“Completely wrong” Ferrari F1 unsafe release fine won’t be repeated

Formula 1

Autosport can reveal that the FIA has agreed with Formula 1 teams that unsafe pitstop releases will be punished with time penalties rather than fines, following Ferrari’s incident at Hockenheim.

During the first round of pitstops in the German Grand Prix, Leclerc was released by Ferrari into the path of Romain Grosjean, which forced the Haas driver to hit the brakes and lose positions.

But Ferrari and Leclerc were not handed a time penalty for the incident as the stewards elected to hand the Scuderia a €5000 fine instead.

The sanction prompted unease as there were fears the punishment would start a precedent in teams taking more risks at pitstops because a fine would not be a sufficient deterrent.

It has now emerged that the matter was discussed in Thursday afternoon’s team manager’s meeting with the FIA ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix.

There was a unanimous request for time penalties to be deemed as the punishment and the FIA has now accepted the concerns that fines were not enough of a deterrent.

It has now been decided that unsafe releases will be punished with time penalties and the decision will quell unhappiness in the pitlane, with Max Verstappen proving a vocal critic.

Verstappen had been given a time penalty earlier this year for an unsafe release at the Monaco Grand Prix when he was released into the path of Valtteri Bottas and led to a collision.

F1 race director Michael Masi had previously explained that Verstappen was penalised for the collision with Bottas, rather than for an unsafe release.

“It is completely wrong of course,” said Verstappen, when asked by Autosport about the Ferrari fine.

“If they will get a fine then everybody will do it. I think it is not fair and to say that they gave me that penalty [in Monaco] only because we touched, that is also not fair.

“You are still releasing the car knowing there is a car in the fast lane, and if it’s just a fine – it is unfair.”

Speaking about the size of the fine Ferrari was given, Verstappen said: “That is peanuts for a team.

“They really don’t care to [have to] pay that. So I think it is completely wrong to do that, especially if you talk about safety. It is not correct.”

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