Top 10 Poorest Steward Decisions

Juan-Pablo Montoya – 2002 Malaysian GP

Montoya was given a drive-through penalty for colliding with Schumacher at the first corner of the first lap. Montoya gave him room and held his line, Schumacher simply understeered into Montoya and lost his front wing. Both drivers said it was a racing incident; no one was to blame and Schumacher himself, along with other drivers, voiced their concerns that the penalty was too harsh.

 

Juan-Pablo Montoya – 2003 American GP

The exciting 2003 season was shaping up to an awesome finish, with three drivers contending the title. That was until Montoya was given a drive-through penalty for this incident at the penultimate round at Indianapolis. Montoya was already up the inside and Barrichello didn’t give him room and turned in on Montoya. He knew he was on the inside and said later “I thought I gave him enough room”. The drive-through led to him finishing 6th, ten points behind championship leader Michael Schumacher and fans were robbed off a three-way title fight at Suzuka.

Juan-Pablo Montoya – 2004 American GP

Montoya in the wars with the stewards once again. His car failed on the dummy grid and he jumped out as quick as possible to take to his spare car and start from the pitlane – a move that was permitted in the regulations back then. However he didn’t get off the grid quick enough, the FIA deeming that everyone must be clear of the grid within 15 seconds of the race start and Montoya was two seconds too late. To penalise the driver or the team in some way was acceptable as the rules had been breached. The problem was that the stewards let Montoya race for 57 laps before hanging out the black flag and disqualifying him entirely from the race!

Fernando Alonso – 2006 Italian GP Qualifying

Alonso was penalised five grid places after Massa whinged that he was blocked by the Spaniard in qualifying. Alonso was rushing to the line to start his final qualifying run before the flag fell and he crossed the line with two seconds left to spare. Massa never got within 20 car lengths of him, but such was the nature of F1 cars in 2006, his aerodynamics were slightly disturbed and this was grounds enough for the stewards to penalise Alonso. Since then, F1 drivers have become “obsessed” with being blocked during qualifying and encountering a slower car ahead is now deemed as “blocking” and punished as if intentional. Finding a space in the traffic used to be a skill, but they seem to think they own the track during qualifying and everyone ahead should move out of their way, even if the driver ahead is on a lap themselves. It has become quite a joke.

 

┬áNick Heidfeld – 2008 Singapore GP Qualifying

Another case of “blocking” in qualifying resulting in a grid penalty. This time it was caused by the design of the Singapore pitlane – the entry point was just before the apex of the left corner. He was on his way into the pits and technically fully in the pitlane at the time, but he was still punished for it.

 

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