An interesting discussion occurred on the American broadcast for Friday’s practice session on SPEED. It was centered on the penalty given to Romain Grosjean and the discussion started with Will Buxton suggesting that the wording of the Stewards penalty included the notion that romain had taken out championship contenders. To Will’s point, every life on the grid is equally important regardless of if they are in the leading points position or simply back markers. Grace and I have both discussed the notion of, “What? You’re not for safety?” sort of argument. Sure, we’re all for safety, that isn’t the point.
Will was echoed by Steve Matchett and David Hobbs on the disconcerting fact that perhaps stewards were handing out penalties differently based on whether you impact the championship or not. We all discussed here at F1B and I think we all agree that it shouldn’t matter. In that sense, we are in concert with Buxton, Hobbs and our friend Steve Matchett.
Bob Varsha, on the other hand, suggested that he understood the stewards position because young drivers should be reminded that they need to be very aware of what they are doing and especially around the championship leaders. This was met with a 3-to-1 discussion with Hobbs, Buxton and Matchett disagreeing with Varsha. I’ve noticed Bob having some Twitter discussions with a few folks over the matter today as well. Here is the one thing Bob doesn’t need, anyone carrying his argument for him or trying to divine something he meant from what he actually means. I won’t do that.
What I will say is that I think I understand what he was pointing out. The issue being suggested could be this:
Grosjean received a ban for his actions and Steve Matchett said team bosses told him that Romain was lucky to get just a one-race ban. What Varsha stirred for me with his comment was that a young driver needs to understand that there is a championship being played out and dive bombing or reckless driving will get you sat down for a race but he should consider himself lucky as he also impacted the world championship and there are millions of dollars at stake here. That doesn’t mean that HRT driver’s lives are of less value, what it means is that every life is valuable and the championship is valuable. He got a ban for his actions and for having the carelessness of not only putting lives at risk but also for impacting the single most important reason these teams race…the world championship.
I’ll be honest, Buxton, Matchett and Hobbs are right, doesn’t matter who Grosjean took out, his actions deserved a penalty. I also think Varsha has a point in that the young drivers need to be wary of what their actions can do in not only risking people’s lives but also risking the championship, in which so much is placed, by being a bone head. The young drivers need to understand that they must take particular caution when running near or around the title leaders. That doesn’t mean be careless around Timo Glock, that means have situational awareness and realize that there are many elements at play. A car a lap down should not run Lewis Hamilton wide into the grass when he is lapping the slower car.
Varsha needs no defender and I am not trying to speak for him but rather understand the notion that understanding the complete picture of what is going on when a young driver decides to win it or bin it on the first lap or when they are coming out of the pits and slot in just ahead of Sebastian Vettel. Perhaps this will help the point I’m trying to make:
If Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel (or Fernando Alonso) were coming into the stadium section of a circuit and they were side by side and touched wheels taking each other out, that would be racing. Two guys vying for the lead and world title. If Lewis Hamilton were coming into the same section and Charles Pic started racing him wheel-to-wheel and he ended up touching Lewis and taking them both out, that would be outrageous. A non-player in the title chase taking out Hamilton by being a dork. I’m not suggesting Pic is a dork, I’m just using him as an example.
Now you could argue that Romain is in the title hunt but that doesn’t quite work because so is Felipe Massa and Daniel Ricciardo at this point. As I said, I think I can understand the point of suggesting that it was bad enough that you put lives at risk but it is compounded by the fact that you impacted the championship by being a bone head and I think that’s what may have been implied. Bob doesn’t need my imputed reasoning or defending commentary. I’ve interviewed Bob and he’s a really nice guy and a real pro and my putting words in his mouth is the last thing I would do or what he’d want.
In the end, it isn’t an either / or topic they were discussing, I think it was an additive statement that was perhaps misunderstood. I think I get the point but what do you think? Do you think the stewards were literally saying that certain lives are more important than others? Seriously folks, I doubt any steward would ever suggest such an insane notion. Give them credit that last sunday they woke up and were still human.