Renowned Formula 1 commentator Martin Brundle suggests that a reevaluation of the regulations could prove advantageous for the sport following a flurry of penalties imposed during the Canadian Grand Prix.
Notably, Carlos Sainz, Yuki Tsunoda, and Lance Stroll found themselves slapped with three-place grid penalties for impeding fellow drivers during the crucial qualifying session. Furthermore, Nico Hulkenberg’s impressive P2 finish was downgraded to P5 due to a violation involving a red flag.
While Brundle empathizes with both the drivers and race stewards caught up in these incidents, he advocates for the inclusion of a “human judgment call” to guide these decisions. Recognizing the intricacies of the sport, he believes that a more nuanced approach is necessary in order to strike a fair balance.
“All weekend the race stewards were as busy as the drivers reviewing penalties for blocking and other indiscretions,” Brundle wrote in his column for Sky Sports F1.
“I feel for the drivers in those conditions, keeping your own car out of the wall and trying to find good speed when every braking zone, corner entry and exit, and even gentle kinks on a straight is a new adventure every lap.
“To then see other drivers in your mirrors through the spray and get out of the way while trying to find a clear lap for yourself is quite the challenge.
“There were some very clear blocks which looked unnecessary despite all the above, not least Carlos Sainz in the Ferrari, for which he took a three-place grid drop.
“The stewards were being firm with the rules. I often speak to them to understand these things and they always have data and rationale to go with their calls, there’s no shooting from the hip involved.
“But, as with any referee system, there’s a human judgment call.”
Regarding Hulkenberg’s penalty, Brundle acknowledged the sense of frustration experienced by the Haas driver. However, he emphasized that the stewards were diligently fulfilling their duties to ensure consistent rule enforcement.
The stewards maintained a high level of activity throughout Sunday’s race. Lando Norris, in particular, faced a five-second time penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. This penalty was incurred after he backed off under the Safety Car, just as McLaren skillfully executed double-stacked pit stops for their drivers.
“I felt sure there was a clear rule about that so that a driver can’t disadvantage all those behind while making their own pit stop faster, but the stewards had to use an umbrella rule about ‘unsporting behaviour’ to nail him,” Brundle explained.
“Even rival team managers were telling me post-race that it’s been normal and accepted behaviour to build a small gap behind the Safety Car before a double team pit stop for a few years now, which indeed was Lando’s firm view.
“Of course, like any sport you need rules and a firm referee otherwise, you quickly have chaos and anarchy, but I can’t help but feel our constantly evolved and complex rules are ready for a tidy-up and rationalisation.”