(Motorsport-Total.com) – After Lewis Hamilton was punished in Sochi for his starting exercises, which had almost brought him to the brink of a racing ban, criticism of the award of penalty points in Formula 1 came up. The drivers agreed that points should only be awarded for safety-related violations. In Portimao, however, three drivers received one penalty point for exceeding the track limits several times.
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Michael Masi will not change the penalty points during the season
According to race director Michael Masi, this does not mean that the race stewards disregarded the drivers’ request with regard to the penalty points. “You can’t say that,” emphasizes Masi. Rather, the hands of the commissioners are tied in this regard, because the penalties automatically trigger a certain number of points from the catalog.
And these cannot be changed during a season. “At the beginning of each year, the FIA and all team bosses sit together and revise the catalog of penalties and the guidelines that the stewards adhere to, and agree on the penalties and the attached penalty points,” explains Masi. That was also discussed with all drivers.
“That would be bad leadership”
The catalog and the relevance of the individual penalties are checked annually. “From the team’s point of view, it is therefore no surprise what penalty points are awarded for and what not. We discussed this at the drivers’ meeting and said that we would do the same check for 2021,” explains the race director.
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“But that’s not something that we change during a year and in the middle of a season. The drivers were told that there would be no changes. That would be a bad lead,” said Masi.
Hamilton had reached ten points in Sochi with his penalty points – from twelve there is a suspension for a race. Unusually, however, the commissioners deleted the points afterwards. Nevertheless, the Mercedes driver still holds the top position in this ranking with eight points (for an overview of the penalty points 2020).
Track limits: “Best solution under the circumstances”
Masi also comes back to the topic of track limits, which was the focus in Portimao after more than 120 offenses were counted on Friday alone. He emphasizes that the FIA has looked at numerous solutions in the past – be it measuring loops, different kerbstones or different run-off zones.
“Is the solution we have here with the loops ideal? Probably not, but it’s the best we have under the circumstances. It seems to be doing its job pretty well.” The credo: The solution must be constant and repeatable for every car.
“We keep looking at the technology, physical solutions and so on – and not necessarily over the winter,” said Masi. “This is something that we have already looked at and that we will look at further.”