Formula 1 drivers share the circuit, but it does not always seem that way. Riders regularly encounter each other and often both parties involved believe that they are the innocent party. Based on the regulations and common sense, F1Maximaal.nl highlights the biggest incident after each race and determines which driver should have given priority.
Anyone who searches the International Sporting Code for a specific explanation of what is and is not allowed on the circuit will be in for a rude awakening. Whether a driver is punished for an incident or not depends entirely on what the stewards present make of it. However, the FIA did release a ‘FIA Formula 1 Driving Standards Guidelines’ document in March 2022. Based on this document, we look at the reasonableness of an overtaking action.
Total chaos on Interlagos
If we compare the candidates of this edition of who was wrong with the regulars, we see a number of new faces making their debut. It was Alexander Albon and Kevin Magnussen who caused total chaos at the start in Brazil. Both men had to abandon the race, but there was a third culprit, who at first glance seemed to have little to do with the incident. Ultimately, it was Nico Hülkenberg who had the first contact with Albon’s Williams.
In the Brazilian edition of this section it also becomes complicated to apply the usual FIA guidelines, but we will try anyway. The reason the guidelines are not necessarily meaningful in the start crash at Interlagos is because the guidelines generally use the apex to determine who had priority in the corner. However, the previously named Formula 1 drivers crashed before the first corner, and so the guidelines in this case can be thrown in the trash. For further analysis we use the onboard images of the three gentlemen.
Hülkenberg without traction, while competitors jump out of the starting blocks
Albon, Magnussen, and Hülkenberg start close to each other. Of the two Haas drivers, Hülkenberg starts furthest forward, with his teammate diagonally behind the German, and with competitor Albon directly behind him. The Thai shoots from his spot, while Hülkenberg has a very bad start and finds little traction in the first meters.
This offers teammate Magnussen the opportunity to place his American car on the inside next to the German. Albon, who is now half past Hülkenberg and is therefore on the same level as Magnussen, also positions his car next to Hülkenberg, but on the outside.
This essentially results in Hülkenberg ending up in a sandwich. He couldn’t steer to the left because he would hit his teammate. He could no longer steer to the right, because the Williams was now sitting there. Albon was unaware and thought he had outsmarted the Haas drivers and moved to the left. However, he had not yet passed Hülkenberg, causing his left rear tire to hit The Hulk’s right front tire, ending his race.
If we look at this incident purely objectively, we must conclude with great reservation that it was Albon who made the mistake. Albon is the man who deviates from his line in an attempt to position himself well for the next corner. Presumably he didn’t realize that there was another Haas to Hülkenberg’s left, and that Hülkenberg therefore had nowhere to go. Yes, Albon could have avoided this, but the question is whether you can blame him for not seeing Magnussen, who was on the same level as Albon himself.
The collision mainly caused Magnussen to become a victim, because after Albon was hit, he also hit the other Haas. The man in the middle came out the best, which can be called a miracle. In a way, that’s good for Hulkenberg too, as there was nothing he could have done in this incident to ensure he wouldn’t have endangered himself and other drivers.
The FIA does not intervene
After the dust settled, the FIA decided not to take action based on the incident. In other words: the race management mainly regarded the incident as a racing incident, and there is something to be said for that. There is a lot of pressure at the start of the race. Do you want to get to the first bend in one piece with the three of you? Then there is always someone who has to take the loss. If this does not happen, it often results in one of the drivers having to return to the pit lane with damage.
Albon wasn’t really at fault here, and neither was Hülkenberg. It was mainly a situation where there was insufficient space for three cars. Based on this analysis, we can only conclude that this was a racing incident. So there is no need to put asterisks after the names of those involved. However, if we had to do that, it would go to Albon.
Alonso vs. Ocon
Another notable incident took place between Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon during qualifying for the sprint race. The incident was strange, but the reaction of one driver in particular was even stranger. Ocon accused Alonso of making his turn too tight in the incident in the second corner. Alonso drove slowly and let the Frenchman pass. Ocon lost control of the steering wheel, but kept his Alpine on the asphalt.
However, he did not take his usual line because of that moment, which surprised Alonso. Ocon ended up in the wall, while he was able to limp back to the pit lane with damage. The Alpine driver gave a real tirade over the on-board radio, while Alonso still wondered what had happened. Looking at the footage, it becomes clear that this accident was caused by Ocon losing control of his car. This means that Alonso, who otherwise had an excellent weekend, did nothing wrong.