A big talking point in Austria on Thursday was the continuing feud between Felipe Massa and Sergio Perez.
The pair crashed and ended their Canadian grand prix in hospital, where the real dispute began. “I said that it was dangerous,” recalled Massa, “and that he needs to learn, but he just turned and left. “I will not trust him anymore, definitely not.”
The FIA, however, has agreed to revisit the issue of Perez’s five-place grid penalty for the Austrian grand prix, because the Mexican was still in hospital when he should have been interviewed by the Montreal stewards.
But it is on the very issue of driver penalties that F1 is about to turn a sharp corner. Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport said the FIA has acknowledged that the readiness with which penalties are given to drivers is beginning to affect their motivation to battle wheel-to-wheel. “The plan,” confirmed race director Charlie Whiting in Austria, “is that only serious and unequivocal violations will be punished from now.”
He clarified, however, that F1 is not making actual rule changes. “It’s just a different approach,” said Whiting. “The teams have promised not to bombard us with every little thing during the race. “And we will take the liberty to close cases (before they are investigated by the stewards) on the basis of how serious we regard it to be. And if we do initiate an investigation, there will be a clear culprit. “So there will be significantly more cases that could be judged as a ‘normal racing incident’.
Whiting said that the case of Perez and Massa’s heavy crash in Montreal, for example, would most certainly still be sent to the stewards for investigation. “But we want to issue a penalty only when the question of guilt is absolutely clear. In this case, we might conclude that it was a racing incident, because the guilt of one of the drivers is not 100 per cent,” he said.
Image: Force India