Verstappen not pleased with regulation inconsistency

I saw a piece over at Motorsport that caught my eye regarding Max Verstappen and his dislike of the current regulations. In fairness, the source was his sponsor, Exact, and Motorsport picked it up which is great.

Max said:

“The problem with these kind of rules is that they complicate the sport – for both the viewer and the stewards themselves,” wrote Verstappen in his regular column for sponsor Exact.

“That was evident at the Grand Prix of Mexico. Lewis Hamilton cut across the grass at the first corner and was not penalised. Fine, but after I did exactly the same in my fight with Sebastian Vettel, I got a five-second penalty and I lost my third place.

“That is a ridiculous situation. Lewis and I both miss our braking point, in exactly the same corner. Just like him I didn’t have any advantage, because I went first into the corner and came out first again. That I am punished, but not Lewis, indicates that there are double standards.”

Ok, before we unpack these comments, let’s hear what Max thinks about the consistency of the regulations:

“The current season still has two races to go, and then maybe we can use the winter to put rules and regulations under the microscope to create more clarity,” he added.

“Rules are obviously needed and I will always respect them, but it is only fair if they are the same for everyone and are also applied that way.”

Max didn’t like the idea of Lewis Hamilton no getting penalized for his off-track stroll in Mexico and his same run across the grass garnered a penalty. He sees this as inconsistent and it’s becoming a real challenge to Formula 1 fans who also feel that there is a lack of consistent penalty calling or application.

In some ways, one could argued that the teams, drivers and FIA feel that they need more, finite regulations to bring consistency to the penalty application process—hence the new rule about moving under braking coined the Verstappen Rule. I’ve argued strongly that this rule is a Pandora’s Box and the FIA aren’t staffed to instantly review any lodged complaints of movement under braking from 10 possible teams in real time and apply these penalties immediately. This could lead to changing race results hours after a race which is bad for the sport.

I think FIA race director Charlie Whiting does a really good job and his team are consistent at every race. If there was something I feel that needs to be changed, it’s the stewarding gift that the FIA hands local motoring club officials at each race plus a retired driver. The FIA have said in the past that they use this system because they can’t afford to hire three permanent staff people for every race around the world. I would argue they can and the health of the sport depends on it. They don’t because they are greasing the hands of local motoring club officials who send yearly dues to the FIA and this keep the revenue stream going. Trust me, I understand that, I really do, but I feel like the sport has progressed beyond that model if I’m honest.

The FIA has a 1% ownership in F1 and perhaps if that’s a bugbear to the Liberty Media buyout and prompts concern for the EU Commission, then that 1% could be converted to a staff fund where the FIA’s 1% is not an asset they own but a bankroll that the permanent race steward expenses come out of. I have no idea, I’m just spit-balling here but get creative.

The name of the game at this point is consistency in racing, regulations and entertaining races. It will take teams, drivers, FIA and FOM to make that happen so perhaps Liberty Media will have an idea on how to get that done with a new Concorde Agreement in 2020?

PS- Max’s comment about “the same for everyone”? That why I don’t like DRS, it isn’t the same for the leader as it is the trailing car. Especially if the leader is down on paower but fast enough to keep a faster car behind him…like Massa in Mexico and thankfully for Williams, the nature of the track neutered the DRS for Hulkenberg.

Hat Tip: Motorsport

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The steward’s biographies are published by the FIA each race. For Mexico they were: An Australian, a Spaniard and an American. All have significant experience in top level motorsport. I don’t think in this case they were local motoring club officials. Over behind AUTOSPORT’s pitwall is an article explaining why permanent stewards aren’t used. It proposes that a team of permanent stewards would cost a million a year once travel was factored in. As FOM won’t pay (they are in it to make money) the cash would have to come from drivers (fifty thousand each on their super… Read more »

Tom Firth

There is a 4th steward who is associated with the local ASN, whose biography doesn’t, or didn’t get published in this case. His name appears on the documentation though for steward reports. Two from the FIA, driver steward and local ASN steward is the usual panel.

Tom Firth

It’s not up to FOM to pay for permanent stewards. That’s the FIA’s job.


True, but the FIA would need to raise that money from either the drivers or the teams.

charlie white

It seems that all the parties involved in the sport could benefit from consistency in race stewardship but no one wants to bring about that change. That sounds about right for Formula-1.

Junipero Mariano

I think a good idea for an article or podcast would be Paul explaining the “rules of the road” for racing. He could go over what did Arnoux and Villeneuve did right, what did Schumacher do that caused the FIA to introduce new regulations on blocking and passing, and what courtesies, like moves under braking, should remain unspoken rules. Some rules confuse me, like leaving enough room for the other driver. As long as you haven’t run the other guy off the road, why leave room? Why is there a limit on blocking manuevers, besides really limiting available grip for… Read more »

Alianora La Canta

Paying the race stewards brings its own problems – in the fourth and fifth Max Mosley terms, the stewards (who were unpaid back then, mind you) were frequently believed to be in the FIA’s pocket, issuing penalties that were regarded as what suited Mr Mosley’s agenda rather than the regulations as written. Paying them would simply give a clearer basis for such accusations (which I’m happy to say have been avoided in the Todt era; disputes over stewarding have tended to be whether regulations have been honestly misinterpreted rather than deliberately manipulated)..