Handed a penalty for first corner contact, Pierre Gasly was aggrieved by the stewards’ call but Michael Masi insists he was “wholly to blame”.
Gasly made contact with Fernando Alonso at Turn 1 on the opening lap of the Turkish Grand Prix, punting the Alpine driver into a spin.
While Alonso labelled Gasly “stupid”, the AlphaTauri driver was immediately on the radio telling his team that had been “sandwiched” between Alonso and Sergio Perez.
As that is how it looked to most people, it came as a surprise when the Race Stewards announced a five-second penalty for the Frenchman.
They justified their decision, saying Gasly “caused a collision with Alonso during lap 1” and that he was “wholly at fault for the collision, as he did not leave enough space for Alonso on the outside”.
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 10, 2021
Gasly recovered from his penalty to finish the grand prix in sixth place.
F1 race director Michael Masi was asked about the penalty and explained that as he was deemed to be “wholly to blame”, the rules, which the drivers themselves agreed on at the start of the season, meant he had to be penalised.
“If we go back to the start of the year before the first event, following discussions with the drivers and the teams we had to sort of ratchet back a little bit to let them sort out the race principles in general,” he said as per Motorsport.com.
“And one of them was first-lap incidents and that if a driver was wholly to blame for an incident, then it would likely result in a penalty. And in that one the stewards determined that Pierre was wholly to blame for the incident. And as a result, a five-second penalty was imposed.”
It begs the question why Gasly was penalised when Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton’s contact on the opening lap at Imola went unpunished.
That, Masi says, is because both played a role in that drama.
“I think if you look at the Max and Lewis one, it’s one of those the wholly or predominantly, under our regulations,” he said. “For ease of interpretation, let’s call it, if someone is wholly to blame on lap one, it will result in a penalty.
“If it takes two to tango and it is on lap one it would likely not result in anything, or if there’s more than the two cars involved. But if it’s quite clear, two cars, one has done it, then a penalty would happen.”
As for Perez’s part in the collision, Masi insisted that was not a major factor, it was all Gasly’s driving.
“So that was one of the things why it probably took a little bit longer at the start, to have a closer look at,” he added.
“Obviously Sergio was on the inside, but once it was quite clear from all of the footage and everything available, that’s why they determined that it was a five-second penalty.”
Winners and losers from the Turkish Grand Prix
Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen will be pleased with their races, but even after rising through the field, Lewis Hamilton was one of the big losers in the Turkish Grand Prix.