Formula 1 13 Oct 2008 07:55 am

FIA stewards penalise Bourdais at Japanese Grand Prix — but why?

The FIA continues to take advantage of every opportunity to damage its credibility, with yesterday’s post-race penalty applied to Sebastien Bourdais being just the latest example.

Bourdais was racing strongly and had just left the pits (after his second stop) when Felipe Massa ranged alongside him. TV coverage appeared to show Bourdais holding his ‘inside’ line for the first corner, while Massa appeared to simply ‘turn in’ on him. When I saw that the incident was under investigation, I expected the outcome to indicate either (i) that Massa had been in the wrong, or that (ii) it was a ‘racing incident’. I never believed that Bourdais’ actions would be questioned (or penalised)!

Bourdais is equally confused by the incident, stating: “For me it’s very clear. Yes, I exit the pits, yes I’m supposed to be careful and I was. I stayed inside and I didn’t push him out, I didn’t overshoot the corner. I did everything I could not to run into him and he just squeezed and turned and behaved like I didn’t exist, like I wasn’t there. What am I supposed to do? I’ve been in this position many, many times and I never had any incidents. It’s just a little bit of respect, you give each other room and then everything goes right, but if you don’t for sure it’s going to be an incident.”

The nett result of the penalty: Bourdais drops from sixth to tenth (not material in terms of the World Championship), and Massa moves from eighth to seventh (scoring an extra World Championship point). This seems like a very strange outcome to me.

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