The penalty merry-go-round

This weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix has seen more than the usual fair share of penalties dished out -- and whether they are fair or not is hotly debated. MF1's Christijan Albers kicked off the engine change punishment on Friday when his Toyota ...

This weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix has seen more than the usual fair share of penalties dished out -- and whether they are fair or not is hotly debated. MF1's Christijan Albers kicked off the engine change punishment on Friday when his Toyota engine gave up, earning him the 10 place grid demotion as standard (and irritating), although it didn't make a huge amount of difference to his lowly status anyway.

The following penalty to Renault's Fernando Alonso after the second practice caused a stir. The defending champion had a bit of a hissy fit at Red Bull's Robert Doornbos, including that language-barrier transcending hand waving, then allegedly brake-tested the Dutchman at the next corner.

Stewards took a dim view of the incident and went even dimmer when Alonso overtook under yellow flags later in the session. Subsequently Alonso was awarded a two second penalty on his fastest laps in each of the qualifying sessions today, one for the Doornbos road rage and one for the overtaking under yellow.

Ferrari must have been crowing with delight at Alonso's punishment but hey! Guess what? Come Saturday morning's practice title rival Michael Schumacher did an equally silly arse thing, namely overtaking under red flags in the morning practice. Tut tut. He was also awarded a two second per fastest lap penalty for qualifying.

Schumacher and Ferrari went even dimmer than the stewards and claimed the penalty, in relation to Alonso's, was unfair. Schumacher went so far as to suggest, in a round about way, that Alonso slowed deliberately to 'make' him pass under red flags. Whether Alonso did or not is irrelevant.

Apparently Schumacher passed two -- or perhaps even three, depending on who you listen to -- cars under the red flag so even if Alonso was playing silly buggers Schumacher would have been penalised. The stewards had no choice after punishing Alonso the previous day.

Yellow flags mean no overtaking, slow down, be aware there is an incident on track. Red flags mean stop -- full stop. There's no excuse for overtaking under yellow and even less for overtaking under red (if there can be less than an excuse than none).

Make your own mind up, I'm sure you will. The politics, the accusations of the FIA interfering with the championship, whatever the case may be it's all getting tediously silly. The only good side is that Schumacher and Alonso fighting from the midfield might make Hungary interesting for once.

Meanwhile, the red flags that Schumacher allegedly passed under were caused by Jenson Button's Honda engine expiring, so he was subsequently punished with the 10 place grid demotion. He dropped from fourth to 14th.

Toro Rosso's Scott Speed was judged to have hampered another driver during qualifying and had his times deleted. Therefore he downgrades one place to 20th. The official FIA grid will not be available until Sunday morning so we'll just have to twiddle our thumbs.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jenson Button , Michael Schumacher , Fernando Alonso , Christijan Albers , Robert Doornbos , Scott Speed
Teams Ferrari , Toro Rosso