What is going on with the FIA and its penalty implementations?
Not like they've ever really had it together.
This weekend, Formula 1 was back at it in Sochi! However, as it typical of this track, it was not as exciting as some of the previous races we've had this year, despite some exhilarating overtakes (maybe we're just really spoiled now?). That said, it did bring the question, once again, as to the consistency of the FIA's penalties and rules.
To give some context, in this instance, Lewis Hamilton was given two 5-second penalties, through two different rules articles for performing practice starts in an incorrect area (video in link below). This, initially, also added 2 points onto Hamilton's Super License, putting him 2 points away from a race ban. These were later retracted by the stewards however, after the determining that Hamilton had been instructed by the team to perform them in that area.
This, truthfully, leaves me quite baffled. Does the implication that it's not an error if the team orders the misdemeanor not leave the door open for other teams to do the same? Why, if the possibility of a team order was available in the first place, did the stewards not listen to the team audio before handing Hamilton the double-penalty? After all, it was a possibility all along, and it definitely ruined the race for Hamilton.
For me, the penalty should have just stood as it was originally announced. There was an error on Hamilton's part (although he claims to have "done this at a million tracks over the years and never been questioned over it"), but I'm not honestly not sure why it would be illegal in the first place, though that, I suppose is a separate issue. If they remove the penalty points from Hamilton's license, they should probably at least enforce a penalty on the Mercedes F1 team as a whole. There was an error, there should be a repercussion.
George Russell, Alex Albon, and Lando Norris battling it out! Photo from F1 social media.
My point then is this: rules are needed; rules should be enforced, but they only work if they are enforced properly after careful analysis. Otherwise, the door for loopholes, misunderstandings, and arguments opens up wider than any organization can manage, and the structure of it all falls to the ground. Do better, FIA.
Setting this aside, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Norris, Albon, Russell, and the rest of the midfield (can't believe I'm calling a Red Bull "mid-field") battle it out. We definitely have some future World Driver Champions in there!