Mercedes GP have decided not to contest the 20 second penalty rendered against Michael Schumacher for his pass of Fernando Alonso in Rascasse in the final lap of Sunday’s Monaco GP. The last lap had been run under safety car deployment, until the final portion of the lap, when the safety car peeled off the track into pit lane.
According to a new rule, cars most hold station between the safety car line and the finish line. It was in this window, however, that Schumacher made the pass. To any observer of the race, it certainly appeared that the cars were at racing speed during this portion of the lap, but Schumacher was the only driver to manage an overtaking maneuver.
Alonso and Ferrari later claimed that they were surprised by the move, as they assumed that no overtaking would be allowed. Mercedes GP, however, apparently have had access to communications radioed by the top ten teams to their drivers during those closing moments of the race, during which the teams for the most part instructed their drivers to return to full racing conditions.
Referring to their own interpretation of the new rule, the Mercedes statement said, “This opinion appears to have been shared by the majority of the teams with cars in the top ten positions who also gave their drivers instructions to race to the finish line.”
Michael Schumacher was demoted form 6th place to 12th as a result of the penalty, and Merecedes had initially announced an intention to appeal the stewards’ decision with the FIA. But FIA appeals have a long history of backfiring, and in this case, after having had a few days to reflect on the matter, the team has decided not to appeal after all.
The team’s statement said, “Whilst we cannot be happy with the outcome, we are pleased that the FIA has recognized the reasons for our interpretation. Therefore in the best interests of the sport, Mercedes GP will not be submitting an appeal.”