A flawed regulation comes sharply into focus


After the race much of the attention centred on Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso and an overtaking move that will be hotly debated before the next Grand Prix in Turkey. Due to the advent of new safety car regulations, which do not appear to be fully defined for all possible eventualities, confusion reigned supreme after the race.
Four laps from the end the safety car was deployed after Jarno Trulli clashed with Karun Chandhok in an ill advised and opportunistic overtaking attempt that blocked the track. In Formula 1 the safety car does not take the chequered flag before the winning driver so on the final lap it peeled off into the pitlane in readiness for Webber to win the race. In the past drivers were not allowed to overtake until the start/finish line so when the safety car pulled in drivers would slowly take the flag and end the race.
A new regulation for 2010 allows drivers to race once they have passed the safety car line before the start line. From this point the track is ‘live’ once again. However under Formula 1’s sporting regulations “if the race ends whilst the safety car is deployed it will enter the pitlane at the end of the last lap and the cars will take the chequered flag as normal without overtaking.” This is a direct contradiction of the new general safety car rules above and when the car pulled in Schumacher overtook Alonso after the safety car line believing he had made a legitimate overtaking manoeuvre. However the stewards disagreed and Schumacher was penalised twenty seconds which cost him a points scoring position, Mercedes will appeal this decision.

The confusion surrounding this incident was caused by the marshals waving green flags and thus signalling that the drivers were free to race again. In previous years, such as Australia last year the track was still under caution without the safety car as yellow flags were still waved at all marshal posts and the SC boards were still shown. When Schumacher saw the green flags he immediatly saw that the track was live once more and began looking for a chance to take sixth, Alonso made a mistake and Schumacher pounced into the final corner.
By having a rule for one period of the race and another for the final lap the FIA left the opportunity for an incident like this to occur and this regulation needs to be tightened for future races.
The immediate reaction of the racing fraternity was that Schumacher had made a successful manoeuvre. If paddock insiders fail to understand the regulations fully then how can the average punter be expected to understand, and accept such inherently flawed regulations.
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