Like the referees of world football, racing stewards of Formula One are being judged on every decision with a backlash of general irritation. It’s no longer just the voices and commentaries surrounding the paddock that have taken note with the Toro Rosso’s drivers having a dig too.
If you watch other racing series, the mid-race officiating is kept to a minimum by comparison as rules and regulations are clear cut and uniform. For the same reasons that football doesn’t bring in a video referee, (What would the back-pages be filled with? What would we talk about!?) Formula One also gains exposure from a lack of clarity.
Carlos Sainz was penalized at the Mexican Grand Prix for what looked like a racing incident between himself and Alonso, but the younger Spaniard still managed to pick up a 5-second penalty and was surely left with a sense of discouragement towards fighting for position. It’s what Mercedes call “The rules of engagement”, which is interesting given that “engagement” seems to be the only thing being perpetually discouraged.
Carlos Sainz gave his verdict with,
“I’ve seen less [penalties] for more. I heard that [in Mexico] there were very similar situations with mine and Fernando’s incident and that there were no penalties. This is what Formula One needs to understand, either to look at it incident by incident or to put a fixed rule.
Nowadays it’s difficult to know what will happen to you if you do a certain move that is a tiny bit on the limit. It’s a bit of a lottery to get a penalty or not. Us drivers need to race with a very clear thing in mind when we overtake a guy.”
– Carlos Sainz
It won’t just be Carlos Sainz feeling this, so it can be taken for granted that the merry-go-round of guest appearance stewards at each race are now influencing the synapses present in the helmet of competitors during the race – which isn’t a good thing.
Are the inconsistencies on decision making reflective of the fact that there are different people officiating at each race? Surely this is a vital role, clearly an influential one, that would be better for the sake of consistency if it was fulfilled by the same individuals throughout the season?
Daniil Kvyat has also been critical after his own penalty for an off in the process of overtaking Romain Grosjean at the Mexican Grand Prix (Another golden case of advantages beyond the white lines being the issue).
The Russian was blunt but accurate in his analysis. He said,
“They are really inconsistent these guys. I’m very unhappy with how they make the decisions to be honest. There’s really no consistency, no anything. Massa and Alonso in Austin, and me and Grosjean here — a completely different reaction. I disagree with that but I have no influence in this anymore.”
– Daniil Kvyat
Even more alarming is his sense of helplessness in the Driver briefing in which Kvyat and his colleagues should be able to express concern with elements of the sport that need improvement. He said,
“Everybody is talking about it and, what is the result? They still do the same.
In those briefings, they talk, talk, talk, I don’t want to waste my time for this because they are going to do their own thing anyway. Honestly I don’t have a clear clue on how they should do these things. Gravel traps is a good solution, like someone suggested I think.”
– Daniil Kvyat
— Alejandro (@motorsport_geek) October 30, 2016
To find out there is a reluctance to listen to the drivers gives little hope to the fan base having any significant voice. If it wasn’t clear earlier on that Formula One is broken and unwilling to fix itself, it is with this insight from both drivers.