Former F1 racer turned commentator David Coulthard admits he can't understand why Felipe Massa was handed a drive-through penalty for contact with Lewis Hamilton during the Indian Grand Prix – arguing that race stewards need to show greater consistency when it comes to penalties being applied.
The pair came together once again during the race when Hamilton tried to make a move up the inside going into turn five, only for Massa to turn in to take the corner. The resultant contact saw Massa tipped into a spin, while Hamilton was forced to pit with damage to his nose.
Massa was then handed a drive through penalty by stewards, with Johnny Herbert – part of the panel for the weekend – insisting that the decision was the correct one [See separate story HERE
However, writing in his column for the Telegraph
, Coulthard said he couldn't see how the clash was anything other than a racing incident at best, and at worst, was more down to Hamilton as the following car.
“This won't be a fashionable view for British fans but, for me, their collision on lap 24 was a racing incident at best,” he said. “At worst I felt Lewis was more to blame. I simply can't understand how Felipe could have been deemed the guilty party. As drivers we are always taught that the car behind is responsible so to my mind the stewards misinterpreted what happened.
“I don't want to beat up on Lewis. Far from it. I supported him in similar circumstances after Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi clipped the back of him at Spa. And after everything that has gone on over the past weeks and months he deserves a break. But in this instance I feel he was definitely the guiltier party.
If Lewis had got that far up alongside Felipe into a tight hairpin, where the braking zone is maybe 100 metres and lasts for a few seconds, then I think Massa would have been right to give way. But heading into a fourth gear left-hander at maybe 150-160km/h? Where the braking zone lasts for one second? I don't think Massa can be held responsible.”
Coulthard added that the incident had shown a need for more consistency from stewards when it comes to handing out penalties.
“This isn't really about Lewis and Felipe,” he said. “It could have been any two drivers. What concerns me more is the inconsistency of stewarding decisions. Making these types of calls is one of the real difficulties with a complex sport like Formula One, but it was almost as if they felt that - with Lewis receiving so many decisions against him this year - they were trying to redress the balance. A bit like in football when a referee sends someone off in controversial circumstances and the crowd is on his back, he is more disposed to send a player from the opposition off.”