Ross Brawn says FIA don’t help Ferrari. Senna’s GP2 penalty says otherwise

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Bruno Senna, unlike Felipe Massa, got a penalty for his alleged unsafe release
Bruno Senna, unlike Felipe Massa, got a penalty for his alleged unsafe release

The FIA stewards have further muddied the waters about what an “unsafe release” from the pits is.

They gave a penalty to GP2 driver Bruno Senna for incident that was almost identical to the one involving Ferrari’s Felipe Massa at Valencia two weeks ago – when Massa got no penalty.

In today’s GP2 feature race at Spa-Francorchamps Bruno Senna was released from the pits alongside the Durango car of Alberto Valerio, just as Massa was released alongside Adrian Sutil. In a near carbon copy of the Valencia controversy, Senna drove alongside Valerio’s car before slotting in behind it. Senna, like Massa, was leading the race before his pit stop.

The FIA stewards described Massa’s move as “Unsafe release from pit stop, although no sporting advantage was obtained.?? It’s hard to see how the same assessment does not apply to Bruno Senna.

After the Valencia incident Ferrari were told the matter would be investigated after the race, and then received a ??10,000 (??7,979) penalty. It was clear they didn’t expect Massa to get a time penalty, as his lap times fell off sharply towards the end of the race.

But in the GP2 race the announcement very quickly came that Senna was being investigated, and he was shortly given a standard drive-through penalty. Senna’s team mate Karun Chandhok received a penalty under similar circumstances at Valencia, although in that case it was clear he had delayed a competitor. Senna did not seem to.

Afterwards Senna said:

I am really sad about the rules not being applied consistently. Nothing happened at Silverstone when I had to lock-up to avoid [Lucas] di Grassi, and Massa was only fined for what happened in Valencia.

On ITV’s coverage before the Belgian Grand Prix qualifying session ex-Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn was denied the FIA treat the Italian team leniently in such matters.

Robert McKay on the F1 Fanatic Live Blog remarked:

Ferrari don’t get special treatment, everyone else just gets unfavourable treatment.

This kind of inconsistency is precisely why so many people believe that.

As far as I’m concerned, both releases from the pits were unsafe, but only Senna got the correct penalty.

More on the Massa penalty: Fine for Ferrari, Massa gets off free and the FIA gets it wrong on every count

Update: GP2 feature race report – Romain Grosjean wins at Spa; Bruno Senna gets a penalty

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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32 comments on “Ross Brawn says FIA don’t help Ferrari. Senna’s GP2 penalty says otherwise”

  1. Paul Sainsbury
    6th September 2008, 17:21

    Yeah, this needs to be sorted out quickly. Otherwise there will be an accident in the pitlane and no one wants to see that.

  2. Other handlings could be “usafe release” but marshals did not take any action against them, and team had not been fined. I think what happened in Valencia was not news, as it happened many times in the past, so I didn’t expect Massa was punished. Anyway, it’s time FIA clarify the rule: in Spa the pit-lane is very narrow. I don’t want an accident happens tomorrow in race :-(

  3. Oh, they’ll clarify the rule all right, probably when it’s a Ferrari that a car is being released into the path of.

  4. I watched the GP2 Senna pit lane race incident and frankly the stewards have been consistent in their inconsistency as per usual. I really think its amazing and if anything it has simply proved that Ferrari do indeed simply get preferential treatment… despite what people may say. Tut tut FIA

  5. OH god… not the tin foil hats again…..:o)

  6. AC – presumably then you didn’t think Senna’s ‘unsafe release’ was similar to Massa’s? Can I ask why?

  7. I still don’t agree, although I do think they should clarify the rules regarding when cars can or should be released in the event of a car approaching in the fast lane.

  8. Was there any rule change after the Massa incident?

    I remember back in 2005 a similar incident had occurred. There was a safety car incident and Kimi was running close behind Montoya when the cars were called to pit. Kimi chose to drive from the exit of the track to the pits very slowly to avoid cars behind him getting an advantage and overtaking him, as he would have to wait behind his teammate. Kimi received a warning at the end of the race

    Fisichella repeated the act a race or two later and was given a drive thru penalty almost instantly.

    It was later known that FIA had instructed the teams to tell their drivers not to drive slowly to the pit entry. Back then even Fisi complained after the race that Kimi was getting preferential treatment.

    Later it was known that it was just a case of the team(Renault) not telling the driver what he could or could not do.

    Maybe this is a repeat incident. Even if its not the possibility that FIA hit hard on Senna can be to cut the possibility of drivers starting to bend that particular rule. Its not the first time FIA have excused the first usage of loophole in the rules and chosen to punish thereafter.

    PS: If Massa or Kimi (or is it Ferrari) do the same mistake again and go unpunished, then its probably acceptable to cry foul.

  9. Are we still talking about this?????

  10. Dizzy,

    Yes, but it’ll stop when the FIA starts being fair.

  11. “it was clear they didn’t expect Massa to get a time penalty, as his lap times fell off sharply towards the end of the race.”


    You mean he wasn’t slowing down to conserve his engine, given the resent failures of his engine in the previous race, and only minutes before, Kimi’s engine failure?

  12. TB – I’m quite sure he was slowing down to conserve his engine. But they wouldn’t have done that if they thought there was a threat of him getting a time penalty after the race had finished. Which, as Alianora pointed out in the other comment thread, was one of the penalties he might have received.

  13. The rule is crystal clear. If you release a driver who has to slow to let someone pass it is an unsafe release. If a driver already in the fast lane has to take any kind of avoiding action even if it is only lifting off the throttle it is an unsafe release. The only people who don’t understand it are Ferrari and the FIA.

  14. Jonesracing82
    7th September 2008, 0:55

    i honestly think the fact massa got away with his incident does set a dangerous precedent!
    all we all want is consistancy and only ferrari seem to get away with things that others get pinged for!
    hence y i hate them

  15. I’m sure we will see this that happened with Bruno Senna happening tomorrow again.Probably wet pitlane, faster cars! And Pantano was suspended from the race tomorrow.GP2 is another world

  16. What annoys me about the Massa ruling was that he got a fine instead of the correct penalty. What are the stewards saying? Masa was, kind of, sort of, almost in the wrong?

    Either he was at fault or he wasn’t.You can’t get a little bit pregnant.

  17. I agree with all the previous posts. Time and again the FIA give Ferrari the rub of the green, and time and again their rivals get punished for the same offence.
    We used to blame it on Michael Schumacher, but I am beginning to doubt that now. How can the FIA fine Massa, which is admitting that he committed an offence, and not dock him or his team points? If Massa was innocent of any rule breaking, why fine him or Ferrari at all?
    Is it just a case of the FIA not wanting to see McLaren run away with this year’s championship? Make the show a little more interesting perhaps. I am sure that McLaren would have been docked points, fined, and sent back ten places on the grid at the next race, had Massa’s mishap befallen them instead.
    Alot of people have turned their backs on Formula One due to this one sided decision making, as it defeats the whole object of the sport. As Senna once said of Prost;

    “He wants to be the only one wearing spiked shoes, and for everybody else to run in led boots”.

    This quote reminds me of the Scuderia everytime I hear it!

  18. Well the same thing happened in Valencia already. After stewards announced Massa’s pitlane incident was to be investigated Anthony Davidson had someting to say on it (I listened to him on the Kangaroo TV but not sure for whom he was commenting, it may have been the BBC Radio).

    Davidson said something along the lines that Massa/Sutil incident was nothing special that would require a harsh penalty or penalty itself. But … he wondered how would stewards justify not penalizing Massa, when Chandhok got drive through penalty for exactly the same thing in GP2 … Well, history repeated itself again.

    Perhaps it is not about Ferrari and others but GP2 and F1 :-)

  19. Considering what happens to Ferrari and McLaren, I’m sure Max Mosley is still president of the FIA, yes I’m quite sure…..
    Considering we have a close title race, again, this year, I’m sure that Bernie Ecclestone still runs Formula One, yes I’m quite sure of that also…..
    Didn’t Nigel Mansell say in 1994 that he was told not to affect the title race between Schumacher and Hill in Adelaide, yes I’m sure I heard that, yes I’m quire sure he moved over and let them both through…..

  20. They should fine the Spa organizers for having a dangerously narrow pit lane.

    I saw the incident, and I think Senna should not have been penalised. He did not affect the race result, he slotted in behind the guy already in the fast lane, and he didn’t hit any pit crew (although it was close).

    “The rule is crystal clear. If you release a driver who has to slow to let someone pass it is an unsafe release.”

    Agreed, by this definition it WAS an unsafe release, but let’s be realistic here. You’re asking too much of the lollipop man. It’s very difficult to watch his crew and judge the speed of an approaching car if it’s a close call.

    They should have a fast lane, and an accelerating/decelerating lane, in the pits, and allow side-by-side driving with the man in the fast lane having preference.

    Alternatively, electronically monitor cars in the fast lane and block any release if there’s a car in the potential collision zone.

  21. Senna’s pit at Spa 2008

    @martinb – watch the mechanics at next box … they just jump from their places to avoid Senna’s car … is it safe ?:)

  22. For me it was clearly unsafe, but different for the release of massa, as in Valencia they had enough space to run in parallel until the wall on the end of the pit, and then massa braked so let the advantage to who was before on the run.

    Given this i still think that the FIA is being erratic, as this kind of treatment let´s room for improvisation and unfairness. It should be specifically forbidden to be at pair with another car at any moment on the pits, with this i think the rule would be clearer and the openness to the stewards to have a mistake.

    And i still think that a sanction to mass would be very unfair as this very season it was not the only incident in f1 and they also got away with nothing.

    The rule needs clarification

  23. Keith i need help here – GP2 cars have 4 litre engines that produce only 432kW compared to smaller Formula 1 cars that have 2.4 litre engines that produce 582kW. How is it possible that the cars with the smaller engine produce more power and are 10 seconds faster than the cars with a bigger engine?

  24. then they (FIA) must do it … not just to wait and see how race will finish and then grab a magic ball and “invent” something new … also it was clear that Massa break the rules … stewards release a note that he did … just like Senna did it … so when they admin that there is a something, they just need to follow their rules … or write a new new one BUT we need to see every time the same … end of story

  25. It seems most of you guys have only recently started watching F1. Recordings of many previous races in the past show some serious mistakes which went unpunished. Sorry the team you are backing has not the history of Ferrari guys.

  26. “Sorry the team you are backing has not the history of Ferrari guys.”

    What’s that got to do with anything? Because Ferrari have more history more decisions ought to go there way?

    “They should have a fast lane, and an accelerating/decelerating lane, in the pits, and allow side-by-side driving with the man in the fast lane having preference.”

    Yes – that is exactly what they should have and then releasing a driver would not be a problem. Arguably the problem would just be moved to the driver feeding into the fast lane, but that should be much more easy to judge.

  27. Nobody is above the law but some people think Ferrari is being given preferential treatment. My point is that this is not so in early and late history but some guys miss the point and always take the opportunity to knock Ferrari. There have been some near misses in the pits before. Why bitch now all of a sudden? The present rules made to stop straight car/driver versus car/driver competition were brought in to stop Ferrari’s domination of F1 and Bernie was concerned that viewers would drop off. It seems some people hate a champion.

  28. I forgot to mention that yours is a good suggestion Robert but maybe space will not always permit. Maybe the FIA should sit down with all concerned parties and revise all the rules with a view to cutting out any unfairness

  29. “Maybe the FIA should sit down with all concerned parties and revise all the rules with a view to cutting out any unfairness”

    Agreed – the FIA needs to clarify the situation.

  30. It is a pity the FIA is discrediting motoracing by inflicting unecessary penalties on drivers who are doing their upmost to play fair but make competative moves that make the sport interesting. Hamilton and Senna have been robbed. Maybe the FIA do not favour Ferarri but they are not doing a good job of proving otherwise at the moment….

  31. Then there was Spa…..maybe I must skip watching Monza. Its a dangerous track to take revenge on and the guys look serious judging by recent utterings!

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