Tag Archives: Charlie Whiting

Red Bull deemed illegal

The Red Bulls of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel will have to undergo changes before the Canadian Grand Prix after an important aerodynamic device that had been on the car since Malaysia was deemed illegal by the FIA.

Red Bull had been running with holes in the step plane of the floor. While other teams have used a similar device, they have been using slots to the edge of the floor; Red Bull’s holes are fully enclosed, and therefore illegal.

In an FIA directive issued to the teams on Friday, Charlie Whiting (FIA technical chief) said:

“It has been argued that, as it is not explicitly stated that fully enclosed holes cannot be located in a surface lying on the step plane rearward of a line 450mm forward of the rear face of the cockpit template, then they may be located in such areas.

“We disagree with this view and consider it implicit that fully enclosed holes may not be located there.”

There had been rumours of a protest after Mark Webber won the Monaco Grand Prix, but the teams preferred a clear resolution in time for Canada on 8-10 June.

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ITA: Steward apologises for not penalising Schumacher

Former driver Derek Daly, who was on the stewarding panel at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, has revealed in an interview on The Flying Lap that he has apologised to the FIA’s Race Director Charlie Whiting for failing to hand Michael Schumacher a drive-through penalty for dangerously blocking Lewis Hamilton during last weekend’s race.

“By the time I got home Twitter was alive with multiple questions: a) you did the right thing not penalising Schumacher, letting the race go on, it was great entertainment; and then b) why did they not take action, what about the rules, why did did you not do something, etc.

“I realised [having re-watched the race] that at a particular time last weekend, when Hamilton tried to pass Schumacher on the way to Lesmo 1, Schumacher chopped down first to defend, which he is entitled to do, and then immediately, as you probably remember, chopped back up to take his line into the Lesmo. That was, sort of, the final straw because he had been warned twice by Charlie Whiting.

“I took pretty meticulous notes thoughout every session in my role as driver steward, and I looked up lap 20 because I had actually not seen the incident [between Schumacher and Hamilton] that had incensed everybody and realised that Charlie [Whiting] had asked us to consider another incident between Massa and Jarno Trulli. While I looked at that – I’m not saying everybody looked at it – but while I looked at the slow-mo replay of that I actually missed the incident into the Lesmo.

“When I looked at it a second time I thought: ‘Boy, that was just too close to the bone, you have already been warned twice, Ross Brawn has been in your ear, the FIA sent the message down, you still ignored it, you still do push it further than anybody else’, and I thought a statement needed to be made, potentially that a drive-through penalty should be given to Michael.

“However, having missed it – I’m sorry afterwards that I did miss it – I probably would have alerted Charlie that I think that something should be done and I felt I let Charlie down by not providing that information, but I was looking at another piece of video concerning another incident, so you see how it all unfolded.”

It is welcoming that, as with Nigel Mansell beforehand, some of the driver stewards have been opening up the reasoning behind some of the stewards’ decisions this season. Too often the fans are left wondering about the reasoning behind stewarding decisions, and it brings greater transparency to the sport.

It is, however, unlikely to see an end to the wild criticism that Lewis Hamilton has faced of late, in particular from fans who can see Schumacher do no wrong.

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Picture Credits: Mercedes GP

Singapore Grand Prix: Circuit Changes

It has been revealed that officials at the Singapore Grand Prix have made changes to the kerbs at the Turn 10 chicane.

Drivers had reported that the high bumps, put out to stop cars cutting the chicane, were potentially dangerous, should a car run wide.

The drivers were worried that hitting the bumps could cause suspension damage or even damage a tub. They also raised concerns that the bumps would pitch them into the wall on the outside of the corner.

Jenson Button of Honda said:

“If you run over that kerb it is going to do a tub and probably your spine as well. It is strange we haven’t tested it before, and only here.

“I know the reason for it as it is to stop us cutting the kerbs which is understandable, but it doesn’t account for a locked up wheel or a failure.”

F1 Race Director Charlie Whiting made an inspection on Thursday afternoon, with modifications made to the second kerb ahead of today’s practice session.

As a result of the modification, the bumps have been ground down with smoother edges – meaning cars will simply ride over them in the event of a driver mistake.

Neal’s View: This will be a test of drivers’ mettle. How close to these kerbs are they prepared to get?

Jerez Test May Be Moved, Plus Patrese Tests For Honda

Riccardo Patrese

Riccardo Patrese

Recent reports have cast doubt over the upcoming group test at Jerez. The Spanish circuit has recently had it’s tarmac relaid, and needs to be inspected and approved by FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting before Formula One cars can use the venue.

It has been reported that Ferrari’s Mugello test-track has been pencilled in as a backup venue in the event that Jerez does not get it’s approval in time.

At the same time, Honda have announced that Riccardo Patrese – the most experienced racer in Formula One history until Rubens Barrichello broke the record for starts earlier this season – will test on the Tuesday at Jerez. Patrese will be driving Honda’s 2007 car.

Neal’s View: Jerez will be ready in time, Patrese is just a Honda stunt – he’s 54 afterall!

Belgian Grand Prix: Steward denies conspiracy

Hamilton's Spa Penalty

Hamilton's Spa Penalty

One of the stewards at last weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, Kenyan Surinder Thathi, came out in the face of growing public discontent and said that there was no conspiracy against the McLaren team.

“There was no conspiracy against anybody, McLaren included. We acted professionally and within the FIA rules. Hamilton took a short cut inside of the corner while off the track.”

Formula One legends, from Jackie Stewert to Nikki Lauda have claimed Hamilton was a victim of a conspiracy against McLaren after the stewards took the view he had cut the chicane and gained an unfair advantage over Ferrari’s world champion Kimi Raikkonen. This is depite the large amount of video evidence, telemetry, and independent FIA voices, such as Race Director Charlie Whiting supporting McLaren’s view.

“We had a choice to mete out a time penalty or 10 grid places in the next Grand Prix race. We opted for the former and handed a time penalty of 25 seconds.”

“I know I am a very unpopular person in the United Kingdom now, but then I was doing my job and I know I acted professionally.”

Neal’s View: You know somethings seriously unpopular when a steward publically comes out to defend the decision. Alan Donnelly’s position as FIA representative amongst the stewards is questionable, bearing in mind he has no motorsports experience and has a substantial private business, which lists amongst it’s clients, the FIA and Ferrari. Of course he has no bias! And the fact that only the Ferrari drivers (but not their boss), McLaren-hating Fernando Alonso, and the stewards see the penalty as wrong.

Behind The Barriers: Ferrari International Assistance Rears It’s Ugly Head Once More

Ferrari fans, look away now! You will not like what I have to say.

Firstly, let me make it clear: I do not support any individual driver, nor any particular team. I support the sport – which descends in to a farce on days like these.

For those of you that did not see today’s race, towards the end, Raikkonen pushed Hamilton wide at the Bus Stop chicane, Hamilton subsequently had no option but to cut the corner, gaining the lead in the process. To avoid a penalty, Hamilton let Raikkonen reclaim the lead, before re-passing him at La Source. Fearing a penalty, Ron Dennis went to check with FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting as to whether the move was legitimate, and Whiting said it was. Although the stewards are independent of Whiting, he attends every race and knows what has happened in the past. Had Whiting declared the move illegal, McLaren would have let Raikkonen back through again. At the end of the race, Ferrari put in an official protest, although they deny this, and the stewards imposed a penalty of 25 seconds to Hamilton’s time. Due to the last few, torrential, laps squeezing the pack together, this was very costly as Hamilton was demoted from first, to third.

This is not the first time that McLaren have been harshly treated by the sport’s governing body, the FIA – or Ferrari International Assistance, as Paul Stoddart dubbed it. If we look back to last year when McLaren were thrown out of the Constructors’ Championship, during the ‘Spy Scandal’, for using Ferrari information on their car, not many people listened to what the two culprits, Mike Coughlan (McLaren) and Nigel Stepney (Ferrari), had to say. They revealed that the information passed was two-way, not one-way, meaning Ferrari were using McLaren’s intellectual property on their car. The FIA did not even investigate these claims.

That’s not all. At last season’s Hungarian Grand Prix, McLaren were stripped of any Constructors’ Championship points they would have won after a squabble between Lewis Hamilton and then-teammate Fernando Alonso. In what was an internal dispute, the FIA had no right in interfering. But it did.

Suspicians are also raised by Ferrari’s Felipe Massa about this event. At 11pm, a journalist asked Massa: “It looks like nothing’s going to happen tomorrow?“, to which Massa replied: “No, no, no, no… Alonso’s been penalised and McLaren will score no Constructors’ points.” Remember, this was at 11pm, the official announcement was not made until 11.35pm – more than half an hour after Massa knew the outcome. It sounds suspicious to me!

Another example is the Italian Grand Prix, Monza 2006. Fernando Alonso had his pole position time taken away from him for ‘blocking’ Ferrari’s Felipe Massa. It did not matter to the stewards that Massa was not even in the same television camera shot. Telemetry showed Massa 1.6km down the track from Alonso. It also proved that Massa had lost no time because of Alonso. But the FIA stewards still punished the Renault man.

If we look back at the last race, Ferrari were penalised €10,000 for releasing Massa into the path of Adrian Sutil in the pit lane. Ferrari claimed that there was no sporting advantage, and the FIA accepted this as a good reason for a low penalty. Yet if we look at the regulations, Article 23.1 i states:

“It is the responsibility of thecompetitor to release his car after a pit stop only when it is safe to do so.”

There is no mention of whether a sporting advantage is gained or not. Only, whether it was safe of not. The stewards decision to delay the investigation until the end of the race was also unusual. That only usually happens if someone crashes out, or if it happens in the last 10 laps.

So I finish by asking the FIA, what on earth are you doing? You treat the fans like idiots! And we deserve better from you!

Belgian Grand Prix: McLaren to appeal against Hamilton penalty

It has been revealed tonight that McLaren-Mercedes have put in an appeal to the FIA over the stewards’ decision to penalise Lewis Hamilton. Here is the statement:

“We looked at all our data and also made it available to the FIA stewards. It showed that, having lifted, Lewis was 6km/h slower than Kimi as they crossed the start/finish line.

“Having passed the lead back to Kimi, Lewis repositioned his car, moving across and behind Kimi to the right-hand line and then outbraked him into the hairpin. Based on this data, we have no option other than to register our intention to appeal.

“We are a racing team and now focus on Monza, with a view to extending our lead in the drivers’ world championship.”

Neal’s View: Hamilton’s penalty was grossly unfair – FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting said McLaren were in the clear, had he not done, Hamilton would have let Raikkonen through again. But I’d say it is odd-on that the appeal will be rejected without even being considered.