Penalty inconsistency due to ‘infinite possibilities’

Date published: July 29 2021 - Henry Valantine

Alex Wurz

Grand Prix Drivers’ Association chairman Alex Wurz believes deciding exact rules of engagement on overtaking is a tough task, due to how unique each driver collision is.

In his personal opinion, Wurz believes the collision between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen at Silverstone came under the bracket of being a racing incident – particularly where who was to blame appeared to not be clear-cut in that situation.

The GPDA head is in regular contact with the drivers and runs through certain situations of how they battle on track, bringing in the FIA on their conversation to try and provide clarity where possible.

But despite that, Wurz admits that there’s only so much that can be done due to the volatility of a racing environment.

“That’s a really difficult one because there is just an infinity (sic) amount of possibilities,” Wurz told Sky Sports News, when asked whether or not rules of overtaking and hard racing could be better explained or framed to the drivers.

“The GPDA are sitting down with the FIA and running through many situations, accidents and incidents and helping to have a joint understanding of what is acceptable and not acceptable.

“But, of course, there is the ‘racing incident’ and in my opinion this is what happened in Silverstone. These two drivers were racing hard, and they had contact and, in my opinion, it was a racing incident.

“There is always a spectrum of percentage who is more at fault or less at fault, but bottom line is it’s not very clear and therefore it’s a racing incident.

“If it is in this grey line territory that’s where I personally think the description racing incident is the best one to use.”

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Hamilton picked up a 10-second penalty for his part in the collision during the British Grand Prix, but the punishment was heavily debated throughout the world of Formula 1.

The stewards came under fire for their handling of several on-track battles in Austria previously, with five-second penalties handed out liberally around the Red Bull Ring.

Regarding how the stewards handle situations, Wurz says that they are working together to find more consistency in how incidents are reviewed, but they are not able to pinpoint universal punishments because each collision or infringement is unique in its own way – even if they appear similar at first glance.

“We do talk amongst the drivers and there is a little bit of room for improvement to make it more consistent between the different stewards and between situations,” he said.

“But, honestly when you then start looking in detail of situations, many times they look and appear the same but they are different.

“Can there be more consistency? Yes. This is what we are really working on with the FIA and we are saluting their effort to have multiple meetings between all the stewards to come together, to look at the incidents, and then give a judgement between themselves and try to improve the collective output.

“Will it always be a million percent fair? No, we are not there yet, but of course the aim is to be as fair as possible.”