Max Verstappen was in suspense twice last week. Initially after Mercedes requested a right of review, and then because he allegedly ignored yellow flags during qualifying.
On Saturday, three hours after qualifying, the message came out that Verstappen had to go to the stewards. Michael Masi explains why it took so long.
“First I had to see where all the cars were on the track. Then I have to look at all the images of the top ten and study the data. That takes time and you want to make sure you have everything.”
“Once I got around to it, I looked at who had done what, what was shown in terms of flags and what was not. Then I passed everything on to the stewards and they call people on the mat.”
Verstappen had to wait a long time
Because it was already so late, Verstappen, like Bottas and Sainz, only had to visit the stewards on Sunday. These then went into deliberation and at 13:30, 21.5 hours after qualifying, the Dutchman knew that he had a penalty for the Qatari Grand Prix.
Masi explains why it sometimes takes so long for the stewards to make a judgment after everyone has visited. Last Thursday it also took a long time before they came to a verdict in the case that Mercedes had filed against the decision not to punish Verstappen.
In the end, a judgment was only made on Friday, early in the afternoon. Masi explains why the stewards don’t always work very fast. “Maybe there are similar things sometimes. The stewards always want to nuance their decisions, so that’s why they include those details in the decision.”
“It takes time to go through that process. Write the concept, rewrite, rewrite again, etc. That’s the first part.”
Teams must be able to protest
Another aspect that according to the FIA race director comes into play is the fact that the teams must be able to give text and explanation. That sometimes takes a lot of time, as was the case last week for example.
“The other part is that the teams should be given a chance to present their case. In Brazil, for example, it took a total of two days. Mercedes spent a total of about two and a half hours making their case with the stewards!”
“So you also have to take that into account, together with sessions that are also in between,” continues Masi, who also points to the present journal.
“It’s not as simple as it sounds. Some stewards would be fine with just writing that someone has broken the rules and will be punished. A few years ago, however, everyone here (the journalists, ed.) wanted a clearer explanation to have.”
Judgment first, explanation later?
Can’t one just share what the judgment is first so that a clearer explanation can be given later? No, Masi judges as RacingNews365 asks him about it.
“That’s a fair point, but you also have to keep in mind that there are time limits on any protests that teams can make. The teams have to be able to protest, so all those time limits come into play.”
And what about the teams? For example, Red Bull only knew two hours before the race whether Verstappen would start from P2 or P7. That while the strategy has already been widely and widely discussed. The FIA man gets the point, but it’s simply very difficult because of all the rules.
“We also have to think about all the timeframes. Some people are not always available. For example, there is a curfew (when team members have to be away from the track because they are no longer allowed to work), so those kinds of things come into play too. Saturday, for example, very late and not everyone was at the track anymore fresh.”
The traveling Formula 1 circus
During a triple header, such as the one we just completed, it also becomes difficult to find a suitable moment for all parties to come together, Masi explains finally, referring to the new evidence (images) that the FIA has provided. could not publish until a day after the race in Brazil.
“Of course you also have to think about the logistics side of the story. We had to go from Brazil to Qatar. For example, I went back to Qatar very quickly after the race, so those images came just before I got on the plane. The stewards were then gone too.”
“When we got off the plane fifteen hours later, those new images quickly came out. So that was purely due to the fact that we were traveling from one country to another,” said the race director.
Verstappen must hope for a miracle from Red Bull and Honda
Although Max Verstappen is heading for the last two races as leader in the Formula 1 championship, the Dutchman will have to hope for a small miracle from Red Bull and Honda.