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GP Week : Issue 188
A lack of consistency over race penalties for incidents concerning sergio Perez’s pass on Romain Grosjean at Les Combes and Nico Hulkenberg’s near-identical move on Jean- eric Vergne at the same corner has left some commentators scratching their heads. On the approach to Les Combes, an aggressive pass on Grosjean by Perez nudged the Frenchman wide and pressured the Lotus driver into opting for the escape road. Consequently, the stewards handed Perez a drive-through penalty; much to the amazement of SkySports commentator Martin Brundle, who believed the move to be well within the grounds of fair racing. Article 20.3 of the FIA rulebook reads: “More than one change of direction to defend a position is not permitted. Any driver moving back towards the racing line, having earlier defended his position off‐line, should leave at least one car width between his own car and the edge of the track on the approach to the corner.” As Perez was the overtaking driver, the letter of the law is a little more dubitable. Certainly Grosjean was forced wide in making the manoeuver, but he still had two wheels on the asphalt and two wheels on the rumble strip. Whether this compromised his braking is debatable, as conceding the position may have been a less exaggerated option than firing up the escape road. In a near-identical display, Hulkenberg also opted for the ideal racing line when attempting a pass on Vergne at the same corner, with the Toro Rosso driver in this instance opting to back out of a fight. No penalty or investigation appeared to take place, which might be explained by Grosjean’s dramatic response to the pass. In 2012 Charlie Whiting explained the nuances of the rule, saying: “we don’t want to get into silly arguments about centimetres, so we’ve decided the defending driver must leave at least one car width on the racing line other wise he will be judged to have made a second move and penalized accordingly. We need to have drivers giving each other space on the track – other wise we risk dangerous collisions.” Move once, shame on you! 32 GPWEEK.com // 32 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> BELGIUM