FIA safety delegate Charlie Whiting has attempted to explain the difficulty that comes with determining who is to blame for on-track incidents in motorsport's senior championships, but insists that he does not believe that drivers have lost respect for safety, either their own or that of their rivals.
Giving a rare interview to SpeedTV
pit-lane reporter, and GP2/GP3 commentator, Will Buxton, Whiting was enticed into discussing a range of topics, varying from driving standards to safety provision at circuits, and provided an enlightening view on several incidents that have got tongues wagging during grands prix this season. Perhaps the most notable occurred at the Bahrain round where Nico Rosberg, just one week after he had won in China, was vilified for apparently forcing both Fernando Alonso
and Lewis Hamilton
to take evasive action with over-enthusiastic defensive tactics.
The stewards on the day decided not
to penalise the Mercedes driver, and Whiting, having reviewed the footage, believes that the lack of action was correct.
"What Nico did was make one move," he explained, "He made it decisively, he didn't hesitate, he just made the move and went in one direction. Crucially, he moved before the driver behind him, so he started it.
"In Alonso's case, they probably decided together if you see what I mean, but it was much clearer in the case with Lewis. But, at no point when there was one car width left between Nico's car and the edge of the track, was no part of the car behind alongside him. That's what swayed it, just, in Nico's favour. Because, at that point, he's allowed to use the full width of the track to defend his position, and the rules say that specifically. He's allowed to use the full width of the track. He didn't force the driver off track, the other driver drove off the track.
"Fernando backed off, lost momentum, but Lewis decided he was going to go for it whatever and kept going, and that, for me, was the only contentious thing: did Lewis gain an advantage by going off the track?
"Since then, I have written a note to the teams and have said that, if there is any substantial part of the following car alongside, then you can't use the full width of the track."
Whiting even offered a tempered view of the infamous 2010 Hungarian GP incident involving former Ferrari
team-mates Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello, when the seven-time world champion appeared to leave precious little room for his rival as he edged him towards the pit-wall.
"Again, in that case, a part of Rubens' car was alongside Michael and Michael didn't leave Rubens the space he should have done and that's why he was penalised," he conceded, "However, if you analyse it - with a completely clear head, and don't look at the video and say 'wow, that was terrible' - in fact Michael's move wasn't that bad. It wasn't far off what Nico did. It was just that there was a wall there, so it looked a whole lot worse. Nico was right on the edge of acceptability, Michael was over the edge."