Yesterday’s Monaco GP was a wet race for the first time since 2016, and we witnessed a fantastic race more about which you can read by clicking here. However, post-race a protest was lodged against both cars of the race-winning Red Bull team, i.e. the #1 car of Max Verstappen who finished P3 and the #11 car of Sergio Perez who finished P1. So, what exactly happened?
While the track was transitioning from a damp surface to a dry surface, teams opted to make the call to switch from extreme wet tyres to dry tyres, specifically the hard tyres. As we know, the hard tyres provide the least amount of grip as compared to the other slick tyres, which is done so to allow for the tyres to last long. This was exactly the problem- there was no grip on track for those who came out of the pits, and more so for those who came out on the hard tyres!
On Lap 23, as Max exited the pits he was obviously aiming to do so as quickly as he could in order to get ahead of Leclerc, who had a poor pitstop and fell back. In his haste, Max came a bit too hot into Turn 1 and overshot the designated pit exit line by a small margin, and in doing so irked the Ferrari team, who formally lodged a protest against said pit exit.
Ferrari also lodged a protest against Checo’s pit exit, saying that what had occurred was a clear breach of the regulations. In the end, however, Ferrari’s protest was rejected and the race result stood. Though, the question must be asked – how did we end up in this pickle in the first place? Let’s take a detailed look.
[toggle title=”The Protest Documents from Ferrari to the FIA” state=”close”]
In Max’s case, it was clear that he had crossed the white line- however, how much is and should be permissible to the drivers in case of a pit lane exit scenario? As can be seen in the picture above, Max was turning left at a sharp angle. Though Red Bull may term this move as being a counter-steer reaction to the damp track, no other driver had crossed the line during the race.
The stewards noted that Max had put a certain part of his left-hand side wheels beyond the white line, and in doing so breached the Race Director’s Event Notes, which stated that the car and driver must not cross the yellow line at pit exit. However, the Event Notes contradicted the FIA’s own International Sporting Code (ISC), though the FIA said that despite this oversight, the Race Director’s event notes are gospel for the teams during the race weekend.
Now, here’s the catch- the ISC was changed from 2021 to 2022, but the event notes were an exact copy-paste of the 2021 event notes. This meant that the two obviously contradicted each other, which is not exactly ideal for anyone involved! Red Bull said that Max had still stayed to the right of the yellow line, and had not breached the ISC in the process.
The FIA and both the Ferrari and Red Bull representatives agreed that Max’s front left and rear left tyre had gone over the yellow line, and all parties also agreed that most of the tyre was within the yellow line. The FIA after some deliberation and discussion dismissed Ferrari’s protest, and let the result stand.
What was the reason for this? Well, the FIA said that in order to have breached the rules, the car “must not
cross” the line at the pit exit. The FIA also said that had an entire wheel gone beyond the yellow line, the investigation would have gone further and possible penalties might have been dished out as in case an entire wheel had gone beyond the line, it would have been in breach of the regulations.
The FIA also said that Max had not breached the relevant section of the ISC, which takes precedent over the Race Director’s notes. With this, the protest was shut down and Max kept his P3. The protest against Sergio was dismissed immediately, as after analyzing footage there was no point at which he went beyond the yellow line at all.
[toggle title=”The FIA’s Final Decision Documents” state=”close”]
Should matters like this be allowable to be resolved in this sort of a manner? First and foremost, for those of you wondering if this was even a fair appeal by Ferrari, let’s not forget they were going against a team that is known to call against the tiniest of breaches. RedBull are even planning in lobbying the FIA to increase the budget cap along with Ferrari, Mercedes and Mclaren. So fair play to SF.
The biggest culprits here are the FIA and the Race Director, as they simply cannot put out statements contradictory to the others, especially for an event like an F1 race where the stakes are simply too high!
If one says that “you must not let any part of your car over the yellow line” and the other says “you must not let a wheel go over the yellow line” instead, then who should be listened to in a scenario such as the one Red Bull found themselves in?
During a race weekend, the Race Director’s notes are to be followed by the teams, though it should be in accordance with the official FIA rulebook, so how on earth did such a slip-up occur? Though Red Bull are not wrong in this scenario, neither are Ferrari.
If the FIA themselves had to say that the Race Director’s event notes cannot contradict the ISC, then some questions have to be raised about the amount and degree of control at the top of the sport. What’s your opinion on the matter? Should Max have been penalised or is the FIA’s reasoning valid? Do let us know!