Jolyon Palmer believes there is “no consistency” from Formula 1’s stewards when handing out in-race penalties to drivers for collisions, calling for judgements to be ‘less variable’.
The British Grand Prix caused a stir among the paddock and fans following Lewis Hamilton’s collision with Kimi Raikkonen on the first-lap, which resulted in the Briton being spun around by the Ferrari driver.
Raikkonen was deemed responsible for the clash and was handed a 10-second time penalty, which he served at his pitstop, with both drivers fighting back to finish on the podium.
A frustrated Hamilton labelled the incident as “interesting tactics” from Ferrari, while technical director James Allison and team boss Toto Wolff insisted it was either “deliberate or incompetence” from the team, given it was the second time in three races a Ferrari had collided with a Mercedes on the opening lap.
Ex-Renault driver Palmer says it is “frustrating” F1’s stewards are inconsistent in their brandishing of penalties, and struggles to understand how certain incidents are deemed to merit a harsher consequence.
“It is fair enough to deem Raikkonen at fault for the incident,” Palmer said in his BBC Sport column. “But I just can’t get my head around the penalty given to him – 10 seconds, when in my view Vettel’s clash with Bottas in France was slightly worse.
“Vettel came from further back in a faster corner, and he only got a five-second penalty for that.
“There’s no consistency and that’s the most frustrating thing as a driver. It is much like in football, where penalty decisions aren’t black and white.
“I had the same frustration last year. I was forced off the track by Fernando Alonso in Spa. He received no penalty. Fine. But what irked me was that in the previous race, Kevin Magnussen got a five-second penalty for doing exactly the same to Nico Hulkenberg.
“It’s the consistency that is so frustrating. The penalty system should be more black and white. In my opinion – and that of many drivers – the judgements made in specific incidents are too variable.
“Each case should be judged on its individual merits rather than who is involved or the consequences.”