Ross Brawn says that Mercedes dropped its appeal against Michael Schumacher’s Monaco penalty because it didn’t feel it could win and didn’t want the distraction of a legal case.
Mercedes dropped the appeal a few days after the Monaco race, but curiously at the same time the FIA admitted that it hadn’t got things right and was reviewing the regulations and their application. The FIA also wrote what was in effect a letter of apology to the Mercedes team. That made the decision to drop the appeal all the more unusual.
“I think there were several factors,” said Brawn. “One was a practical factor which was that if you recall two years ago we had a penalty that would have been a drive through but because it was after the race it was a time penalty [Hamilton at Spa]. And as you very well know that whole thing went to court and it was deemed you can’t appeal that type of penalty. So there was that in our minds as well.
“There was also the issue that we know Fernando was told not to race and Michael was told to race. I think if Fernando had been told to race, Michael probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity. So it seemed a bit unsporting.
“Quite frankly we decided to spend our energy on trying to produce a quicker car, because going to appeal and all the rest of it absorbs a lot of my time and the engineers’, preparing documentation, time in Paris. But we just concluded it was in our best interests not to do it. But we did feel that we had a very strong case as I think you’ve seen.
“I think the positive reaction from the FIA in terms of reviewing the whole situation is that [they admitted] there was a lot of ambiguity in reviewing the regulations, so one of those unfortunate things, but we just concluded we should move on.”
Meanwhile the FIA is looking at ways of having a fairer range of penalties.
“I think it was agreed that the time penalty that effectively put Michael to last is not a very balanced penalty. Somebody could have made a simple mistake, and because that’s the penalty applied, they would have gone straight to the back of the field because the cars were all bunched up.
“So they are going to look at that and see if there’s another scale of penalties that’s more appropriate in those particular circumstances. And I think the stewards, from what I understood, wanted to just reverse the order, but they had no capacity to. There was nothing in the regulations that allowedthem to do that.”
Curiously it seems to have been overlooked that the FIA Sporting Code, which operates in parallel with the F1 Sporting Regulations, does already give some scope for different penalties. Last year in a Porsche Supercup race supporting a Grand Prix a driver was given a 1s penalty to reverse a position.