At this point the first car in line behind the safety car may dictate the pace and, if necessary, fall more than ten car lengths behind it.
    In order to avoid the likelihood of accidents before the safety car returns to the pits, from the point at which the lights on the car are turned out drivers must proceed at a pace which involves no erratic acceleration or braking nor any other manoeuvre which is likely to endanger other drivers or impede the restart.
    As the safety car is approaching the pit entry the yellow flags and SC boards will be withdrawn and replaced by waved green flags with green lights at the Line. These will be displayed until the last car crosses the Line.
    This procedure was followed to the letter, albeit on the last lap, and as such indicates that the safety car period was being ended, rather than the safety car coming in due to rule 40.13. The safety car coming in due to rule 40.13 requires no notification as it is laid down that this will happen. In fact to indicate that rule 40.13 applies, then the lights on the safety car should be left illuminated and no notification should be issued.
    As rule 40.11 was being invoked, rule 40.13 does not apply and therefore cannot be breached, and overtaking is permitted from "the Line". (rule 40.7 which states "With the following exceptions, overtaking is forbidden until the cars reach the first safety car line after the safety car has returned to the pits.") The overtake was after "the Line" so neither rule 40.7 nor 40.11 was breached either.

  • Comment number 75.

    Always remember Rule No.0 - The rules do not apply to Farrari, and any rule which diaadvantages Ferrari is liable to reinterpretation regardless of wording or stated intent.

  • Comment number 76.

    Red Andy - if the rules were clear, there would not be a fairly extensive debate going on :-)

    As such, the rules need clarification but not at the cost of a common sense result. We do not need results decided in court rooms (again!).

    I had high hopes having previous drivers on the stewards would help decisions this year but far from it, up to yesterday they were too soft...

  • Comment number 77.

    What I don't understand is why a 20 second penalty? It is clear that this rule is ambiguous, and that both interpretations have their arguments - if they are going to go with the steward's interpretation, why not just put it down to mistake and just put Alonso 6th and Schumy 7th?

    I am not a Schumy fan, never have been, but I think the FIA's interpretation, even if it is correct, is not really in the spirit of racing and should be changed - but there is no need for 20s penalties.

  • Comment number 78.

    I fear that the author had already made his mind up before researching the various points in this post :(

  • Comment number 79.

    I agree with all those who have quite correctly stated that the race was not ending under safety car rules, the two cars had been removed & the track was clear, the only reason the cars could not race was that the safety car was still out. As soon as it pulled in the track being clear, the race was back on and there is no doubt that green flags & lights were being shown.

    The race ends at the finishing line not the safety car line.

    I think the safety car is deployed too easily anyway these days, yellow flags would just as easily do in some of the situations they have pulled the SC out over the last few years.

  • Comment number 80.

    if Alonso had kept his line he would have held Schumi off and that would have been it but Alonso got out of shape that allowed Schumi to pass after the line so I think the result should stand. Damon Hill would have loved sticking it to Schumi.

    Damon Hill - Poor mans Jenson Button!

  • Comment number 81.

    So incensed that I registered so that I could comment!

    1. Simply put, did the safety car come in because the race was ending or because the track was now clear. You can't overtake in the former but you can with the later. The race direction and the green flags say it was the later - I'm sure you can find the rule that green flag says race on!

    2. The rule would be clearer if it said that when the safety car comes in but would have carried on if it wasn't the last lap then the teams will be informed that "safety car conditions still apply". Having the flags green is also an unnecessary confusion - they should stay yellow.

    3. Brawn is right in his assessment. He isn't playing fast-and-loose with the rules as you imply. He has understood the rules and as is so often the case he has understood them better than most. Mercedes should win their appeal.

    4. The penalty is way out of proportion to the crime (if there was one). 20 seconds at the end of the race behind a safety car is tantemount to disqualification. Surely it can not be worse than dangerous driving in the middle of the race?! A grid penalty or financial fine would be more appropriate.

    5. I'm in danger of looking like a Schumacher fan to my Dad, but I just say it as I see it.

    6. It was one of the few pieces of overtaking (ignoring Alonso's moves past ultra-slow cars). Even Hamilton who seems to be able overtake at will at times couldn't manage one. So remind me, just why does F1 "race" at Monaco?

  • Comment number 82.

    'Call Me Dave Will Make Us Free' you are bang on the money.
    nothing applies to ferrari. i wouldn't be suprised if they're brimbing the FIA and stewards.

  • Comment number 83.

    Once again Formula 1 is surrounded by controversy. The FIA have been criticised over the years for not punishing "crimes" committed proportionally.

    Webber fined for speeding not deducted points, Schumaker wiping out Damon Hill to prevent him wining the title, the list if not endless is extensive. Okay this is an argument over 6th and 7th place, but from all the comments the rule and the procedures followed (green flags and removal of SC signs) are ambiguous.

    The responsibility for this lies fully with the FIA. Even if the balance of the argument is towards Alonso (which I think is difficult to maintain) it is then the FIA's responsibility to admit they have not defined the procedures correctly to follow the rules.

    So the crime here has now been committed by the FIA, and instead of applying the letter of the law by deeming in ALonso's favour and inflicting a disproportionate 20s penalty on Shumaker, worse case scenario reverse Shumaker and Alonso. Why should other cars benefit from this FIA cock up.

    If the penalty stands this is another situation for ridicule of Motor Sports governing body. (And I am certainly no Schumaker fan).

  • Comment number 84.

    Simple English apparently eludes most of you here. The rule states:

    "If the race ends while the safety car is deployed it will enter the pit lane at the end of the last lap and the cars will take the chequered flag as normal without overtaking."

    Key points to be noted:

    1) Safety car was out even on the FINAL lap (it wasn't pulled in on the penultimate one)
    2)Rule clearly states the deployed car will enter pit at END OF LAST LAP (and the safety car did do that at the END of lap 78)
    3) Cars will take the chequred flag without overtaking.

    The criterion for the safety car being deployed has been met; safety car was out on final lap, safety car came into pit lane on final lap, overtaking is barred as cars take chequered flag. Whether or not the green flag was out is irrelevent because the conditions set out by the ruling has been met.


    For those who understand simple English, clearly Andrew Benson and the Stewards do, there is no doubt Schumacher should have been penalised. Brawn being oversmart in this instance backfired.

  • Comment number 85.

    Just finding it funny the way the Schumi haters are behaving like F1 Rule Gurus. The whole stewards, media and bloggers took 2 to 3 hours to debate and reach a conclusion about the new rule regarding the overtaking. And you expect Schumi to find the right interpretation of the rule in a micro-second?? Are the rules there for a fair outcome Or for punishing drivers?

  • Comment number 86.

    Clearly this needs to be sorted out so there is no ambiguity - the whole problem is a result of the FIA designing rules for aesthetic purposes. If the race finishes behind the safety car then the safety car should stay out. Problem solved. End of.
    Now Schumi should be put back to 7th - justice should apply here, not pedantics.
    As for Damon, it's how things 'appear', especially after the pre-race comments. Also when you start a sentence with 'believe me', I tend to doubt whatever follows.
    Finally, should they rename the final corner in honour ( or dishonour ) of Schumi?

  • Comment number 87.

    It's probably all been said, but my observations anyway :)

    1. How much did they pay the lawyers who drafted "Article 40.13 of the Formula 1 sporting regulations", and can they get their money back?

    2. If I was on the appeal committee, I would want the radio transcript with timings. (Ross Brawn was handy with the timings when talking on camera immediately after the race!) My thinking:

    IF Mercedes reacted to the lights going "green" (race conditions), then their case becomes *more* plausible.

    But IF Mercedes put MS on alert well before the lights went green, indicating their intention to race to the end, then their appeal is *less* plausible.

    Did they intend to race regardless (contra 40.13), or were they playing wait-and-see (in the semi-spirit of 40.13)?

  • Comment number 88.

    I have never been a Micheal Schumacher fan, but feel he has been hard done by here
    The wording suggests that over taking is not allowed if the safety car is deployed. In this case the cars causing the safety car had been cleared and the drivers were informed that the safety car was in on that lap well before the end of the lap.
    Had the accident not have been cleared then the safety car would still have entered the pit lane but would have still been deployed meaning no overtaking
    This is clearly, as you say, a rule that needs rewording so that the intent matches what a good lawyer will successfully argue against in court.
    My money is on Shumi being reinstated and Alonso left with egg on his face

  • Comment number 89.

    I don't see why there is ANY confusion. It's very simple: as Lap 78 concluded, was the track deemed clear and safe? If yes, then 40.11 applies. If not, then 40.13 applies.

    So, which was it?
    Well, the Race Director believed it was 40.11.

    How do I know?
    -#1: "SAFETY CAR IN THIS LAP" notification appeared on-screen on Lap 78 as the SC was between 'Casino' and 'Mirabeau'.
    -#2: Safety Car's orange lights were turned off on Lap 78 as the SC was between 'Chicane' and 'Tabac'.
    -#3: The Safety Car's deployment period ended, all stations withdrew their 'SC' boards and their yellow flags, and the Race Director turned the Green Light on around the track and the marshals started waving their green flags.

    Article 40.13 states "If the race ends while the safety car is deployed it will enter the pit lane at the end of the last lap.." - so, logically speaking, as it can't both be deployed and be in the pit lane at the same time, that's saying that if the Safety Car would *otherwise* have remained out on track, it is to come into the pits on the last lap. That doesn't apply here as the incident was cleaned up and had there been one or more laps left, we would have been back to racing conditions.

    Now think back to what happened in Australia 2009 - there was still a street-sweeper on track finishing up the incident cleanup and the track was therefore not deemed "safe". The yellow lights stayed on, the yellow flags stayed out. Two totally different scenarios.

    The FIA should not even bother with an appeal - they should do the right thing and overturn the Monaco steward's decision.

    As for Damon Hill, as the driver's advisor on the steward's council, he should be ashamed of himself: if he believes the pass was not legal, then the blame must fall on the Race Director - and no driver or team should be penalized for a Race Director's mistake.

  • Comment number 90.

    @ Nahas if you disagree with someone it doesn't mean you hate them. The majority of naysayers here are as clueless as you are making the media and bloggers out ot be. I find it rather curious as to how posters here have a greater understand of the rules than the race stewards; whose duty it is surely to know FIA rulings in order to administer them? Do you people despise Alonso/Ferrari that much? Seriously grow up.

  • Comment number 91.

    I am assuming that the safety car is considered to be deployed when it is not in the pitlane and on track and that the race ends when the cars cross the start/finish line. Rule 40.13 states that the cars will take the chequered flag as normal without overtaking if the race ends while the safety car is deployed. Surely, when the race ended the safety car was not deployed as it had gone back into the pitlane. It would have been possible to leave the safety car out to lead the cars across the line then it could have gone into the pitlane at the end of the last lap, not before the last lap finished. Under these conditions the cars would not have been allowed to overtake, as per Rule 40.13, and there would have been no confusion. By bringing the safety car in before the end of the lap and confirming this by removing the SC boards and showing green flags the race must have been back on and Schumacher was correct to overtake. If this is not what the FIA thought was supposed to happen they got it wrong and should not penalise Schumacher. I am not a Schumacher fan by the way - go Jenson go.

  • Comment number 92.

    If Merc loose the appeal (or indeed, are not allowed one) and drivers are penalised for overtaking under green flags, there's no point watching this "sport". And I've been watching it since about 1980...

  • Comment number 93.

    Previous instances have shown us that if the race finishes under safety car then the SC boards and the yellow flags stay in place.

    Also, 40.11 "When the clerk of the course decides it is safe to call in the safety car the message "SAFETY CAR IN THIS LAP" will be displayed on the timing monitors and the car's orange lights will be extinguished."

    The 'safety car in this lap' board was shown, the green flags were out, neither of those things should have happened if the race was to finish under safety car. Yes, under 40.13 the safety car can pull into the pits and the race still finish under safety car but neither of those other two things should then have happened. Thus we were racing. Just as Martin Brundle correctly called on commentary.

    If the race finishes under safety car the safety car will peel off into the pits on the final corner. This DOES NOT mean that the safety car peeling off into the pits on the last corner means the race is finishing under safety car.

  • Comment number 94.


    Thanks for the lesson in applied English language, I am sure we all needed that.

    It's just a shame that such a knowledgeable individual is not employed as permanent steward+driver+race director+team manager as you did work it all out in a split second, while far lesser human beings like me are still arguing over it.

    Glad to see that it is self-doubt that seems to elude you.

  • Comment number 95.

    @Andrew Benson

    Sorry but you've interpreted this wrong, you said in relation to the Green flags:

    "the rule-makers would say that is the case every time the safety car pulls in. The reason for it (ie, the green flags) is to let all the drivers know, wherever they are on the track, that the safety car has pulled in. But they are still not allowed to overtake until the specified point - which on the last lap means not at all."

    The whole argument centres on this single point. If the race finished under the Safety Car then the SC boards and Yellow flags should have remained.

    However, all the requirements for ending the SC period had been fulfilled. The message "Safety car in this lap", "Track clear" and the lights extinguished on the safety car plus the green flags all mean the race DID NOT end under the safety car. This is a very important distinction because as rule 40.13 states:

    "If the race ends while the safety car is deployed"

    As all the procedures had been completed to bring in the Safety Car, it was clearly not deployed at the end of the race and so that rule has no relevance.

  • Comment number 96.

    30. is correct.

    Brawn knew perfectly well what everyone thought but the fact is the rules were not written correctly and thus Schumacher was in the right.

    If anything the ruling body should be punished for failing to spot that they have written a rule which states "If the race finishes while the safety car is deployed then the safety car will not be deployed when the race finishes." Which Einstein put that one in the book?

    Where do the F1 regulations give a definite meaning for the green flag?

  • Comment number 97.

    Wow folks, do you seriously believe they would allow people to race the final few hundred yards on the final lap? Delusional at best. There could have been a potential disaster if this were to happen. Goodness the intellectuals we have here I wonder why Britain isn't going anywhere.

  • Comment number 98.

    @PushTheRed - yes, I do think that some people posting here have at least as good an understanding of the rules as the stewards, plus they have had time to study the regulations, why is that so surprising?

  • Comment number 99.

    In regards to Post#30's question "Do the FIA regulations give any way to differentiate between [the] two scenarios?" -- YES THEY DO.

    Article 40.11 is very specific about what changes will happen when it is deemed "SAFE for the safety car to come in". Article 40.13 simply says that the safety car is to enter the pit lane - no change of light or flag condition is prescribed, so no change from Orange/Yellow should be assumed.

  • Comment number 100.

    Sounds like another FIA screw-up, in changing one regulation but not making sure that any other knock-on effects are covered.

    Last year, where there was no permitted overtaking (after the safety car pulls in) until the start/finish line, there is no issue and drivers would proceed in order over the line.

    This year, with the 'safety car' line being placed before the final corner, suddently you have a grey area, and as with all grey areas in F1, someone will want to test out what they can get away with.

    Two scenarios:
    1) The race finishes under safety car conditions, even if the safety car has actually pulled into the pits. This is the condition that should exist if the safety car period would have continued into the following lap had the race not reached full distance - once the safety car pulls in (and only so Berndt Schneider doesn't pick up 25 points...), the field should still be under the control of waved yellows until over the finish line

    2) Safety car in during the last lap, meaning that normal racing would have been allowed on the following lap - green flag and overtaking permitted between the safety car line and the finish.

    Seems to me that Brawn and Schumi thought they were in the second scenario, and to me the green flag suggests their interpretation is correct - after all, in the other situation, the safety car is not really 'in', but just withdrawn from the head of the race.

    Looks like the guys in charge of the rule book need to take another look at this. Perhaps also they could go for the Nascar rule of green-white-chequer, so there are always two full racing laps between the end of the safety car period and the race finish.


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