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Old 9 Sep 2019, 13:28 (Ref:3926906)   #1
Born Racer
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Driving standards/ stewarding

Are things coming to a head with this, or at least is there a change in how drivers go about their racing?

We have discussed before about how the stewards are damned if they do, damned if they don't now. Twenty or so years ago, penalties for driving standards were extremely rare. They let the drivers sort it out among themselves and sometimes drivers would be hard done by and sometimes they would get away with things.

Now, stewards' interventions are par for the course and it is an integral part of the series, in the same way that refereeing is a part of football. I feel that the problem, however, in F1 is that while people have their own ideas, nobody in charge is really too sure of what lines are being drawn and how to be consistent. We see periods of huge amounts of penalties and periods of very few.

I wonder whether due to professional sport becoming increasingly competitive and the competitors increasingly pushing things to the limits to achieve an edge, this will lead to an ugly side of Formula 1. Charles Leclerc, in an interview, admitted quite rationally that the incident in Austria with Verstappen changed how he went about racing and what he did at Monza on Hamilton was one result of that. Are we now going to see the likes of Hamilton respond in kind (someone who, for all his audacious manoeuvres, I have always seen as fair and representing what I personally see as good racing)? Where will this lead us? Many drivers having accidents? With the comparative lack of danger compared to the past and the lack of consequences in terms of accidents for running wide, drivers push others to track limits more than before, it seems.

What about the presence of the black-and-white flag? The stewards have laid down a problematic precedent again. Are we now to expect drivers to always be warned of bad driving in the first instance and possibly punished in the second? They supposedly know the rules, but Monza suggested you can get away with the offence once. The drivers, being wily sorts, will exploit that if they can and push to the limits on a defence like Leclerc's in Monza protesting that they should only be given a warning. And if they aren't given a warning and get a penalty immediately? Where's the consistency there?
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Old 9 Sep 2019, 14:45 (Ref:3926931)   #2
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Originally Posted by Born Racer View Post
Are things coming to a head with this, or at least is there a change in how drivers go about their racing?

We have discussed before about how the stewards are damned if they do, damned if they don't now. Twenty or so years ago, penalties for driving standards were extremely rare. They let the drivers sort it out among themselves and sometimes drivers would be hard done by and sometimes they would get away with things.

Now, stewards' interventions are par for the course and it is an integral part of the series, in the same way that refereeing is a part of football. I feel that the problem, however, in F1 is that while people have their own ideas, nobody in charge is really too sure of what lines are being drawn and how to be consistent. We see periods of huge amounts of penalties and periods of very few.

I wonder whether due to professional sport becoming increasingly competitive and the competitors increasingly pushing things to the limits to achieve an edge, this will lead to an ugly side of Formula 1. Charles Leclerc, in an interview, admitted quite rationally that the incident in Austria with Verstappen changed how he went about racing and what he did at Monza on Hamilton was one result of that. Are we now going to see the likes of Hamilton respond in kind (someone who, for all his audacious manoeuvres, I have always seen as fair and representing what I personally see as good racing)? Where will this lead us? Many drivers having accidents? With the comparative lack of danger compared to the past and the lack of consequences in terms of accidents for running wide, drivers push others to track limits more than before, it seems.

What about the presence of the black-and-white flag? The stewards have laid down a problematic precedent again. Are we now to expect drivers to always be warned of bad driving in the first instance and possibly punished in the second? They supposedly know the rules, but Monza suggested you can get away with the offence once. The drivers, being wily sorts, will exploit that if they can and push to the limits on a defence like Leclerc's in Monza protesting that they should only be given a warning. And if they aren't given a warning and get a penalty immediately? Where's the consistency there?
Some very good points there, BR.

The inconsistency of penalties over the years means that there is always a precedent for everything. So if F1 really wants to sort the situation out, they need to start by drawing a line and saying that what happened in the past is irrelevant. Here are the new rules now.

Then produce a list of things you are not allowed to do, and a statement of the penalty for each one. There could be more than one penalty for each transgression, allowing stewards a bit of latitude depending on severity. Then apply them rigorously.

Given the ability of F1 competitors to think up ways around things, there would have to be a built-in system to adapt the new rules in the light of experience.

Wherever possible tracks should be designed to avoid the need to invoke the use of the stewards. Track limits is an obvious example. Somehow (and I'm not saying there is an easy answer) drivers have got to be penalised for putting their wheels off the track, but without causing a serious danger. One step would be to get rid of all the wide kerbs, red-and-white stripes, green paint and grasscrete. Drivers are perfectly capable of placing their car to within 100mm so giving them any more leeway than that is just an invitation to use it.
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Old 9 Sep 2019, 15:26 (Ref:3926937)   #3
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Sky F1 did a piece at the Sky Pad with Michael Masi,

It's not on their Youtube channel yet, but here is a link to the Sky Sports website that has the embedded video.

If it's geo-locked sorry, but hopefully they'll upload it to youtube so it can be seen by a wider audience.
https://www.skysports.com/f1/news/12...-race-director
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Old 9 Sep 2019, 16:09 (Ref:3926946)   #4
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The 'Naughty Boy (or Girl)' flag is very widely used in national motorsport, at the very least in the UK. One of my favourite radio calls ever was "Chief flag, show the black and white flag to the entire field" in a club race

In that sphere, there's a difference between a bit of a squeeze where both drivers continue and no positions change, compared to a square hit on the rear making a car run wide and lose position. The first gets a B&W, the second may get a penalty *but* mostly only if reported by the nearest observer(s).

If a driver gets a B&W and then repeats the infringement, they get penalised. It's a pretty simple rule to understand, and yes it does get used by the drivers sometimes. It's a bit like the "kerb strike" rule used at some circuits in Supercars, like T1 and T2 at Adelaide where the drivers saved them up for the last few laps. Rules is rules!
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Old 9 Sep 2019, 17:25 (Ref:3926957)   #5
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I think the problem has been that as the sport becomes more professionally run, it has gravitated to a system in which if anything odd happens, it may be possible to find that an infraction has occurred. This follows that someone must be at fault and eventually leads to required punishment. All very logical in a Vulcan sort of way. However, I don't want Spock as a race steward.

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Originally Posted by TrapezeArtist View Post
Then produce a list of things you are not allowed to do, and a statement of the penalty for each one. There could be more than one penalty for each transgression, allowing stewards a bit of latitude depending on severity. Then apply them rigorously.
I have cherry picked a quote from TrapezeArtist and bolded a bit of his post as I think it contains a key element that is new... This is that the stewards are now empowered with the the ability to practice latitude. A quick definition check for latitude gives me "scope for freedom of action or thought". I like that definition. It sort of implies that you have a brain and that you actually examine the situation, context of the moment, etc.

To my point above, the more organized we are and the more the rules are refined it's easy to become mindless robots as to their application. "rules are rules" until people start to question... Why do we have these rules? But the rules exist for good reason. But if you read rules as to the role of the stewards, it clearly shows they have the power to make their own choices. This is not new. What has changed is that I think the expectation previously was for them to be consistent robots. "Precedents" would rule the day and please ignore other factors that everyone else sees, understands and processes into their definition of what is "fare". This results in a disconnect between steward rulings and what the sport (teams, drivers, fans) expected the outcome to be.

Can this flexibility cause problems? Absolutely. The pendulum will continue to swing back and forth between "over" and "under" application of the rules. We can only hope that we don't spend too much time at either extreme. I am however fine with giving this a try vs. defaulting to the robot approach.

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Old 9 Sep 2019, 19:49 (Ref:3926982)   #6
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I think behaviour like that (Leclerc on Hamilton) is now accepted as OK.
The Verstappen-Leclerc action at Austria certainly has its influence.

Personally I would have preferred the other option where drivers were obliged to give the other car a car's width of racing room (i.e. Verstappen's action on Leclerc would have been wrong, as would have been Lecler's on Hamilton) but I'm OK with this if they keep on being consistent.
Same on-track action, same (lack of) steward action.

Inconsistency would be the worst thing.
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Old 10 Sep 2019, 00:22 (Ref:3927027)   #7
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Highlighting the inconsistency of the stewards would be the Vettel / Stroll and Stroll / Gasly incidents at Monza.

Vettel got what he deserved for a low incident that was probably avoidable if Stroll had dropped a wheel of the track.

Stroll escaped penalty for what I would say was an even worse dose of the same because Gasly left the circuit at high speed to avoid hitting him when he rejoined unsafely.

An element of the current stewarding that really bothers me is how people escape penalty when they do something unacceptable and the aggrieved party avoids a contact at great cost to their race.

Hamilton avoiding contact with Leclerc at Monza would be an example when he was not left room. (Compare with Vettel incident in Canada for inconsistency too.)
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Old 10 Sep 2019, 05:29 (Ref:3927051)   #8
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Correct me if I'm wrong, but Stroll did get a penalty - a drive through. Vettel got a 10s stop go.

Lesser penalty for Stroll as no contact happened.

That looks pretty consistent application of the rules to me.
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Old 10 Sep 2019, 06:15 (Ref:3927058)   #9
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Correct me if I'm wrong, but Stroll did get a penalty - a drive through. Vettel got a 10s stop go.

Lesser penalty for Stroll as no contact happened.

That looks pretty consistent application of the rules to me.
Also Stroll was already on track in an unsafe position, where as Vettel was off track and came onto the racing line.

Possibly his line of sight was even worsen than Vettel's.
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Old 10 Sep 2019, 09:00 (Ref:3927097)   #10
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Correct me if I'm wrong, but Stroll did get a penalty - a drive through. Vettel got a 10s stop go.

Lesser penalty for Stroll as no contact happened.

That looks pretty consistent application of the rules to me.
You are correct on the penalties. However there was no Stroll/Gasly contact because Gasly did a better job of avoiding Stroll (or maybe he was just luckier) than Stroll did with Vettel. So it was the innocent party in both cases who determined whether there was contact, not the transgressor.

It's far too late to look to precedent to determine what should be penalised and what the penalty should be. There are always conflicting precedents that could be called upon. Indeed you could say that the only consistency in the application of penalties is the inconsistency. Jolyon Palmer has made the same call as me for a rewrite of the rules, saying "In my view, F1 needs a complete rules reset." His full analysis is here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/formula1/49629863
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Old 10 Sep 2019, 09:04 (Ref:3927101)   #11
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I am not sure about the black & white flag thing. We all know that most teams and drivers will push a rule to it's extremes in order to gain any little advantage. Will drivers see the black & white flag as a "free ticket" to allow them to move under braking or crowd another car off track?

Black & White is an ironic colour choice because the interpretation of the rules are about to get a lot less clear cut. Perhaps a grey flag should be used instead!
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Old 10 Sep 2019, 09:12 (Ref:3927103)   #12
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I am not sure about the black & white flag thing. We all know that most teams and drivers will push a rule to it's extremes in order to gain any little advantage. Will drivers see the black & white flag as a "free ticket" to allow them to move under braking or crowd another car off track?

Black & White is an ironic colour choice because the interpretation of the rules are about to get a lot less clear cut. Perhaps a grey flag should be used instead!
Yes, the irony in that!
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Old 10 Sep 2019, 09:19 (Ref:3927105)   #13
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Will drivers see the black & white flag as a "free ticket" to allow them to move under braking or crowd another car off track?
This, to me, highlights why it is also not the equivalent of a 'yellow card'.

When a footballer receives a yellow card, this 'reprimand' remains both for the rest of the game and beyond into following fixtures. Most people know that a player is removed from the pitch if they pick up a second yellow (which may align with a second case of unsporting behaviour in F1). But they also are subject to a one match ban after 5 yellow cards (2 after 10 etc).

If the Premier League season is 38 games, then a player will be suspended if he is yellow carded 13% of the time. For the same to apply to F1, then a driver should be suspended after his third Black/White flag.

Thinking about it, this might be the best way to implement the flag - 3 strikes and you're out!
This would allow for the occasional indiscretion, as we saw with LeClerc recently, and still allow the drivers to race. But if LeClerc was to be flagged again in a future race, he would have to be very careful in later races.
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Old 10 Sep 2019, 10:29 (Ref:3927128)   #14
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The fact that a driver now knows he can make one indiscretion and get away with it was my concern over the flag use, so if the warning was kept on record for the next GPs that would be sensible IMO..... For that reason itís unlikely to happen!

Wipe the slate clean at the end of the season?
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Old 10 Sep 2019, 10:33 (Ref:3927130)   #15
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The fact that a driver now knows he can make one indiscretion and get away with it was my concern over the flag use, so if the warning was kept on record for the next GPs that would be sensible IMO..... For that reason itís unlikely to happen!

Wipe the slate clean at the end of the season?
I think it should be kept on record for a rolling 12 months (like I presume the current penalty points system works?). That would stop drivers being overly aggressive in the first few races.
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