On Fernando and Mark’s penalties

We are all upset by Webber’s penalty from yesterday. The interaction between him and Fernando was a sight for sore eyes. In the midst of intensifying rivalries and drivers enduring completely unwarranted booing as they receive their trophies on the podium, it was wonderful to see genuine friendship, even plain sportsmanship, come to the fore.

And for it all to end with both men given a reprimand, and subsequently for Webber a 10 place grid penalty, was very disheartening to see.

But it was necessary.

While it was nice to see Alonso give a ride to Mark after his car broke, it was dangerous. To top it off, it wasn’t even what Webber was penalized for. Only Alonso was reprimanded for offering, and eventually giving, Mark the lift.

No, Webber was punished for something completely justifiable and, frankly, necessary.

Mark entered the track, after he got out of his burning Red Bull, without the expressed permission of the Marshals. This is forbidden by FIA regulation, thus it was only correct that Mark received due punishment.

The fact that this happened to be Mark’s third reprimand of the season, thus giving him an automatic 10 place grid penalty in the next race, was a dreadfully unfortunate and terribly timed case of bad luck.

But that is all it was. Frankly, mark’s forbidden entrance to the track, and his subsequent ride with Fernando, is a much more pressing matter of safety than we all made it out to be. When you remove the rose-tinted glass, it was an outright and blatantly dangerous thing to do.

Yes, some of the sport’s most iconic images and beloved memories stem from these types of generous and sportsman-like acts of kindness, but safety must be considered.

It would take only the slightest of mistakes on Fernando’s part to offset Mark’s precarious position on the side of the car and throw him onto the track and into the path of oncoming cars. The fact that Hamilton and Kimi had to take evasive action when nearing Alonso (this was taken into account when the penalties were dolled out) speaks to the grave danger Mark could have been in should something have gone wrong.

Had Alonso pulled into a safer area of the track, and had Mark gotten the express permission from the marshals to enter the circuit, none of this would have happened. But it did.

We all love when drivers are nice to each other. It makes the sport more human. We can connect with it. It makes the drivers seem more like people than robots.

We all remember what happened in Germany, though. That rouge tire caused a lot of physical and mental trauma for that cameraman and his family. But that was a freak accident. Mark and Fernando were acting in complete consciousness.

I’m not suggesting for a second that any potential accident that could have happened would have been on purpose, but any accident that could have happened would have been a direct result of a conscious decision to do something that was, however consciously they thought about it, overtly dangerous.

Safety is the message here. Mark wasn’t punished for the ride, he was punished for getting back on the track in the first place.


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