Haug: “Michael thought the race is on”

Mercedes motor sport boss Norbert Haug says that the team is convinced that its interpretation of the safety car rules is the correct one.

Ross Brawn has therefore appealed against the decision that led to Michael Schumacher losing his sixth place finish in Monaco after he passed Fernando Alonso on the last corner.

The rule says that if the race finishes when the safety car is deployed it will come into the pits and the cars will cross the line without overtaking.

However there is in essence a dispute over the wording. The Mercedes view is that the safety car was not deployed as its lights were out, it came into the pits, and the green flag was waved.

While it’s clear what the FIA’s intent was when the rules were written, there is obviously a conflict. The problem is a new one because from this year drivers can overtake after the first safety car line – in other words before the start line – after a ‘normal’ safety car withdrawal.

This was the first time we have had a situation where the race finished under a safety car that left open the possible interpretation that overtaking might be possible between the last corner and the flag. However, the FIA has made it clear that passing should not be allowed.

The key consideration is that the safety car can go into the pits on the last lap when the track is not yet clear (it was in this case), and thus in theory drivers could be racing past an accident scene on the pit straight. That clearly cannot happen.

Haug told this writer that Schumacher was convinced he was in the right: “He thought it’s green, safety car in, the race is on, I can overtake after the safety car line. Which looked smart and was our interpretation, and obviously it was not the FIA interpretation.

“We have a different one, and that’s why Ross wants to appeal. He spoke with the specialists. Certainly I know the rules, but I am not a rules specialist.”

The team has in effect bought time, and on reflection could yet withdraw the appeal. In addition the FIA has to decide whether the appeal is admissible, as in theory drive throughs, even those applied as retropective time penalties, cannot be appealed. One exception involved Jarno Trulli in Australia last year.

“You have to cover and support the decisions, that’s for sure,” Haug told me. “Whether it will be withdrawn or not, is a different matter.”


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15 responses to “Haug: “Michael thought the race is on”

  1. me

    did u write that the track was clear . ?

    please tell this is because of Hill . Lewis and others did all that and they get a reprimand . Schumi does what a racer does and he gets that

  2. RedLineTire

    I think the rule is pretty clear – what I don’t understand is why it’s done in the first place. Why not just leave the SC out and have it take the checker? Must F1 races finish under green?

    Otherwise you have this odd situation of a ‘green’ track where passing is not allowed by agreement…?

  3. Max

    Schumi and Mercedes got it right. The rules are ambigious and the Mercedes team should keep the points, while the FIA clarify the rules.

    This is a ridiculous penalty.

    But what are the chances of it being overturned?

  4. I honestly think this is one of the worst stewards decision ever, the track was clear, the safety car was out, and GREEN FLAGS were being waved.

    This is F1 not school yard play

  5. Jason C

    Either call (penalise or not penalise) would have been unfair; that’s because the marshalls showed the green flags, and yet there is this rule about not passing.

    In similar cases to this in future, I believe that the cars should be allowed to race to the finish. In a situation where the safety car rules are still required until the finish line (e.g. when as you say there is a hazard on the pit straight) then when the safety car goes into the pits the marshalls should make it unambiguous to the drivers that no racing is allowed by continuing to show the yellow flags and safety car boards.

    I believe in this case the race director mistakenly thought it would be a race to the finish, which is why the green flags. I have nothing to support this, but green flags are clearly inappropriate if no passing is allowed.

  6. Noahracer

    Who cares what Michael thought?
    He was one who also said “I didn’t see the black flag due to the sun!”
    Glad he was caught. Kind of also glad he didn’t wait all season to show his true self.

  7. FletcherB

    If race-control wanted to finish the race with rule 40.13 applying… “If the race ends whilst the safety car is deployed… blah,blah,blah”

    Then why did they exactly follow the proceedure for removing the safety car and resuming racing as described in 40.11 ? (safety car in message, SC boards and yellows removed, green shown).

    I’m no Schumacher fan, but I think Brawn/Mercedes are on strong ground…

    No matter what race-control intended, the signals they gave out indicated racing was on…

  8. tom baker

    Mercedes’ interpretation of the rule seems reasonable to me. Obviously if it were any lap other than the last lap there would be no problem. If rule 40.13 is supposed to be the one in effect then it should be expressed explicitly that the track going green does not take precedence over that rule.

    Come on, it’s not like people aren’t going to notice that an overtake has happened. Why would anyone do that if they knew it was prohibited? This is the governing body’s fault, let’s penalize them.

    The reasonable solution is to hear the appeal and nullify the penalty, restoring the order to what it was before the overtake.

    If I was Schumacher, and they don’t straighten this out, I wouldn’t return to Monaco again. Let Heidfeld go for a ride that weekend. That will hit them where it hurts – in the bank account!

  9. elephino

    This is so clear cut, it’s not funny.

    Safety car is deployed at the end of the race, rules state it will enter pit lane on the last lap and there’s no overtaking. The green flags are irrelevant.

    Not that it matters, because the penalty was a drive through (time added), there is no appeal allowed. Hamilton found this out at Spa.

    • Jomy John

      the green flags are relevant, becuz as stated by f1fanatic: If cars are not supposed to be racing at this point one might reasonably ask why green flags were being waved. The regulations say:

      As the safety car is approaching the pit entry the yellow flags and SC boards will be withdrawn and replaced by waved green flags with green lights at the Line. These will be displayed until the last car crosses the Line.

      However the green flags visible when Schumacher passed Alonso were before the finishing line. This makes Mercedes’ confusion rather more understandable.

      • elephino

        There’s a really big assumption there. Confusion would suggest that Schumacher suddenly decided to overtake and his movements suggest it was planned. So let’s rule any confusion out of this (misunderstanding of the rules is what’s occurred).

        (covering some comments by others as well here…)
        Mistakes were not made by the stewards. The stewards are only involved when required, not automatically or by their own viewing. There was a mistake made by the Race Director in either telling the marshalls to display the green flags or by not contradicting that order. Most likely this was because he did not know or understand reg 40.13 but there may be other reasons.

        Rule 40.13 by its wording overrides the green flags by stating no overtaking. Even though overtaking is allowed, it is needed to be stated in its own rule because under Safety Car (note, not ‘when behind the safety car’) conditiions you are not allowed to overtake. Overtaking after the first Safety Car line is the exception expressed in the regulations.

        The field is still under Safety Car conditions after the safety car line but before the finish/timing line. Once the Safety Car is called, the remainder of that lap and each whole subsequent lap until the SC is ordered back in is under safety car. The vehicle is a speed guide and controller, not the condition itself. If this is the misunderstanding that Ross Brawn has, then he’s missed something fundamental that all team managers and officials should know.

        The arguments put forward by MercGP sound more like an excuse for not having read the regs properly.

        I suspect that all of this has come out of China where there was a lot of overtaking into the last corner when the safety car was coming in and people took advantage of the new rules and no one bothered to check the fine print. Interestingly in China, you can overtake the SC on track as the SC line is prior to pit entry.

        So to recap: Last Lap when under safety car=no overtaking. Flags are irrelevant.

  10. Heiko

    The mistake was done by the race stewards, IMO.
    If they wanted the race to end under SC (as tehy obviously intented) there shouldnt have been green lights/flags and the SC line!
    Instead, the finish should have looked like this

    (from 2009 race and under sc)

  11. Historically, if more than 90% of the common individual agree that the Race Stewards got it wrong, then the Mercedes appeal will fail.

    And besides, Mr. Alonso’s car was going so far sideways, I would have passed him as well, fearing getting collected in the back end of the Ferrari, when the car nosed into the wall.

    Right or wrong, I think Mr. Schumacher attempted to avoid a racing incident, by driving around the then sideways Ferrari of Mr. Alonso.

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