The decision to strip Lewis Hamilton of his victory in the Belgian Grand Prix won't stop drivers from trying similar passing moves to the one that saw the Briton cut a chicane at Spa-Francorchamps, his rivals have claimed, but greater clarification of the rules will be sought at this weekend's Italian race.
Hamilton crossed the line first in the 13th round of the season, but was handed a 25-second post-race penalty after stewards decided that he had gained an unfair advantage in his battle with Kimi Raikkonen by cutting out part of the Bus Stop chicane. Although the move was unintentional, coming as the result of a botched passing attempt, and despite Hamilton having subsequently backed off to allow the Ferrari back in front, the officials deemed that that the Briton should not have regained the lead at the very next corner.
Asked about the decision as they gathered for this weekend's Italian Grand Prix at Monza, most of the drivers admitted that there was a 'grey area' that needed to be cleared up, but agreed that Hamilton had probably stolen too much of an advantage from his mistake.
"it was very clear that he got an advantage out of it, so that's where it is," veteran Jarno Trulli commented, "The rules are very clear. If you cut the chicane and you get an advantage, you just have to drop back and give back the position. In Lewis' case, he shouldn't have attacked straight away at the next corner."
Despite having been in Formula One for less than a year, Sebastien Bourdais was quite vocal on the situation, having come across it frequently during his five-year stay in the US-based Champ Car series.
"In my previous experience, my previous life in the States, it was a common thing," the Frenchman said, "The stewards would not take action if you gave the position back, so I think it's only fair. I think the rules are very clear. Maybe the penalty was a bit hard, but I think he's made the same mistake twice - as Magny-Cours and again at Spa, so I don't really understand why there's been such a mess around it.
"There's a rule book and everybody has to obey the same thing. The penalty is really rough but, in the end, it's up to you to give the position back or not. It's pretty straightforward. You have to be responsible for what you decide to do and, in this particular case, if you do gain an advantage, you just give it back and make sure that you don't expose yourself to penalties.
"I think [the rules] are very clear - if you gain an advantage, you gain an advantage. It doesn't matter how big it is, if you end up being in a position to pass at the next corner, then you gain an advantage. At that place, you are never going to be in a position to pass if you exit the chicane normally behind the guy, because [the gap] stretches out. It's very simple, I think."
Giancarlo Fisichella and Nico Rosberg both seconded Bourdais' view that Hamilton would not have been in position to pass at La Source unless he had gained an unfair advantage, but neither reckoned that passing attempts would be blunted by the stewards' decision to impose as big a penalty as they did at Spa.
"I think the penalty was a bit harsh, as [the move] did not have such a big effect on the actual race result in the end," Rosberg noted, referring to the self-inflicted accident that took Raikkonen out, "but I don't think it's going to stop us from trying to attack."
The whole issue is likely to be raised as the drivers gather at Monza.
"We will try and get clarification about the conditions we're racing under during the drivers' briefing tomorrow, and then we will move forward," Red Bull's David Coulthard told Reuters