The Formula-1 race was already several hours over when the joy at Alfa Romeo and Kimi Riding Kings about the first points of the current season’s humiliation waved. For instead of the ninth place, which the Finnish apparently brought to Imola, after a late 30-second sentence, he suddenly stood there empty-handed.
The incident that led to the sanction of racketeering should be unique in formula 1 in this combination so far and could entail a change in the rules. What exactly had happened?
It all started with the serious accident between Mercedes pilot Valtteri Bottas and Williams driver George Russell. The race guide interrupted the race with the Red Flag in order to carry out the cleanup work. So far, so normal.
Race King’s rotation started chaos
After the destruction of the wrecks and debris the race guide decided to take a rolling start behind the safety car. Bernd Maylande led the riders on the route, which was also initially without any special occurrences.
The disaster for the queens began in turn three after leaving the boxing alley. The Finnish lost control of his car on the still wet track and slipped off the track, the field passed him. Now it becomes interesting and complicated at the same time.
Because although this round behind the safety car is one of the normal races, the events behind it are evaluated as if they were a formation round. A driver may retract his position after a slip in accordance with Article 42(6) of the Sports Regulations if he makes it to the first safety-car line. This is located in Imola directly at the junction of the entrance of the boxing gas.
Difference of formation round vs. racing cheques
This was also the difference to the situation with Sergio Perez. This slipped off the track during the first safety car phase following the accident of Williams pilot Nicholas Latifi. However, as this was a normal racing event and not a formation round before a (re)start, his overtaking manoeuvres were irregular, which is why he received a ten-second penalty.
Now, however, a rule contradiction comes to bear, which the Stewards also criticize in their reasoning. Article 42(12) states that overtaking manoeuvres behind the safety car are no longer permitted when the lights are switched off when it is in motion. From this point, as is the normal case, the guide specifies the speed.
In this situation, line queens had only restored the connection to the field after turning in the Alta variant, i.e. in the 13th and 14th curves. However, the lights on the safety car were already switched off in turn ten. So what now? Might or didn’t vengeance kings even have to reclaim their position? The bitter realization: this case does not exist in the Rules of Procedure.
ambiguities also in the team
The team apparently did not know how to deal with the situation either. His racing engineer gave orders to line queens not to retrieve his position. The team still wanted to reassure Michael Masi, the race director, but there was no time for an answer. Rowing kings remained in their rear position.
Now, however, Article 42.6 came to wear. It does say, as has already been said, that a driver can take back the position up to the first safety car line. If, however, he does not manage to do so, or does not do so, as in the case of rakes, the driver must turn into the pit lane at the end of the round and must not leave it until the field has passed.
This mandatory descent into the pit lane did not, however, take place with rakes. The race commissioners then occupied the Finns after the race with a 10-second stop-and-go penalty, which was converted into a 30-second time penalty. With this, rookies slid from square nine to rank 13.
Stewards criticise conflicting rules
In their judgment the commissioners clearly denounce the contradiction of rules if the cars are behind the safety car during a safety-car phase, overtaking is prohibited, but if they are for a re-start behind the safety car, it is permissible”.
At the same time, however, the rule that a driver must get into the pit lane if he does not get his position back in time,”has been part of the formula-1 rules for several years and has also been applied consistently”, In short, the situation could not be corrected at an early stage for the executioners without punishment. If he had regained his position, even though the safety-car lights had already been switched off, this would also have resulted in a penalty. Apart from the Finns themselves, who are not allowed to suffer from such a driving error, no one can be blamed.
“Getting points after take-off 16 would have been a great story,” says Reuikkunen. After the Red Flag he had some problems, “but we could use the route layout to our advantage,” the 41-year-old explains: “Unfortunately, we got the punishment and have nothing to show for it. But at least we can look positively on our performance.”