FIA Formula 1 race director Michael Masi has stressed the consequences of an incident are not taken into account by the stewards when determining penalties.
The opening-lap collision between title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen at the British Grand Prix has fuelled debate whether the 10-second time penalty handed to Hamilton was severe enough.
Verstappen retired on the spot after a 51g impact into the barriers at Copse Corner, while Hamilton recovered from his penalty to win the race, much to the frustration of Red Bull who felt the sanction didn’t fit the crime.
Masi was clear that when analysing the incident to decide the appropriate action, the stewards have been “advised” for many years to not judge the implications of a crash and only focus on the collision itself.
“I think one of the big parts that’s been a mainstay for many, many years,” Masi said, as quoted by Motorsport.com.
“And this came through discussions prior to my time between all of the teams, the FIA and F1, and the team principals were all quite adamant, is that you should not consider the consequences in an incident.
“So when they judge an incident they judge the incident itself, and the merits of the incident, not what happens afterwards as a consequence. And that’s been something that the stewards have done for many years.
“And have been advised to do from top down. And I’m talking team involvement, and so forth. So that’s the way that the stewards judge it, because start taking consequences into account, there’s so many variables, rather than judging the incident itself on its merits.”
Red Bull let their feelings known that Hamilton had got off lightly, with team boss Christian Horner calling the seven-time world champion’s manoeuvre on Verstappen “desperate”.
The team’s motorsport advisor Helmut Marko even suggested Hamilton should be given a race ban, and Masi admitted it is almost impossible to make a call that leaves everyone satisfied with the outcome.
Asked about Red Bull’s complaints that the punishment wasn’t harsh enough, Masi said: “I think if you look at it on that basis you’ll never find a penalty that will address an imbalance like that.
“If you look at it in that particular circumstance so that is why going back a few years the teams, or team principals, made a clear distinction that they didn’t want consequences taken into account they wanted it based on the incident itself.
“I completely understand that perspective and I think that is a general held view across all stewarding, to not look at consequences for that purpose.”
When asked to compare how the stewards come to a verdict similar to VAR in football, Masi said the process is far more complex as they are told to analyse all elements of an incident in detail.
“I think that you’ve got a lot of TV analysts out there with a lot of very experienced former drivers out there that will put a perspective forward,” he said. “And the stewards look at absolutely everything that they’ve got available.
“And unlike a VAR process that sort of done and dusted within 30 seconds, sometimes maybe a minute maximum, the stewards are very much are told that you take the time that you need to analyse any possible element of any incident that occurs.
“So I don’t see it from that point of view, I think the stewards need to remain as an independent judiciary. And I don’t think they should in their capacity should have any pressures, and they should take their time to analyse everything based on its merits.”