• European Grand Prix

Livid Ferrari calls for safety car rule change

ESPNF1 Staff
June 28, 2010 « Sutil hails 'amazing result' | »

Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali has called for the safety car rules to be revised in order for the sport to remain credible.

At last weekend's European Grand Prix, Ferrari's race was ruined by the timing of the safety car joining the circuit. After Mark Webber's huge crash, it peeled out of pit lane alongside Lewis Hamilton's McLaren and the two Ferrari's but Hamilton got caught in two minds as to whether he should go ahead of the safety car or drop in behind it. Under the regulations he was allowed to pass it up until the safety car line - painted across the circuit at the end of the pit lane - but in the end he overtook it marginally afterwards.

However, the two Ferraris did not get past and as a result had to complete a lap behind the safety car before they could pit for tyres. Meanwhile, the rest of the field either pitted immediately, or in the case of Hamilton and Vettel, completed another reasonably fast lap before stopping for tyres. The Ferrari's lost out on a huge amount of time as a result and rejoined the field way down the order.

Hamilton was issued a drive-through penalty for his actions, but Alonso was still critical after the race as the decision took 12 laps to be announced and it was a further four laps before Hamilton served his punishment. As a result he was able to build up a lead over Kamui Kobayashi in third place and hold onto second position after the penalty.

Domenicali has now called for the rules to be tidied up.

"The outcome of this grand prix leaves us with a very bitter taste," he said. "We had everything we needed to clinch a good result and we have ended up with a handful of points which is even less than we brought home from our worst race, a month ago in Turkey. It is a real shame because over this weekend we have shown that we have made a good step forward in terms of performance and the opening stage of the race looked promising. Then came the unfortunate blow linked to the safety car period, which arrived at the very worst moment for us in that both our cars had just gone past the pit lane entry and therefore were forced to do a full lap behind the safety car. And that definitely compromised our race.

"I think that the incidents linked to the neutralisation put some questions on the table regarding how to manage situations like this and the eventual penalties linked to them. We have to ensure that our sport remains credible in the eyes of those involved and those who follow it, at the track and in front of their TV screens."

He added that the contentious issue was that Hamilton had not been called into the pits earlier for his penalty earlier by the FIA.

"We need to be careful by avoiding to take a counter-constructive attitude and complaining just for the sake of it, because it's useless," said Domenicali. "We need to be very calm at these times, but we can't pretend nothing has happened. However, I repeat, rationality must prevail over emotions, which are very strong.

"I think what needs to be done is evaluating the sanction by keeping in mind the time of the decision and the way the race is developing. These are important issues. Looking back during the post-race analysis, it's clear that you are advantaged by not following the rules because at the end of day you gained more points. This is not alright from the point of view of the principle of the sporting regulation, and we need to work on it. I think we need to believe in the principles: it worked this way today, let's hope it's different next time."

Massa said the two Ferraris had been punished for a mistake made by Hamilton.

"The difference between us and Hamilton is that he committed an infraction and we did not, but his penalty had no effect on his result," he said. "I think that errors were made in the way this situation was managed. From then on, our race was practically one long procession in traffic with no chance of changing anything. A real shame because today we could have done really well."

Ferrari vice president Piero Ferrari also raised his concerns about the impact of the result on the sport.

"I am incredulous and bitter, not just for Ferrari, but for the sport as a whole, as this is not the sort of thing one expects from professionals," he said. "For a long time now, I have also followed races in championships in the United States, where the appearance of the safety car is a frequent occurrence. But I have never seen anything similar to what happened at the Valencia circuit. If it raises some doubts over the actions that led to a false race, to me that would seem more than reasonable."