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Why Raikkonen's ridiculous penalty could cost Alfa Romeo millions

Why Raikkonen's ridiculous penalty could cost Alfa Romeo millions

F1 News

Why Raikkonen's ridiculous penalty could cost Alfa Romeo millions

Why Raikkonen's ridiculous penalty could cost Alfa Romeo millions

Kimi Raikkonen was stripped of his first points of the season after he was hit by an egregious 30-second penalty for a safety car infringement at Imola and the implications for Alfa Romeo could be huge.

The Finn was given the hefty penalty for failing to regain his position behind the safety car after spinning and instead remaining at the back of the field.

As the stewards correctly suggested in the incident report, the penalty was applied consistently with similar situations and the stop-go penalty, converted to 30-seconds as it was assessed post-race, was a mandatory sanction.

But with the rule perhaps coming across as ridiculous in the face of other incidents and punishments, GPFans looks at whether these regulations need a fix.

What happened at Imola?

On lap 33, the red flags were shown after Valtteri Bottas and George Russell tangled at high speed at the Tamburello chicane.

When the field followed the safety car out of the pits ready for the restart, FIA race director Michael Masi had not declared if the restart would be a standing start or a rolling restart. Midway around the lap, a rolling restart was declared due to the wet-dry circuit conditions.

This meant that the safety car lap was essentially a formation lap. However, this caused confusion amongst teams. For Alfa Romeo, this was not helped by Raikkonen's spin.

Whilst the regulations permitted Raikkonen to regain his position before the first safety car line, Alfa Romeo sought rapid clarification from Masi to avoid a penalty for completing illegal overtakes. There was, however, not time for this and Raikkonen remained at the back of the field.

At this point, regulations dictated Raikkonen should have pulled into the pits and not exited until all the other remaining cars had passed the pit exit.

As the Finn failed to do this, the race stewards deemed this to be a violation of the regulations and handed Raikkonen a mandatory stop-go penalty, converted to 30-seconds after the race.

Why the punishment makes no sense

F1's constant quest for safety is a push that should be commended, whether it be the halo, crash structures of the cars, improved circuit facilities etcetera.

So on the face of it, it is nothing short of dull that Raikkonen's penalty warranted such a stinging sanction when playing safe and putting no one at risk when in the same race, Sergio Perez overtook under safety car conditions after an error of his own and received only a 10-second penalty.

If this is the route the FIA and stewards want to go down, especially in the conditions seen at Imola last weekend, then F1 has a serious issue. It should, for example, not be possible to receive a harsher penalty for aiding safety than, in the case of Perez, potentially harming it.

Potentially serious incidents tend to get less heinous punishment too. Daniil Kvyat earned himself a 10-second penalty for sending Lance Stroll into a barrel roll at the Bahrain Grand Prix last season.

The FIA, FOM and the teams need to sit down and figure out what the priorities for penalising incidents are. Ultimately, Raikkonen had served his penalty, he had lost positions. For some reason, this was deemed more dangerous and a worse act than either of the two aforementioned incidents.

Why Alfa Romeo could lose millions

Alfa Romeo will no doubt be entangled with Williams in the battle for eighth place in the constructors' championship and the difference in prize money ranks in the millions.

Both Alfa Romeo and Williams have made steps forward over the winter but points will likely still be at a premium for the two outfits this year. Losing two points for proceeding with a cautious approach to driver safety will therefore grate on the Hinwill-based management.

For these two teams, the prize money gained for finishing that place higher could mean the difference between running at or below the cost cap next season, with finances almost certain to be vital to upgrade the new breed of car introduced next year throughout the campaign.

The rule wasn't applied incorrectly, it is just wrong and needs looking at urgently.

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