Understanding F1’s ‘right to review’
By Mat Coch
Saturday 7th August, 2021 - 4:48pm
The Formula 1 paddock broadly believes the FIA’s Right to Review process is fit for purpose, despite the last three having proved unsuccessful.
Following the British Grand Prix, Red Bull requested a review of the incident between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen on the opening lap.
Heard on the Thursday prior to the Hungarian Grand Prix, the case was dismissed by the FIA after it was deemed to add nothing substantially new to the discussion.
That was despite Red Bull having spent time at Silverstone with Alex Albon recreating Hamilton’s lines in an effort to gain a better understanding of the crash.
Ironically, it was a piece of evidence the stewards could not accept as it was ‘created’ after the event.
Following that incident, sources confirmed to Speedcafe.com, that “any evidence that is created, rather than discovered, is not considered permissible to review a decision.”
When requesting an incident be reviewed, the onus is on the team to produce substantive new evidence, though the decision on whether that is sufficient to reconsider an incident remains with the stewards.
They can elect not to review it, as they’ve done on the last three occasions, or could review it and decide whatever action as first taken was indeed correct.
It is, in effect, a last roll of the dice for teams – a low percentage chance to potentially gain something.
“The purpose of this review, if you follow it back to why it was introduced, was to avoid an event taking place at any point in the year and it being challengeable until after the championship,” explained Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner.
“So I think the right to review is correct, and I think that it’s a fair process that the competitors have that ability to challenge.
“Having gone through that and understanding what some of the definitions are, some of those perhaps could be altered slightly, but I think that I can understand the FIA’s process that they don’t want every single incident to go into a review.
“But I think when there is a significant incident that does warrant a review it’s good to have that opportunity to exercise it.”
According to Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, it’s also a means to catch errors made under time pressure by stewards.
“The stewards have an incredibly tough job,” he reasoned.
“They need to, within the time that is allowed, come up with a verdict and potentially a penalty.
“We don’t want to have this drag out with new evidence that is being created after the event because then we wouldn’t have a single race result.”
Following the Hamilton/Verstappen clash in Silverstone, there have been calls for incidents to be judged on their outcome.
Currently, officials do not look at the results of an incident and judge it purely on merit.
“I think that the process is good enough,” reasoned Ferrari’s Mattia Binotto.
“The process doesn’t need to be reviewed. I think what happened [in Silverstone], I don’t think it’s here a matter of judging who made the mistake because I think it has already been decided, because there is a penalty.
“No doubt that Lewis made something wrong,” he added.
“I think eventually is on the size of the penalty, but our personal views of the size of penalty should not be based on the outcome of the accident.
“That would be wrong, you should judge the manoeuvres itself, and no doubt that the same manoeuvre can be different in a corner, or a different corner based on the safety of the corner itself.
“We felt at least was that such a manoeuvre made in Copse certainly is very high danger for the safety itself.
“I think that’s why eventually the size of the penalty can be judged differently based on where you do it, but that’s a discussion we may have between team principals, FIA, F1 Commissions to make sure that at least for the future, we are doing, if needed, something different or better.”
Yesterday, Aston Martin announced it had requested a review of Sebastian Vettel’s exclusion from the Hungarian Grand Prix after the minimum fuel sample could not be extracted.
The review comes alongside a formal appeal of the exclusion, with the team refusing to shed light on why it has exercised both rights.