Brawn calls for transparency but justice is a fickle thing

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Justice, instant or otherwise, is a fickle thing. Take the recent elections for the European Union. Some feel a particular outcome is a complete injustice due to the result while others feel it isn’t and that any other outcome would have been, you guessed it, and injustice.

In the past few years, Formula 1 has had its rash of knee-jerk reactions to fans social media calls for instant justice. From Romain Grosjean and Daniil Kvyat’s incidents to Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg’s exploits to Sunday’s penalty to Sebastian Vettel for re-entering the track in an unsafe manner.

Sunday’s call for justice worked both ways. From initial reactions, which in our view were correct as it was a bad penalty, to the spate of “#Actually” apologetics for the decision that usually crop up within 24 hours of the incident, the incident is not short of calls for justice.

Let me be the first to sound crass about the issue…screw your justice, need for justice and demand for justice. I didn’t like the call at all, felt is was a misapplication of a regulation meant for something completely different and I don’t agree with the stewards opinion due to viewing Vettel’s steering wheel input once he came back on track. We shared our thoughts on the recent race review podcast.

Having said that, I’ll need to get over it and move on even though I disliked the call. Taking to social media to attack Mr. Pirro personally is just silly. My need for justice does not trump Mr. Pirro’s character, kindness, professional skills or good intent. I voiced my opinion about the penalty, called out F1 on the issue, as a series, not personally nor did I engage in personally attacking Jean Todt because I disliked the FIA decision.

In my mind, the FIA and F1 made a mistake and Mr. Pirro, if agreeable to the decision, is among those who I disagree with. The FIA made a mistake, made a call and handed out a result I wasn’t happy with.

Now, the exact same notion applies for those screaming for justice when Vettel made a mistake, collected his car and went on to win the race. Life is tough and sometimes good racing can be a bit messy but in the end, had the FIA not made the call, you would have to get over it and move on. Lewis is no danger of being overhauled by Vettel in the championship and missing a Canadian GP win because of Vettel’s mistake and correction isn’t the end of the world. Just as it wasn’t when Hamilton did the same thing to Daniel Ricciardo in Monaco in 2016 or Rosberg in Spain in 2016. I wasn’t screaming for justice in 2016, were you?

F1’s Ross Brawn says he wishes the Stewards had a way of being more transparent about their decisions telling the press:

“I have a lot of respect for the work of the stewards and for their professionalism and I believe they would be the first to say that they would prefer not to see a race outcome decided via a penalty,” said Brawn, in his regular post-event debrief.

“At the same time, I understand how difficult it must be for fans to understand why the driver on the top step of the podium is not the one who crossed the finish line first.

“That’s why transparency is important when it comes to explaining the decisions of the stewards, especially in such a complex sport as Formula 1.

“It is in football, where despite the arrival of VAR, there is still discussion as to whether a handball should be punished with a penalty or not.

“Therefore, it might be useful to work with the FIA on solutions that would allow the stewards to explain their decisions to the fans and to elaborate on how they reached them.

“Having said that, I would emphatically add is that there is nothing sinister about a decision like this.

“You might agree with it or not, but none of those who take on the role of steward each weekend has a hidden agenda and fans can be certain of that.”

Fair enough, it might be good to understand the logic but even so, I maintain that fans would still be upset regardless of their justification. The current fad of demanding justice clouds the ability to take explanation and logic on board and process it correctly.

What I would rather see is less sporting regulation due to calls for outcome-based justice and more consistency via a dedicated stewarding crew at every race. I find the current crop of outrage and calls for justice laced with personal attacks boorish, sophomoric and a waste of our time as fans.

I was speaking with someone who said that Vettel deserved the penalty, no doubt about it. I asked why and he said because Sebastian is an “nob”. I asked how he was a “nob” and he said that no one in the UK liked him and that Hamilton was clearly done wrong and the penalty gave Lewis what he rightly deserves. I explained the penalty and what it is used for and he just said, Sebastian is an ass. I explained that I have met Seb twice and he couldn’t have been a nicer guy. The conversation ended there. I bet he was on social media calling for justice. The kind of justice that corrects anything that would create difficulties for his driver Lewis Hamilton. Justice is a fickle thing.

Hat Tip: Autosport

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Be that as it may, I will still maintain two things: 1. I saw the video just like everyone else and the stewards. It clearly showed that Vettel was struggling to regain control of the car all the way through, even in the steering wheel. I have no idea what the stewards saw that made them think otherwise. There was no control, period (or “full stop” as the UK likes to say). I understand Ferrari’s desire to appeal, and I will back them 100% in their efforts on this issue. The stewards were flat out wrong, and I was wearing… Read more »


These are sports violations, not crimes. Intent does not come into it. In basketball, if I try to swat the ball away from you, but instead hit you on the wrist, I have committed a foul and will face a punishment. The same thing happens in F1 with drivers receiving grid penalties for obstructing other drivers’ quali laps, which is almost never an intentional act. In either case, participants have a responsibility to actively ensure that they perform safely and within the rules, so it is reasonable and fair to punish them in the case that they fail to do… Read more »


It is interesting for me.I am not a huge F1 fan, I prefer motorcycle racing. I understand they are two different sports. In the last few weeks the isle of Man motorcycle races have taken place. If you step outside of the ” white lines” on that course, you will probably end up paying the ultimate price. If Vettel had stayed within the white lines, this would not even be a story. Ultimately he was penalised because the adjudicator found that he looked in his mirrors and moved across to block LH44. Vettel only showed his weakness, with his temper… Read more »

Steve Warren

By the time the penalty was announced, Vettel had already regained a 2-second lead over, and was pulling away from Hamilton. At the end of the race, he had pissed away 1.5 seconds of that lead and finished only 1/2 second ahead of Hamilton. Vettel has always been fast when there was no one in front of him. Not this time. Had he not been so busy whining and bitching about the call and had instead, concentrated on building the 5-second lead he needed to maintain his position, he could have won the race despite the penalty. Instead, he made… Read more »


Have you read this interview with Wurz? In it Alexander Wurz is arguing that in a sense the drivers have brought this upon themselves by constantly asking for clarification on what is legal etc. It seems to me that the stewards job is becoming more a rubber stamping exercise as the call for consistency has meant that gut feeling can’t be used anymore. Its far simpler to become a lawyer and say that Vettel either rejoined in an uncontrolled manner, or he had control and thus deliberately ran Hamilton towards the wall. Either of these are now ‘bad’ due… Read more »