MAY 17, 2010
Schumacher Penalised, Mercedes Appeals
Monaco Grand Prix stewards have ruled that Michael Schumacher was in breach of article 40.13 of the F1 sporting regulations when he passed Fernando Alonso's Ferrari at the last corner of the last lap in Monte Carlo. Schumacher therefore had 20s added to his race time and dropped from sixth to 12th in the final race classification. Mercedes has, however, taken the matter to the FIA Court of Appeal.
Previously, whenever the Safety Car has gone in after being deployed, drivers have not been permitted to overtake before reaching the start/finish line. This year, however, a rule clarification said that drivers may overtake once they are past the Safety Car line, they do not have to wait until the start-finish line. On any lap other than the last one, that is.
Article 40.13 states: "If the race ends while the Safety Car is deployed it will enter the pitlane at the end of the last lap and the cars will take the chequered flag as normal without overtaking."
The intent of that rule seems clear enough but the Mercedes appeal is likely to centre around the word 'deployed.' The team could argue that when the Safety Car returned to the pits it had its lights off and the circuit lights were green, not yellow. Therefore, they may argue, the race did not end with the Safety car deployed and Schumacher was free to attack Alonso.
Team principal Ross Brawn explained: "We believed that the track had gone green and the race was not finishing under a Safety Car when article 40.13 clearly would have applied. The reason for the Safety Car had been removed, the FIA had announced 'Safety Car in this lap' early on lap 78 and the track had been declared clear by race control. This was further endorsed when the marshals showed green flags and lights after safety car line one. On previous occasions when it has been necessary to complete a race under a safety car, full course yellows are maintained, as in Melbourne 2009. On the last lap, we therefore advised our drivers that they should race to the line and Michael made his move on Fernando for sixth place. We have appealed the decision of the stewards."
As things stand at the moment, subject to the appeal, Webber and Vettel lead the championship with 78 points to Alonso's 75 and Button's 70. Schumacher remains on 22 points. In the constructors championship, Red Bull has 156 points to Ferrari's 136 and McLaren's 129. Mercedes has 78.