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FIA considering five-second penalty

ESPN Staff
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The stewards feel the current drive-through penalty can be too harsh in some instances © Sutton Images

The FIA is looking at the possibility of introducing a five-second time penalty for borderline track limit infringements.

The potential new penalty is being discussed following the controversial incident involving Romain Grosjean and Felipe Massa during the Hungarian Grand Prix, with the stewards' hands tied as a drive-through penalty was the most lenient punishment available to them. McLaren sporting director Sam Michael confirmed that a five-second penalty was being considered, but that in which form it could be applied is still being debated.

"That was a discussion that started about a year ago and that was discussed again at the sporting group a couple of days ago," Michael said. "It's difficult, because it's a tricky thing to do to go and lose five seconds in a lap, but what you've got to keep in mind is it's that versus a 12-seconds penalty for a drive through - sometimes more - so it would be good to put something in there, it's just practically how do you implement it?

"What the stewards are saying is 'Listen, that's the minimum penalty that we can inflict in a race where we think a fine or a reprimand is not good enough because you've done something wrong, but actually a drive through is really harsh'. So they're trying to find an intermediate point, and there's various ideas of what you could do. They might come in next year or they might come in as an experimentation as well to see how they work during the race."

A straight five-second penalty added to the final race time is one option which is being considered, though there are reservations about drivers finishing in a different order on track. Grosjean himself believes

"It's always hard to decide. If you follow the rules from Hungary then yes I went outside the track but there is another rule that says you have to avoid a collision and when you see Felipe's front wing there I did try to avoid a collision. So it's 50:50, so maybe yes something a bit less harsh that is a little bit in between when we agree to disagree would be nice.

"I don't know if they can give [a penalty] afterwards. They could say 'Yes you're going to get a penalty' so you can do your race and push hard to try and get a gap to the guys behind. Or they could say slow for a lap, but if you slow down then you could block the guys behind, so it's hard to know what to do."

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