Force India team principal Bob Fernley says the FIA stewards’ decision to hand a time penalty to Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg yesterday sets a bad precedent.
The German gained an advantage over Sergio Perez on the opening lap of Sunday’s Abu Dhabi GP by running wide at the sequence of Turns 11 to 13.
Force India protested the move and was expecting the Renault driver to give up the position, but the stewards ultimately hit Hulkenberg with a five-second time penalty which allowed him to keep his advantage on the track.
The call obviously did not go down well with Force India, with COO Otmar Szafnauer believing the penalty made a mockery of the sport.
Fernley was equally incensed by the clemency of the decision.
“It was a very lenient decision to be able to do that,” Fernley told Motorsport.com.
“It should have been a case of reversing the position immediately.
“The five-second penalty meant there was no disadvantage to him. The gain was massive, if you looked at where he went off the track, he may as well have gone shopping in Dubai and come back again.
“It’s not a good precedent. it’s a weak decision.”
Force India tech boss Andy Green was also critical of Hulkenberg’s antics, believing the German was very much aware of what he was doing.
“It was a deliberate ploy by him,” he said. “
He knew exactly what he was doing. In order to overtake, he had to cut the chicane, because there was no way he would get past going down the straight.
“He knew if he stayed ahead, he would only get a five-second penalty. The regulation is completely flawed.
“The incentive now is to cut the corner, get ahead of the guy, and then go off into the distance and then serve your penalty. it’s just wrong.
“There was no penalising of the driver. He was rewarded for doing it. It’s just rubbish.”
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