The FIA announced on Tuesday that Red Bull had protested Lewis Hamilton’s penalty at the Formula 1 British Grand Prix, saying it was not tough enough.
This is not the first time that an F1 team has protested a penalty, but has the FIA ever changed a penalty after a protest and has it ever increased the severity of a penalty after a call?
James Hunt, McLaren M23
Photo by: Sutton Images
Has the FIA ever changed a penalty after an appeal?
There have been many team calls in Formula 1, although they are usually made by the teams against which the decision was made – and not by the team that was not penalized.
One of the most famous calls came in the 1976 F1 season, when James Hunt and Niki Lauda, of McLaren and Ferrari respectively, were fighting for the championship.
New rules governing the width of a car were introduced on May 1 and reduced the allowed width of cars.
The race, held on May 2, was won by Hunt, who crossed the finish line in 30 seconds ahead of the Ferrari Lauda. However, he was disqualified when post-race scrutineering found his car to be 1.5cm too wide. This gave Lauda the victory.
McLaren, believing that the difference 1.5cm would have created was negligible and was due to wider rear tires, appealed. Two months after the race, the appeal was successful and Hunt was reinstated as the winner of the Spanish Grand Prix.
The 1999 Malaysian Grand Prix featured another controversial penalty, this one against Ferrari.
His two drivers, Michael Schumacher and Eddie Irvine, came first and second with McLaren rival Mika Hakkinen in third, giving Irvine a four-point championship lead before the final race.
That was until the Stewards noted an infraction on the barges of the two Ferraris, resulting in disqualification for both.
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari F399, leads Mika Häkkinen, McLaren MP4-14 Mercedes.
Photo by: Motorsport Images
Ferrari appealed the decision and won: the disqualification was overturned, and it was back in first and second. Irvine would lose the championship by two points to Hakkinen in the final race.
A more recent example comes from 2019, when Sebastian Vettel was penalized for dangerously joining in the Canadian Grand Prix.
Vettel suffered a five-second penalty during the race, pulling him back to second behind Lewis Hamilton. Ferrari originally intended to appeal the decision, but ultimately decided not to.
The most recent example of a sanction incurred following an appeal dates from 2020.
Five of the teams appealed the previously licensed Racing Point car, believing it to be too similar to the 2019 Mercedes W10. The appeal was successful for the protesting teams, and Racing Point was fined € 400,000 and 15 championship points, but was allowed to keep the offending pieces for the remainder of the season.
Believing the penalty was not severe enough, Ferrari said it would be launching another appeal against the decision, with the aim of securing even more penalties against Racing Point – although this was ultimately dropped.
Racing Point also withdrew its appeal against the decision, saying it had done so “in the sport’s wider interests”.
While the Racing Point protest was made by teams who felt that a competitor had played an illegal role, protests against race penalties are rare – and even rarer when not made by the team who was penalized.
Has the FIA ever made a more severe sanction?
One of the few cases where a sentence was increased was against Eddie Irvine in Brazil in 1994.
Irvine, driving Jordan, and Jos Verstappen were approaching Eric Bernhard when Irvine shifted left, forcing Verstappen off the track.
The Dutchman lost control on the grass and spun across the track, picking up Irvine and Bernhard, as well as Martin Brundle, just ahead of the trio. All four had to abandon the race.
Irvine was fined $ 10,000 and a one-race suspension. Jordan appealed, but the penalty was actually a three-race ban.
While the penalty in this case was increased, it came from the penalized team appealing – not a different (but still involved) team trying to increase the severity of the penalty.