Alfa Romeo’s request for a review of the penalty Kimi Raikkonen received in the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix has been upheld by the stewards.
The Alfa Romeo driver had gone off the track prior to the restart and been overtaken by Lewis Hamilton and Yuki Tsunoda. Following a discussion with his team, Raikkonen was told to hold position behind the pair. Under the regulations, he should have either regained his original position or entered the pits.
However Alfa Romeo challenged the stewards’ claim that Raikkonen’s penalty was consistent with those handed down for previous incidents, arguing his Imola case was unprecedented. They therefore requested that his penalty be reconsidered.
In order for a review to be granted, a team must prove there is a new and compelling element which the stewards should consider. The stewards agreed one detail in the case merits re-examination. This relates to whether a precedent existed for Raikkonen’s penalty.
In their original verdict, the stewards stated “the penalty is a mandatory penalty, and therefore the stewards consider that they have no alternative than to apply this penalty for reasons of consistency.” Following Alfa Romeo’s request for a review, they clarified that “by the term ‘consistently applied’, in the decision, the stewards were referring to Formula 2 and Formula 3 cases, which in the absence of a Formula 1 case, the stewards used as a data point.”
However on closer inspection the stewards discovered these cases differed to Raikkonen’s, which occured during a restart following a race suspension. “Subsequent to the decision and as part of this present hearing, the stewards have discovered that the specific cases that they referred to were not following a red flag,” they explained.
The stewards considered this detail “significant and relevant” and therefore upheld Alfa Romeo’s request for a review.
Raikkonen’s penalty cost him his first points finish of the season, and promoted Alpine duo Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso to ninth and 10th places respectively. The review will take place at 11am local time at the Autodromo do Algarve ahead of today’s Portuguese Grand Prix.
The stewards’ response to Alfa Romeo’s request for a review of Raikkonen’s penalty
The Competitor provided the stewards with extensive documentation, including three main documents and sixteen annexes. This documentation fell into three main categories:
i) Documents from the F1 Sporting Working Group, the Formula 1 Commission, and related documents, including Race Director notes, (the nomenclature of these bodies has changed over time.) These documents were specifically intended to show the intent of these bodies in the writing of the relevant regulations, which were instituted in 2018 and 2019.
ii) The Case of the International Court of Appeal ICA-2018-10, which the Competitor suggests concludes that when there is confusion or ambiguity in a regulation, it should be interpreted to the benefit of the Competitor, and further that it should be “interpreted according to the common intention of the parties”, these principles being derived from the French Civil Code quoted in this ICA case.
iii) Documents demonstrating that there was no previous case matching this in Formula 1. The relevance of this being that in the steward’s original decision it was declared that the regulations had been consistently applied.
Art. 14 requires that for the stewards to grant a review, there must be “A significant and relevant new element” … ”which was unavailable to the parties seeking the review at the time of the decision concerned.”
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Using these criteria, the stewards determined:
a) That it is difficult to infer the true intent of all the participants in a meeting from the working papers of that meeting. The only conclusive proof is the regulations that resulted. Further, the stewards are concerned that some of the papers presented are not relevant as they refer to other sections of the regulations, and while the contradictions mentioned in the original Steward’s document certainly revolved around the differences between a Safety Car re-start and a Rolling Restart behind the safety car, these papers do not seem to be significant to the steward’s decision. It is also questionable whether or not these papers should be admitted, as the Competitor was a participant in the meetings referred to, and therefore presumably they would have been aware of their content at the time of the original hearing – although the stewards concede that referring to such documents in the hour before a hearing is practically difficult.
b) That with respect to the ICA Case, the stewards believe that it is axiomatic to modern stewarding practice that the benefit of the doubt should accrue to the Competitor. So, while this point is relevant, it is not new.
Further, the French Civil code cited in this ICA case, states: “A contract is to be interpreted according to the common intention of the parties rather than stopping at the literal meaning of its terms. Where this intention cannot be discerned, a contract is to be interpreted in the sense which a reasonable person placed in the same situation would give to it.” [The Regulations being regarded as a form of contract]
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the stewards find this second sentence to be compelling. Where ambiguity exists in the regulations, the stewards are empowered to resolve these matters under the ISC. Unless there is overwhelmingly clear evidence that all the parties that have the right to create the regulations have the same intentions, Stewards attempt to use common sense to make these resolutions. the stewards do no believe that this is new and unavailable information, nor do the stewards believe there is overwhelming evidence to show that the intention of all parties is clear. Both the original decision and any subsequent decision will therefore have to take this into account.
c) The Competitor provided the stewards with documentation to show that the situation in this case had never happened before in Formula 1. This was known to the stewards at the time of the original decision and was briefly discussed in the original hearing.
In the original decision, the stewards referred to the regulation as “consistent amongst several championships, has been in the Formula 1 Sporting Regulations for several years and has been consistently applied.”
While the fact that the regulations between Formula 1, Formula 2 and Formula 3 are the same was mentioned in the original hearing, it was not discussed. What was not known to the Competitor at the time of the original hearing, and was raised in this hearing, was that was that by the term “consistently applied”, in the decision, the stewards were referring to Formula 2 and Formula 3 cases, which in the absence of a Formula 1 case, the stewards used as a data point. In addition, subsequent to the decision and as part of this present hearing, the stewards have discovered that the specific cases that they referred to were not following a Red Flag.
While this was only one element among many considered by the stewards, this information was unavailable to the Competitor at the time of the original decision and was a part of the discussion by the stewards and is therefore deemed significant and relevant.
For this reason, the stewards grant the review.
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