Mercedes drops Monaco appeal

Mercedes GP has dropped its appeal against the decision that dropped Michael Schumacher from sixth to 12th at the Monaco GP.

While the team (and some of its rivals) believe it has a good case, it has accepted that is is unlikely to win a legal battle, despite the obvious anomalies in the rules. This was the first time that a safety car had been withdrawn on the last lap of the race under the new rules that allow drivers to race from the safety car line at the pit entry.

What the FIA should have done to avoid any confusion was to use the message “The race will be completed under the safety car” on the timing screens, instead of saying that it would be “in this lap.”

Had the stewards not acted on Sunday, rivals teams would have protested – and Toro Rosso, who stood to gain 10th place, were literally first in the queue. However two teams, not surprisingly those with nothing to gain from Michael’s penalty, told this writer that Ross Brawn’s interpretation was perfectly valid.

Mercedes has also questioned the scale of the penalty. Logic suggests that swapping of Schumacher and Alonso in the results would have been fair, which could have been achieved by a 1sec penalty. However the only weapon the stewards had was a drive through. Mercedes says the FIA has agreed to look into both that and the safety car rules at the next meeting of the Sporting Working Group.

The team’s statement reads as follows: “On the final lap of the 2010 Monaco Grand Prix, MERCEDES GP PETRONAS instructed our drivers, Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg, to race from safety car line one until the finish line as permitted under articles 40.7 and 40.11.

“MERCEDES GP PETRONAS were fully aware of article 40.13 which states that no overtaking is permitted if the race finishes under safety car conditions. However we believed that the combination of the race control messages ‘Safety Car in this lap’ and ‘Track Clear’ and the green flags and lights shown by the marshals after safety car line one indicated that the race was not finishing under the safety car and all drivers were free to race.

“This opinion appears to have been shared by the majority of the teams with cars in the top ten positions who also gave their drivers instructions to race to the finish line.

“It was clear from our discussions with the stewards after the race that they understood the reasons for our interpretation and acknowledged that this was a new and previously untested situation but ultimately disagreed with our interpretation.

“MERCEDES GP PETRONAS would like to emphasise that we fully support the inclusion of past drivers on the stewards panel and are completely satisfied that the Monaco Grand Prix stewards acted professionally, impartially and properly in this matter.

“The FIA has agreed to include article 40.13 on the agenda of the next Sporting Working Group for discussion and to consider the scale of post race penalties. We believe that the 20 second penalty imposed on Michael to be disproportionate in the circumstances.

“Whilst we cannot be happy with the outcome, we are pleased that the FIA has recognised the reasons for our interpretation. Therefore in the best interests of the sport, MERCEDES GP PETRONAS will not be submitting an appeal.”

9 Comments

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9 responses to “Mercedes drops Monaco appeal

  1. CARSON44

    A shame really, as they could have used the points. I wonder if Alonso was interpeting the rules the same as Mercedes, it dosn’t seem as though he’d be easily passed on the last lap if he was in the fight.

  2. tom baker

    It looked to me like Alonso got caught napping and then had wheelspin.

    I’m completely flabbergasted by this decision not to appeal. It has caused me to lose all interest in Mercedes GP. I’ve been a Schumacher supporter for many years, but no more. Not after this.

    Come on Felipe, come on Fernando!

  3. CARSON44

    Tom,
    Mercedes explanation of their understanding of the rules seems understandable. I, and it seems a few other teams, think they may have been correct. But theirposition in the points this season wasn’t worth the fight for them or the sport. I think they should be congratulated for withdrawing the appeal and accepting the results.

    • I think you are basically right. They made their points very well and all that aggro for a sixth place might not be worth it given that the FIA is unlikely to rescind a drive through, even a 20s post race one, unless the circumstances are exceptional

  4. FletcherB

    It seems the stewards have gone for the spirit or intention of the rules, rather than an exact interpretation of whats actually written.

    I’d always been lead to believe this was exactly not what is supposed to be done in these situations?

    I understand teams not wanting to make waves politically, especially as the rules also say the penalty couldnt be undone even if they were correct.

    Its a shame…. Mercedes were on strong ground I think, but I can see why, with the issue with the poorly worded rules (or poorly enacted by race-control)… going to be fixed in the near future, they are withdrawing diplomatically.

  5. Alberto Dietz

    Top marks to Mssrs. Todt, Brawn and Schumacher.

  6. Proesterchen

    It’s a shame that instead of seeing this through, Mercedes chose to give in to political pressure. I hope, for their sake, that they stand to gain from this decision materially in the future.

    • It’s clear that they talked with the FIA as they mention the next Sporting Working Group, so they must have a fair idea of what they would have faced in a court room and presumably decided to cut their losses.

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