Yesterday’s Monaco GP saw plenty of action, right till the final corner of the race when the safety car returned to its bay for the fourth time. Everyone else took the last corner in procession, except for one Michael Schumacher, who couldn’t help but to display his opportunist streak to the world again when he overtook Fernando Alonso for sixth.
The stewards did not find it funny and handed the seven-time champion a 20-second penalty, pushing the German to 12th place and with zero points after an otherwise good day at the office.
Stewards deemed the race was still finishing under the safety car. Rule 40.13 states that “if the race ends whilst the safety car is deployed it will enter the pitlane at the end of the last lap and the cars will take the chequered flag as normal without overtaking.”
Mercedes boss Ross Brawn revealed a different interpretation of the situation. “There’s a regulation which is new this year that says you can race between safety car line one and the start/finish line. We were advised before the end of the race that the safety car was coming in. There was no instruction that the race was going to finish under the safety car, so for us as soon as we got the instruction ‘safety car in this lap’ at 15:51 we considered the race was now on again.
“And I think you saw the reaction of all the other drivers. If what Stefano (Domenicali, Ferrari boss) has said was true, they would just cruise to the start/finish line because they knew they couldn’t be overtaken, but everyone went for it and I’m afraid Fernando was a little asleep and we took advantage,” he told the BBC.
Mercedes GP Petronas has appealed the decision, which will now be handled by the FIA’s Court of Appeal.