The FIA’s Formula 1 race director Michael Masi says Haas fell foul of a specific technical directive targeted at drivers receiving no guidance on the formation lap at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Both Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean were called into the pits on the formation lap at the Hungaroring because the team wanted to switch the drivers to slick tires after having originally fitted wet compounds on the grid. While the change of strategy isn’t illegal, Masi explained that communicating with the drivers on the formation lap is.
“There was a TD (technical directive) that came out I think in 2017 clarifying what communication the team can make to the drivers on the formation lap, which relates to Article 27.1 of the sporting regs, which is that the driver must drive the car alone and unaided,” Masi said. “And the essence of that summons is that both drivers were called in by their engineers to change tires on the formation lap, which is not permitted within that TD which was issued at the time.
“In essential terms, the only communication that can be made with the driver during the formation lap, from the pit wall to the driver, is for safety matters. If it’s an issue of imminent safety then that communication can take place.”
The end result was both Haas drivers were handed 10-second time penalties for the incident, demoting Magnussen from ninth to 10th, while Grosjean was already outside the points.
While the Haas penalty drew confusion among fans, multiple strategists that RACER has spoken to accepted that while the pit call was an excellent one, they deliberately did not send the same message in the knowledge it would contravene the technical directive.
A non-penalty was also the center of focus early in Sunday’s race when Valtteri Bottas moved in his grid slot before the lights went out, but Masi says while the FIA looked at it, it’s clear that a jump start is only registered if a sensor deems there to have been enough movement.
“There’s two parts to that – the means by how a false start is determined is clearly (explained) in the sporting regs and has been the same process for a number if years, which is the transponder fitted to the car is the judgement mechanism, and there’s a sensor in the track as well. There’s a tolerance within that, as we saw in Japan last year, that is the determining factor. There was nothing further. We spoke to the timekeepers immediately and they reviewed all the data, and that was the end of the matter.
“The jump start penalties have actually been changed for 2020, following some discussions, which is why you would have seen for Kimi (Raikkonen) being out of position it’s five seconds – whereas I think previously that was a 10 seconds or drive-through in 2019 – if there’s a minute jump start. Whereas someone… if they accelerate past the field down to Turn 1 before the lights go out, a very different penalty would be imposed!”