Last weekend played host to more motorsport than you can wave a stick at, but it also boasted an unprecedented number of post-race amendments to podium finishers. With teams and drivers awarded and then promptly stripped of ELMS, British GT and PWC trophies, points and championship positions, should the chequered flag be final?
Even before the race has started, the fans, drivers and teams watch a story build. They become emotionally involved; celebrate highs and come together through the lows. The podium is the final crescendo, the climax, the conclusion… Or is it?
Of course, rules are there to be respected – otherwise why have the rules at all – but with attempts to make racing fairer at risk of turning the sport into a shambles, is it time to review how penalties are applied after the chequered flag falls?
In football, the end result is final, regardless of whether a goal should have been disallowed for offside, or if a player was awarded a penalty by diving. The sense of injustice contributes to a renewed effort to do better next time – that’s what sport is all about.
In racing, once the trophies have been awarded, should results stand? Or, is it right that teams can appeal and drivers must hand back their trophies after they have been awarded?
One such driver to be stripped of his British GT Championship podium on Sunday was Joe Osborne. After spraying champagne for second place in the Brands Hatch season opener, Osborne and co-driver Lee Mowle had the position retracted following a complaint about him passing under FCY as the race restarted and was duly relegated to fourth.
“An issue as simple as passing under a FCY should always be decided in the race,” Osborne commented. “There should be some kind of procedure where they have five or ten minutes to make a decision. The nearest marshal can radio through to race control, requesting that the pass is reviewed. If the driver is at fault, the position can be handed back. It should never be resolved at the end of the race, when there is no opportunity to win the position fairly.
“In American football the umpire throws his flag on the floor and reports an incident in order for it to go to video referee. There should be a way of marshals acting as the race director’s eyes and ears.
“But, the main issue is resource. Race control is under resourced and, and I don’t mean this disrespectfully, a lot of stewards have never raced. Championships should adopt a driver steward – an impartial driver who understands the point of view of the driver.
“Should the referee’s decision be final? Yes, but this will only work when the teams and drivers have respect and trust in his decisions and they are made in a timely manner that is fair and just. Until then, we will all be banging on his door and fighting our corner until we get our way.”
Clearly this isn’t a situation that can be resolved overnight, but whatever our thoughts, Bertolini clearly didn’t want to give his ELMS trophy back after losing his race win – run, Andrea, run!