• Monaco Grand Prix

Mercedes will not appeal Schumacher penalty

ESPNF1 Staff
May 18, 2010 « Hill has doubts over benefits of driver stewards | »
Mercedes has decided against appealing Michael Schumacher's penalty for overtaking under the safety car © Sutton Images

Mercedes will not appeal the penalty imposed on Michael Schumacher for passing Fernando Alonso on the final lap of the Monaco Grand Prix.

Schumacher snuck past Alonso into the final corner after the safety car had returned to the pits to allow race leader Mark Webber to cross the line at full speed. As a result, Schumacher was hit with a 20 second post-race penalty - dropping him from sixth place to 12th - on the grounds that he had contravened article 40.13 of the sporting regulations, which states that no overtaking is allowed if the race finishes under a safety car. Mercedes believed that racing had resumed because the safety car had peeled back into the pits and green flags were shown on track but, after deliberating for two days as to whether it should lodge an appeal, decided not to take any action.

"On the final lap of the 2010 Monaco Grand Prix, Mercedes GP Petronas instructed our drivers, Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg, to race from safety car line one until the finish line as permitted under articles 40.7 and 40.11," read a statement from the team.

"Mercedes GP Petronas were fully aware of article 40.13 which states that no overtaking is permitted if the race finishes under safety car conditions. However we believed that the combination of the race control messages 'Safety Car in this lap' and 'Track Clear' and the green flags and lights shown by the marshals after safety car line one indicated that the race was not finishing under the safety car and all drivers were free to race.

"This opinion appears to have been shared by the majority of the teams with cars in the top ten positions who also gave their drivers instructions to race to the finish line.

"It was clear from our discussions with the stewards after the race that they understood the reasons for our interpretation and acknowledged that this was a new and previously untested situation but ultimately disagreed with our interpretation."

Mercedes said it had decided not to appeal in light of the FIA's decision to tidy up the regulations and make the regulations clearer.

"The FIA has agreed to include article 40.13 on the agenda of the next Sporting Working Group for discussion and to consider the scale of post race penalties. We believe that the 20 second penalty imposed on Michael to be disproportionate in the circumstances.

"Whilst we cannot be happy with the outcome, we are pleased that the FIA has recognised the reasons for our interpretation. Therefore in the best interests of the sport, Mercedes GP Petronas will not be submitting an appeal."

Schumacher's ex-title rival Damon Hill was on the Monaco stewards panel, leading to wild suggestions from his fans that the decision had been biased. However, Mercedes confirmed that Hill's part in the decision had not been an issue.

"Mercedes GP Petronas would like to emphasise that we fully support the inclusion of past drivers on the stewards panel and are completely satisfied that the Monaco Grand Prix stewards acted professionally, impartially and properly in this matter."