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GP Week : Issue 187
Despite Hungary dishing up a paltry serving of penalties, some of those which were served raised the odd eyebrow, with Romain Grosjean once again falling on the receiving end of steward retribution. Out-qualifying teammate Kimi Raikkonen and setting very impressive long run practice pace, Grosjean looked set to challenge for a win in Hungary and certainly looked up for the fight. But while battling with Vettel for fourth place after the first round of pit stops, the pair quickly found themselves behind an out-of-sequence Button who had vaulted to third after a long run on the medium compound tyre. After a few failed attempts, Vettel finally managed to scythe past the McLaren on lap 24 and consequently left the Briton trailing in his wake. Seizing an opportunity, Grosjean attempted to follow Vettel past Button at the following chicane but found himself on the limit trying to out-brake the McLaren, choosing instead to squeeze his rival to the outer extremities of the track. A penalty seemed almost inevitable, and Grosjean was issued with a post-race 20-second time penalty for the collision but retained his sixth place. In a peculiar turn of events, Grosjean was also penalized for a move on Felipe Massa just a few laps later, when the Frenchman performed a perfectly judged manoeuvre on his Brazilian rival by placing the Lotus around the outside of Turn Four. In executing the pass, Grosjean left the track by a matter of centimetres and was consequently penalized with a drive-through penalty. With Massa’s tyres well and truly past their best there was little the Lotus driver could do but open the steering slightly to give Massa room should the Ferrari slide into the Lotus in the high-load corner. As a result, common sense gave way to literal interpretation and the resulting punishment dropped Grosjean out of contention for a podium, much less the win. Massa himself took his opponent’s side when addressing the question of a penalty, saying “he [Grosjean] didn’t go four wheels outside, he went with two wheels. Two wheels is possible. If he took the penalty because of what he did with me, that’s completely wrong.” Interestingly, a similar incident at the same corner between Vettel and Raikkonen saw the Red Bull driver screaming over the radio that the Finn deserved a penalty, despite Button executing the same move defending against Sebastian earlier in the race. Both Raikkonen and Button positioned their cars in the centre of the road on the approach to Turn Four, and – unlike Massa’s defence against Grosjean – were able to out-brake the Red Bull and hold track position. Surely the letter of the law should be reviewed when a car leaves the circuit in the interests of safety – much like the first chicane at Singapore, where numerous drivers consistently escape penalties by jumping the corner on the first lap scramble. At best, Grosjean should have been asked to give back the gained position and reattempt the move in a more ‘sanitary’ fashion. Despite Grosjean’s move on Button being perhaps the clumsiest of the race, his pass on Massa was without doubt its best – even Massa had to concede that. Credit where credit’s due. RoGro's tale of woe 34 GPWEEK.com // 34 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> HUNGARY