In response to Ferrari's recent accusations that the rules are always skewed against them, Charlie Whiting has revealed that the FIA in actual fact informed the Scuderia
'three times' – and in the first instance immediately – that Fernando Alonso would have to let Robert Kubica re-pass him or else likely face a penalty at Silverstone last weekend.
Alonso tried to overtake Kubica for fourth place around the outside of Vale during the British Grand Prix, but found himself running out of track and had to take to the grass at the following Club corner, re-emerging ahead of his Renault rival and subsequently neglecting to give the position back again as per the letter of the regulations for having gained an advantage.
Nine laps later, the Spaniard was administered a drive-through penalty for his indiscretion, and the timing of the announcement meant he would have to serve his punishment just after the safety car had come out to attend to Pedro de la Rosa's disintegrating rear wing on the Hangar Straight – dropping him down to the rear of the field, from where he could recover to only 14th place at the chequered flag.
After the race, Alonso acerbically remarked that the stewards' decisions are 'always fair' [see separate story – click here
], and Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali lamented the time it took for the penalty to be meted out, an echo of the Prancing Horse's European Grand Prix complaint in Valencia a fortnight previously with regard to McLaren-Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton.
“You can have a situation where immediately there is a possibility to give position back to a driver if you feel there was really an advantage gained, but we felt that was not the case, otherwise we would have done it,” the Italian reasoned. “As soon as we received the information that in the opinion of the stewards Fernando should have given back position to Robert, he (Kubica) was already very far behind and was really slowing down because he had a problem. We feel [the penalty] is very harsh.”
Ferrari's controversial website writer concurred that it is 'fact' that 'decisions are taken slowly' by the top flight's officials [see separate story – click here
], and partisan Italian sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport
quipped that F1 had become 'Formula Lullaby' due to its excessively long procrastinations. FIA race director Whiting, however, begs to differ.
“We told Ferrari three times that in my opinion they should give the position back to Kubica,” the Englishman told Italian magazine Autosprint
. “We told them that immediately, right after the overtaking manoeuvre. On the radio, I suggested to them that if they exchange position again, there would be no need for the stewards to intervene.
“They didn't do that, and on the third communication they said that Kubica was by then too far back to let him regain the position. It's not true at all that the stewards took too long to decide. For us, the facts were clear immediately – Alonso had gained an advantage by cutting the track.”