Lewis Hamilton – 2008 Japanese GP
From pole position, Hamilton has a bad start, muscled his way past Raikkonen into turn 1, left his braking too late and sailed off the track onto the tarmac run off. Raikkonen had no choice but to follow as Kovalainen had also missed his braking point. Had Heikki not been there, Kimi could have tiptoed round the outside of the corner no problem. However it was still Hamilton who received the rap (and a drive-through penalty) for “forcing Kimi Raikkonen off the track”. Once again, a driving error caused in the heat of the moment led to a penalty which was not deserved. Of course Hamilton was spun round by Massa on the second lap, dropped to the rear of the field and had to make a pit stop for repairs. Massa received a penalty for that himself.
Sebastian Bourdais – 2008 Japanese GP
Bourdais leaves the pits and Massa sees an opportunity to pass. He dives round the outside, squeezes Bourdais enough to run him over the kerb, the two touch and Massa spins. After the race, Bourdais was issued with a 25 second penalty for “causing a collision” dropping him from 6th to 10th, when it was clearly Massa’s fault and not Bourdais’. Massa just did not give him enough room.
Mark Webber – 2009 German GP
Despite it being an accident with Mark misjudging Barrichello’s closeness and Barrichello still getting ahead, Webber was still awarded a drive-through penalty for causing a collision. If you watch, Barrichello did move left towards Mark and then Mark jerked right. It was a racing incident in which neither Webber benefited nor Barrichello compromised yet a penalty was still handed out to make a point. Webber still won despite the penalty proving his absolute dominance on the day.
Michael Schumacher – 2010 Monaco GP
An opportunistic move by Michael Schumacher caused by confusing regulations resulted in a 20-second post race penalty for the German. It was the final lap, the safety car pulled into the pits and crucially, a green flag was waved signifying that racing had resumed. As of 2010, racing can resume at a safety car line which is situated before the start finish line. Schumacher passed this line, the green flag waved, Schumi took the opportunity and passed Alonso. He only made up one position, but rather than swapping them back again, the stewards dished out the draconian penalty. When questioned about the harshness, they said they were (and I quote) “bounded by the rules” to hand out a 20 second penalty. Absolute rubbish considering they hand out all manner of time penalties at their convenience and the green flag confused the hell out of everyone.
Fernando Alonso/Lewis Hamilton – 2011 Malaysian GP
Despite having former Grand Prix drivers on the stewards panel, it seems clear that whoever is left to make the final decision knows nothing about Grand Prix racing. Alonso’s car was understeering in the turbulent air and Hamilton chose that point to start wandering across to the right side of the track, as he had done the previous lap at the same point, and Alonso’s front wing clipped Hamilton’s rear wheel. An unlucky incident for Alonso which required a replacement front wing. To give him a 20-second penalty for this collision was unbelievably short-sighted. Hamilton himself received a penalty in the same race as a lap earlier, he had weaved along the main straight to break Alonso’s tow and was also penalised 20 seconds. The funny thing is he did the same in the 2010 Malaysian race, but in a much more obvious way and received a drive-through penalty then as well.