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Why F1 and FIA must resolve farcical penalties

Why F1 and FIA must resolve farcical penalties

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Why F1 and FIA must resolve farcical penalties

Why F1 and FIA must resolve farcical penalties

There were some stunning stories from across the Austrian Grand Prix weekend, from Red Bull driver Max Verstappen's utter dominance to Lando Norris' stellar performance for McLaren and George Russell's Q3 appearance for Williams.

Yet the race was overshadowed by a number of infuriating penalties handed out for drivers seemingly doing their job - racing.

Add to that the baffling lack of consistency of the application of rules throughout the weekend, both from incident to incident and comparing scenarios to other races, the decisions have descended into somewhat of a farce. Here are the issues.

Norris and Perez - forcing another driver off-track

Can somebody please explain which part of Norris and Perez's penalties for forcing rivals off-track makes any sense?

Norris was handed a five-second penalty for forcing Perez off at turn four as the Red Bull attempted to drive around the outside. The Mexican was later punished for the same offence on two separate occasions with Charles Leclerc.

After Norris' criticism of the decisions, FIA race director Michael Masi explained: "[The stewards'] view was in all three circumstances that a car's width should have been left to the edge of the track because the two cars were alongside each other.”

Unfortunately, what has seemingly been forgotten is that this is F1, this is racing. These things happen when you go toe-to-toe in the fastest machinery on a race track anywhere on the planet.

You could argue that at least the decisions were consistent, but actually, they weren't at all. On the same lap - the fourth immediately after the safety car restart - Perez ran wide at turn one when side by side with Norris. So what is the difference?

And then what about Lewis Hamilton versus Max Verstappen in Bahrain, where the championship leader was punished for overtaking off track? The Dutchman was off track because Hamilton had waltzed across the racing line. Again, fair racing but no consistency.

If you want something else to get highly-strung over, when asked if gravel had played its part in the penalties, Masi said: "Obviously, gravel does have an impact in those places, so yes, you would say looking at it logically."

I'm sorry, what? The track limits are the track limits. It doesn't matter whether there is tarmac, grass or gravel as far as the rules are concerned. It is baffling. Unfortunately, there is more to come.

Penalty points

If the time penalty for Norris wasn't bad enough, the British driver was given two penalty points on his licence. The pair didn't make contact, in fact even Perez's boss Christian Horner said there was nothing wrong with the incident.

Yet if Norris repeated this defence another five times across a 12-month period he would earn himself a race ban. Seriously?

To put it in perspective, the punishment for not respecting double-waved yellows and potentially posing a serious risk to track workers is worth only a single penalty point more.

Norris is now just two points away from a ban, although in fairness, two of his 10 points at present are wiped out before the next race at Silverstone.

Even so, Verstappen defended the Briton. He said: "I don’t think you deserve a ban for what you did today or whatever. I think it’s just not correct."

Obviously, Perez picked up four for his two moments, making the whole distribution of these penalty points a complete joke - and not a funny one either.

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